Gwen Cooke, friend of the United Steelworkers, dies at 94

TORONTO – On July 15, 2014, the United Steelworkers (USW) lost a friend, Gwen Cooke (née Richardson), at age 94. Gwen's husband of 55 years was Stu Cooke (1924-2005), a strong Steelworker and former USW Ontario Director from 1977 to 1981.

Gwen's sister, Olive Chester (1926-2012), was also an important USW activist who among other things worked on the famous USW ‘Eaton drive', and was also a great friend to the NDP.

Gwen was born August 2, 1919, and remained actively involved with the CCF and the NDP throughout her life.

She came from a family with strong labour convictions, as Eileen Tallman Sufrin wrote in her book, The Eaton Drive. "With others in the East York Workers' Association, during the Depression, the Richardsons had often helped to prevent evictions, carrying furniture back into a house when it was put on the street."

Tallman Sufrin recalls Gwen as a teenager, producing annual musical reviews of left-wing skits and songs with Olive and Olive's friend George Luscombe as part of the Co-operative Commonwealth Youth Movement (CCYM) in the late 1930s.

The celebration of Gwen's life will be held on Saturday, July 19, 2014, from 2-5 p.m. at the Mount Pleasant Cemetery Visitation Centre in Toronto (375 Mount Pleasant Rd.)

In the Toronto Star obituary, Gwen's family asks that donations be directed to either the Alzheimer Society or The New Democratic Party.

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Contacts: Bob Gallagher, Communications USW,, 416-544-5966

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