Column: Hamilton centenarian never shied from an adventure

Martha Cook lived her life as an adventurer, never shying away from a chance.

While her birthday celebration Tuesday was, according to the new centenarian, “just another day,” it really wasn’t.

It was a day that honored the woman many call Aunt Martha for a life filled with her taking a chance. That first chance was when she joined the U.S. Coast Guard, and members of the Sector Ohio Valley, including Capt. Heather Mattern, celebrated her.

Before Mattern read a letter written by U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Linda L. Fagan, the first female commandant of the military branch, the Sector Ohio Valley commander paid tribute to the former Coast Guardsman.

Mattern shared that she is in charge of 500 people, half of the Cincinnati office are females, and many of the accomplishments by women in the U.S. Coast Guard “could not have been done without our predecessors,” adding that Cook and others that served before them “paved the way to make what we do possible every day.”

The moment got to her. The moment got to many of us in the Haith Room at Berkeley Square.

“I didn’t think I could cry,” Cook said after hearing letters from Admiral Fagan and Phyllis Wilson, a retired chief warrant officer and president of the Women in Military Service For America Memorial Foundation.

Cook grew up in Hamilton on a farm not far from the Columbia Bridge. She was the youngest of Richard and Louise Goos’ five children (two brothers and two sisters).

Two years after graduating from Ross High School, she joined the Coast Guard. And the reason, she said, was “for the adventure,” smiling as if she was still 20 years old.

But it was a calculated decision, as she said, “I always admired the Coast Guard because they’re not just for wartime. They’re for every time.”

Basic training for Cook was in Palm Beach, Fla., and her duty station was 72 miles south in Miami, where she stayed for her two years of service. She moved back to Hamilton, but not for long. She worked at Citizens Bank as a teller when a friend, who had previously lived in California, wanted to move back.

Always looking for an adventure, she said, “I’ll go with you.” The move was supported by her parents when she met their stipulations of having a job and a place to stay.

Her friend got her a bank teller job at a bank in California, which is where she met Lew Lindley. He was a bank customer and asked her out on a date.

The adventurer, of course, said, “Okay,” and they were married for more than three decades. Years after his death, she met and married her second husband, Harold Cook. He died a few years after their marriage in the 1990s.

Cook made her way back to Hamilton, via a move to Arizona with her second husband, and has been living at Berkeley Square for about five years.

And though she has a few needs, she said she’s still pretty independent at 100 years old.

Likely ready for her next adventure because, as she said, “The opportunities are there.”

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