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  Velda and Allen Cook

Driftwood Artists

Velda and Allen Cook were two artists who were the parents of Elisabeth Cook Sullivan (That's me). 
Allen, my beloved father, died in December of 2005,
and my dear Mom, Velda, followed him in April of 2009, shortly before the AOMP spring 2009 show. 
We showed both Velda's and Allen's works at that show. 
There is no better way to honor who they were than through their art.
Allow me to tell you a little about them. 

Allen and Velda were highschool sweethearts, who,
by the time my father graduated from the Naval Academy in 1940
had already experienced many separations. 
Theirs is a beautiful love story, one I never tire of telling or of thinking about.
Allen was a career Naval Officer for 30 years and
Velda and Allen experienced many separations during Allen's that time.
He retired in 1970, and they spent every day together for the next 35 years, until the final separation in 2005. 
I like to think they are reunited now.

When Allen graduated from Annapolis, he was assigned as a brand new Ensign to  the battleship Nevada, BB36.
She was a WWI battlewagon and was known as the queen of the US Navy fleet.
the US Navy fleet was berthed in Pearl Harbor in 1941.
My mom left USC at the beginning of her senior year to follow her soon-to-be husband to Hawaii
She worked in an office building overlooking Pearl Harbor, and where the Nevada was birthed next to the USS Arizona. 

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked the US Navy fleet and the world was never again the same.
My Parents were married in Honolulu HI on December 16, 1941, just 9 days after the attack.
In addition to Pearl harbor, Nevada was in many other famous WWII battles
to include Iwo Gima and other battles in the Pacific as well as the D-day invasion at Normandy. 
Nevada fired the very first shot in that famous battle. 

After WWII, Allen and Velda went on to be a naval officer and a naval officer's wife. 
There were many other ships, and other wars, too. 
  Allen was a WWII hero, and my hero, too.  He was also in Korea and Viet Nam.
Velda went on to be a star in such charitible organizations as the Girl Scouts, the American Red Cross,
and most notably, in Navy Relief, a Navy system designed to help out young Navy families.  

Allen was an oil painter since childhood,
and I am fortunate enough to have 4 of his original early paintings, done in the 1930's. 
After a 30 year career in the Navy, Allen retired and spent all his time with his beloved Velda. 
They traveled every summer, spending at least a month every year on the Oregon coast. 
Both became avid driftwood collectors, and eventually, both became artists in the driftwood medium.
Allen made faces and heads out of driftwood knots.  I have many of them in my art collection. 
Velda was the Michaelangelo of driftwood, finding the sculpture within each piece she found. 
I have many of these treasures as well.

We all wish you could have known Velda and Allen. 
They were a part of the greatest generation, wonderful people, talented artists.  They are sorely missed. 
But check out the picture above! Are they adorable or what!


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