“Did you take your good looking pills today?” That was how Joe greeted people and it always made them smile. He said it doesn’t take much to be kind to people and everyone liked him.
Joe was born in Cleveland, Ohio to Joseph and Emma Szakacs on July 12, 1927. After his first child was born, he changed his last name to Cook because he didn’t want his children to be made fun by others like he was when growing up. Szakacs is the Hungarian name for Cook. On October 14, 2019, he passed away peacefully in his sleep at home in Squirrel Valley.
He is preceded in death by his wife Jean, son Tommy, parents Joseph and Emma Szakacs, brother-in-law Richard Ross, niece Robbie Sweeney, nephew Rick Ross, and nephew-in-law Joe Menger. He is survived by his sister, Barbara Ross, nieces Carol and (Tom) Simons, Jeanne Menger and Barbie Ross, daughters Debbie and (Van) Wingerden, Peggy and (Amado) Leon, Sue Martinez, grandchildren Josh Campbell, Jessi and (Casey) Ondrovics, Matt and (Jennifer) Campbell, Jason and (Alicia) Leon, Karis and Lauren Martinez, and great-grandchildren Abigail and Aubree Campbell. He loved his family very much.
Joe was an extremely creative and talented person. He was a wonderful artist, played a couple of musical instruments, and most of all, was the best amateur golfer around. He had several holes in one, shot par many times, earned plenty of trophies and in his seventies and eighties, was happy to shoot at his age. He also coached his friends and high school golf. He was always telling jokes, too, because he loved to make people feel good. He worked as a gardener/landscaper like his father, and loved nature, all kinds of animals and especially his pets. Joe served in WWII as a Merchant Marine; although, he wanted to join the U.S. Navy, he was only 15 years old and too young. He often talked about his travels during the war and described watching a ship being torpedoed and sank right next to the ship he was on. Joe moved his family from Ohio to sunny California in 1959 mainly for weather. They lived in the San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valley until his retirement in 1989. He and his wife traveled all over the country with his sister, Barbara, and brother-in-law, Richard Ross a year before settling in the Kern River Valley in 1990.
After his son Tommy passed away as a result of a tragic accident in 1970, both Joe and Jean became born again Christians, then his daughters followed suit. Joe and Jean opened their home to strangers and anyone who needed help. Joe would buy good used cars and give them to people in need. Those are just two examples of his faith in action and he did many other things for people as well. Joe will be terribly missed by all, but he is now at peace with his Lord, and Savior and his wife and son. A special thanks to the Optimal Hospice workers, and to all his caregivers. There will be a celebration of life with the immediate family; however, in remembrance of Joe, you may send a contribution to your favorite charity or to a Children’s Hospital of your choice.