A man of words, colours


Well-known Queenstowner Alan Cooke, who spread his talents across many fields, died recently at 83.

Dunedin-raised Cooke moved to the Wakatipu in 1954, after marrying Queenstown-born Joan McLeod, whom he’d met at teachers college.

Alan taught at Queenstown’s high school for about 30 years, teaching the likes of French, Latin, English, maths and art, and coaching gymnastics, hockey and swimming.

He was a well-regarded artist, painting in watercolour, sepia, charcoal and oil, and also dabbled in graphic design.

One of his paintings was given by the mayor of Dunedin as a gift to the visiting Lord Mayor of London.

Joan says: “An insurance man would come and try to sell him insurance.

“Instead of selling insurance, he’d walk away with two or three paintings.”

For several years, Alan was also the Queenstown correspondent for the Otago Daily Times.

Alan and Joan were founding members of the Queenstown Historical Society, cutting the cake at its 50th anniversary function this year.

The couple, who raised five children, originally lived in an Arrowtown crib nowadays used by jeweller Sir Michael Hill’s son Mark as a sculpture studio.

Three years later, they shifted to downtown Queenstown’s Shotover Street, then round the corner to Stanley St before settling in Fernhill in the late ’80s.

Alan was active in the Fernhill Sunshine Bay Community Association, and played a role in organising the Town Link Track between Fernhill and Thompson St.

He also assisted Joan in her role as secretary of the former Queenstown Scottish Society for 42 years.

“He was a jack of all trades but always a home husband and father,” Joan says.

“He was a jovial person - he gave his time and people would come and ask him all sorts of questions.”