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John S. Cook, 90, of Memphis, died August 9, 2023 at the Scotland County Hospital. 

He was born July 30, 1933, the son of Charles H. and Lottie R. (Matters) Cook of Downing. John graduated from Downing High School in the Class of 1951. While in school, John loved horses and opened a saddle shop in a store between McCune’s Grocery and Mable Riley’s café on Prime Street in Downing. 

After graduation, he worked several jobs and met the love of his life, Maxine Ketchum. They were married January 1, 1956 in Schuyler County and became the proud parents of twins, Royce & Joyce in August 1957. 

In July 1959, John and Maxine purchased the W. O. Slavin General Store on Prime Street in Downing where they sold dry goods, groceries, clothing, and shoes and most anything you needed. In April 1965 they opened a second store, Cook’s Mens Store at 130 S Market Street in Memphis, MO. On Sundays during the summer months, he would load a Chevy Suburban in western wear and head to local horse shows and rodeos. In 1972, Cook’s Mens Store expanded to a larger location at 116 S. Market Street, where the store remains open today. 

John served as Mayor of the City of Downing, Fire Chief, Planning Progress Chairman, as a member of the Downing Saddle Club and a substitute mail carrier. It was during these years, approximately 1961, that Downing merchants included John, H. Middleton, Vernon Lee Jackson, Bob Poe, Tom Potter, IG Ruth, Mable Riley, Salty & Opal Anderson, and others decided to have customer appreciation days. John devised the name “Downing Appreciation Days,” which is still being used today. 

John was the founding president of the Scotland County Rotary Club in 1979. He was very active in Rotary and made several trips to Jefferson City to the State Capital with high school students. In 2009 he received a 30- year perfect attendance award. On March 19, 2019, John, and Dr. Harlo Donelson, were recognized for 40 years of membership as Founding Members. 

John completed his Motorcycle ‘Tour de Capitals’ in 2005. He traveled two years on motorcycle to visit 49 United States state capitals. He blamed his love of riding on the fact that he started so late in life, purchasing his first bike at the age of 40. He traveled over 500,000 miles via motorcycle. 

He was preceded in death by his parents; a daughter in infancy, Sharon Rae; brother, Charles Robert; sister-in-law, Nancy Cook; father-in-law, Harold Ketchum, mother-in-law Lucille Ketchum, and sister-in-law Darlene Drake. 

He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Maxine; two children: Joyce Cook and Royce (Carla) Cook; five grandchildren: Lyndsay Hinkebein of Columbia, Jennifer (Trent) Lewis of Kirksville, Brenna (Shane) Poe of Downing, Kaela (Michael) Garnett of Memphis; Cullen “CJ” (Lexi) Burnsmore of Kirksville; 10 great-grandchildren: Haleigh & Taelor Lewis; Madisyn & Natalie Hinkebein; Triston, Trayce & Maysa Poe; Liam Burnsmore and Raegan and Waylon Garnett; nephews: Chas M. “Corky” (Sonia) Cook of Downing, Robb (Dana) Cook of Merriman, NE, and Henry (Julie) Cook of Paris, MO. 

Funeral services were August 13 at the Gerth Funeral Chapel with Pastor Larry Smith officiating. Chance Cook, Rhett Cook, Dustin Cook, Travis Mathes, Mark Story and Joe Story served as pallbearers. Charles M. Cook, Robb Cook, Henry Cook, Larry Bridewell, Mike Whitlow and Darrell Monroe were honorary pallbearers. Burial was in the Downing Cemetery. The NE Missouri Chapter of the Widow’s Son and the Downing Fire Department provided an honor escort. 

Memorials are suggested to the Downing Fire Association, Downing Cemetery, Memphis City Fire Department, Scotland County Rural Fire Department and the Scotland County Rotary Club and can be left at or mailed to the Gerth Funeral Service, 115 S. Main St., Memphis, MO 63555. 

Online condolences may be sent to the Cook family by signing the guestbook at 

Arrangements are under the direction of the Gerth Funeral Service.