49 years is enough

Monday was Dr. Richard Cooke’s last day in Silverdale Eyecare Center office. He is co-founder of the first optometry clinic in the area established in the summer of 1956. - Photo by Valentina Petrova
Monday was Dr. Richard Cooke’s last day in Silverdale Eyecare Center office. He is co-founder of the first optometry clinic in the area established in the summer of 1956.
— image credit: Photo by Valentina Petrova

It was the second day of Dr. Richard Cooke’s official retirement and he left his Poulsbo home at 6:30 a.m. He squeezed in a couple of early morning meetings before pulling a two-hour shift ringing the bell at Kitsap Mall in front of Macy’s for the Rotary Club holiday fund-raiser.

“The next big thing I’ve got to learn is the word ‘no,’” he joked Wednesday afternoon when he finally made it back home a few minutes past 2 p.m.

After almost 50 years with the Silverdale Eyecare Center, Cooke worked his last day as an optometrist Monday but will remain active in the local Rotary Club as he has for years.

“He’s a pillar in the community,” said optician Lin Walker, who has worked with Cooke for 27 years. “So we wanted to make sure everybody was aware and could (come) have a good time and bring us some stories.”

Walker and Dr. Michael McCown, who is taking over the Silverdale practice, are planning an open house 3 to 6 p.m. on Jan. 2 at the Byron Street office to celebrate Cooke’s contributions for the local community.

Cooke was president of Silverdale Rotary Club in 1967 and 1968 and president of the state’s optometrical association the following two years. He was instrumental in bringing Bible Study Fellowship International to Silverdale. Cooke taught the men’s Bible study class for about five years in the late 1980s and early 1990s when a minimum of 120 people attended each meeting.

In 1974, Cooke belonged to the founding board of directors for the Suburban State Bank of Washington, Silverdale’s second bank. It was established by him and 10 other local leaders such as Silverdale Realty’s Ron Ross, Jennings Corporation’s Robert Jennings, Lee Stirrett of Stirrett-Johnsen, Inc., and Keith Bogard, owner of Bogard’s Drugs.

It was in Bogard’s store on Silverdale Way that Cooke and a classmates of his from optometry school at Pacific University in Oregon, opened their first practice in June 1956. A native of North Dakota, Cooke had plans to return to his home state to practice optometry, but his partner, Dr. Carl Alleger, was a Northwesterner and steered the decision.

“I had a place all picked out in North Dakota,” Cooke said. “But then Dr. Alleger and I decided we wanted to try a partnership. And the only place he would live was somewhere where he could fish.”

When Cooke’s wife at the time fell in love with the Silverdale area, the deal was sealed.

Cooke and Alleger’s practice was the first optometry clinic

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