Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

James Lewis Cookson March 5, 1951 – May 25, 2023

Celebration of Life

James Lewis Cookson, 72, went home to Christ on May 25, surrounded by the love of his family. Trying to capture in a few words the man who was so much to so many: father, husband, friend, leader, caretaker, servant, physician, jokester, creator...seems out of sync with remembering a man who would take 20 additional minutes to hang up after a goodbye, or who could turn a "short" story into an hour-long adventure. So here we remember the life of James L. Cookson, succinctly (sort of)...

Born to Frank and Anne Cookson in Harrisburg, IL, James burst onto the scene. From the start, he seemed a born prankster, loving to pull elaborate tricks, proud of the joy his antics brought others. He grew up in Culver City, California, then Scottsdale, Arizona, and moved to Saratoga, California for his last year of high school. Known to slide into his desk at the last minute as the bell rang, Jim managed to graduate from Lynbrook High, an accomplished trumpeter, an amateur engineer and a growing Christian, who had truly devoted his life to Christ the winter before moving to Davis, California to attend university.

While studying at UC Davis, he met Jan, who would become his wife and life-time partner in service and ministry, celebrating 50 years of marriage last fall. Jim, by his junior year, had discovered that he needed to find a science vocation that connected him to his love of people, changing his major to biochemistry from chemical engineering and choosing to pursue medicine upon graduating with honors. He received a medical school scholarship from the U.S. Air Force, eventually serving six years. It was in residency rotations that he found his specialty, orthopedic surgery, the medical field for the builder-at-heart. At this time, he and Jan welcomed their first child Joann, Jim gracefully stepping aside for the delivery doc when asked if he wanted to deliver, exclaiming, "What? And let some ham-handed orthopedic surgeon deliver our baby!" Two years later, Jeremy was born and with that the start of the "4 J's."

After finishing his service with the USAF, Jim entered into private practice joining Sunrise Orthopedics in Roseville, California, focusing on general orthopedics and sports medicine. Jim dedicated his entire civilian career there, retiring after 34 years in practice.

Jim was passionate about learning and discovering. He would much prefer to discover how to make, build, cook or code something instead of buying a most definitely inferior version. Because he was a modern renaissance man, he collected hobbies like coins (which we've since found he also collected). He was a fencer, a luthier, a photographer, a programmer, a set designer, a special effects coordinator, a model builder, a costume designer, a tailor and a chef just as a start. He created everything from a "Joshua" tree costume to a child-sized airplane "cockpit" complete with talking controls. If you could dream it, he would find a way to make it.

Above all, he was a man who loved God. He knew the importance of studying the Word, leading as an elder in churches as well as teaching and serving in multiple positions for Bible Study Fellowship International. Through his service, he dedicated his life to sharing the love of God to those whom God placed in his path. From puppetry in Caraway Street on Sunday's kid's church to examining patients in Albania, Mexico, or Zambia on short-term missions projects, he put his hope in the LORD. We have confidence that he is soaring now on wings like eagles (Isaiah 40:31).

Jim leaves behind his mother, Anne; brother, Chris with wife Lauren; and sister, Nancy Zimmer with husband Don; his wife, Jan; two children, Joann Phillips with husband Mike, and grandsons, Noah, and Asher, and Jeremy with wife, Jamie, granddaughter, Jessica, and grandsons, Jonathan and Joshua.

Jim is interred at the Bakersfield National Cemetery. Please send memorial gifts in honor of Jim Cookson to Bible Study Fellowship International at http://www.bsfinternational.org/support/memorials-and-honorarium/

Wood Family Funeral Service has been entrusted with his care. For condolences, please visit http://www.woodmortuary.net.