James Roscoe Gookin

Friday, January 16, 2015
James Roscoe Gookin

James Roscoe Gookin crossed the bridge and laid down for eternal rest on January 14, 2015, with his family at his side. Dad was born on August 11, 1924 in Dyersburg, Tenn. to Virgle Eugene Gookin and Ethel Pauline (Anglin) Gookin. Dad was raised on a farm with 14 siblings, where he worked and picked cotton with his family. He was drafted into the Army during World War II, and served for seven and one-half months until he was medically discharged following a training accident. After leaving the Army, dad went to work on the river boats out of West Memphis clearing the channel until the river flooded. He then joined up with a friend and ventured to the West coast looking for work. Their quest for work took them through many states before finally ending up in Vallejo, Calif. where dad found work at Greyhound Bus Line. While working for Greyhound, he transferred to San Francisco where he attended the Samuel Gumpher Apprentice School, apprenticed at Greyhound working his way up to become a journeyman mechanic. Homesick for family, he departed San Francisco in 1948 and returned home to Arkansas.

Once home, he fell in love with Anna Lou Self, they were married March 24, 1949. After our oldest brother, James Stanley Gookin was born; dad realized he needed to go back to California so that he could provide a good life for his family. In November of 1950 he took a bus to California and found work at the Benicia Arsenal outside of Vallejo, mom and Stanley soon followed. Two more sons, Mike and Willie joined the family during their time in Vallejo. In 1953 the arsenal underwent a reduction in force and dad was offered a job at the Marine Base in Barstow, Calif.

The Marine Base was rapidly expanding as it was identified as only one of two locations within the United States for long term storage of Marine Corps equipment and material which meant there was a job boom and a housing shortage. Dad was able to find short term civilian housing on the Marine Base for our family, until he teamed up with other civilians who had transferred there and they worked together to build each of their homes in Yermo. Shortly thereafter in 1955 our sister LaDonna arrived.

Always putting his family before himself, in 1978, Dad applied for and accepted a two year assignment as a power plant operator at Naval Base, Adak, Alaska, so that he could increase his salary and subsequent retirement pay to ensure he and mom would be self-sufficient in their golden years. While there he and mom made lifelong friends and enjoyed the beauty of island living.

Upon retirement from the Marine Base in 1982, and once again putting family first, dad and mom returned to Piggott, to care for mom's mother, Willie Self. Dad, working with his brothers Wallice and Bill, built what would be their last home overlooking beautiful fields and trees, where he could work in his garden and enjoy the fruits of his labor and have family gatherings.

Dad was a God fearing man who's favorite quote "without family you have nothing" embodied how he lived his life. Dad was a wonderful husband, father, granddad and great granddad. He always put family before himself. As dad and mom settled into retirement, they spent a lot of their time focusing on their family and especially the grandchildren. They seldom missed a school event or game, and were always there to help with school projects.

Dad and mom were happily married for over 59 years, until she lost her battle with breast cancer on Jan. 26, 2009 with dad holding her hand, and family at her side.

During the past three and a half years dad has been in assisted living at Magnolia Manor in Piggott. Our sister LaDonna has been at his side during the entire time, making sure he was able to get to his doctor's appointments, his basic needs were met, and kept him company each evening during dinner. As kids we always had dinner as a family, and LaDonna made sure the tradition continued.

Dad is survived by his three children, Mike Gookin and his wife Becky of Union City, Tenn., Willie Gookin and his wife Debbie of Stafford, Va. and LaDonna (Gookin) Alstadt, and her husband Bill of Piggott. He also leaves behind nine grandchildren, Cristina Shaw, and her husband Ben of Jonesboro, Anthony Pickering of Jonesboro, Jon Pickering, and his wife Tiera of Batesville, Mathew Gookin, and his wife Julie of Midlothian, Va., Tara Sweeney, and her husband Dan of Stafford, Va., James Gookin, and his wife Demanda of Hornbeak Tenn., Amanda Layane, and her husband Chad of Monteagle, Tenn., Justin Russell, and his fiancée Ashlee of Union City, Tenn., Lindsey Pullen, and her husband Terry of Jackson, Tenn. He leaves behind 13 great-grandchildren, Sara, Becca, Gabriel, Phillip, Shyanne, Emma, Will, Miles, Ella, Sophie, Sarah, Corbin and Elsie. Dad has two surviving brothers, Bill Gookin of Piggott, and Robert Wayne Gookin of Ripon, Calif.

In addition to mom, and dad's parents, he was preceded in death by a son, our brother James Stanley Gookin, grandson William Cody "Bubba" Alstadt, brothers, John Gookin, Douglas Gookin, Clyde Gookin, Howard Gookin, Edward Gookin, Wallice Gookin, and sisters, Eugenia Lee, Orean Self, Hazel Long, Virginia Lowerines, Audrey Gookin, and Martha Geneva Gookin.

We would like to thank the staff at Magnolia Manor in Piggott, and Flo & Phil Jones Hospice House in Jonesboro for providing excellent and compassionate care for our dad as his health diminished on his final journey home.

From his sons and on behalf of dad's brothers who served in the Navy, we offer a traditional Navy blessing "Fair Winds and Following Seas."

Visitation was held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015, with services following at 1 p.m. at Hoggard and Sons Funeral Home in Piggott. Rondol Richardson officiated. Burial followed at the Piggott Cemetery.

Pallbearers were Mathew Gookin, Anthony Pickering, Jonathan Pickering, James Gookin, Gary Gookin and Jeff Gookin.