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COOKE, Leonard (Len) David

COOKE, Leonard (Len) David

1942 - 2018

It is with great sadness we announce that Len Cooke rode off into his final sunset in Oliver, British Columbia, on Friday, January 12th 2018 at the age of 75. Len fought a hard battle for 10 months against Glioblastoma brain cancer. In the end, he passed peacefully at home on his ranch with his wife and son by his side. Len will be lovingly remembered by his best friend and his wife of 49 years, Donna, and his son, Loren (David), and his brother, Wayne (Pat), brother-in-law, Joe Trotz (Joanne), and sister-in-law, Dixie Edge (Marty), and many nieces, and nephews and close friends.

Our cowboy, Len, was born on April 8th, 1942 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. To say horses and animals were Len’s passion would be a great understatement. Len grew up in and around Calgary, Alberta and began riding horses at an early age. He was training and showing horses by the time he was twelve. After graduating from Springbank high school in Calgary he accepted a job with professional horse trainer, Bill Collins, in Edmonton, launching his professional equestrian career. For several years following his work with Mr. Collins he worked with numerous trainers throughout Alberta and the US learning from each, and eventually molding his own training techniques into what many of his students and clients deemed “The Cooke Experience”. It was Len’s passion in life to help riders experience and understand how a horse thinks and feels which helped to create a positive interaction and stronger bond between horse and rider. Throughout his 40 years as a professional horse trainer Len trained and showed 100’s of horses and participated in the Canadian and United States quarter horse show circuits, reining events, and top cutting horse competitions. Len also hosted and presented 100’s of horse clinics, and seminars at his ranch in Oliver, British Columbia and all throughout Canada and the United States and was coach and mentor to 1,000’s of students, and their horses in the process.

Len was one of the founders of the Canadian Equestrian Federation’s national western coaching program and a national examiner and course conductor. He was recognized for his efforts with this program with an Award of Merit from the Canadian Equestrian Federation and the 3M Coach Recognition Award from the Coaching Association of Canada and Horse Council of British Columbia. Len was also an honorary lifetime member of the Interior Cutting Horse Association.

He called Oliver, British Columbia and the Okanagan Valley home since 1973 when he and his brother Wayne, his wife Pat and their 3 children started the KOA Campground and Country Pines Mobile Home Park at Gallagher Lake. In 1980, they sold their successful business and Len, his wife Donna and their son Loren moved to Willowbrook outside of Oliver and established Dry Creek Ranch where he resided until his passing. Len loved the outdoors and loved camping, fly fishing, and hunting and despite his love for the Okanagan Valley he also had a special place in his heart for the Crowsnest Pass in Alberta where he met his wife. Anyone who ever met Len knew he was a true cowboy, and loved and represented the cowboy way of life. He was a true country gentleman and would stop and help anyone that needed a hand without hesitation. He simply adored and worshiped his wife Donna. He loved to take her dancing and quite often they were told their love for each other glowed when those long legs of his were guiding her across the floor, snuggled up to a good old country waltz.

Len’s kind, gentle, and loving nature touched so many lives and horses throughout the years, it is without doubt his legacy will live on in our hearts for years to come.

“You ask me what a cowboy knows,
Not much of some things, I suppose,
He’s just a man of life and limb,
But we sure could use more, like him.”


The family would like to thank the unconditional and loving support of our community of friends, family and Len’s palliative support team as well as Dr. Lorraine Kane and the palliative nursing team at South Okanagan General Hospital (SOGH). A celebration of Len’s life will be held in the spring in Oliver, British Columbia on a date to be announced later this month. In lieu of flowers the family would recommend contributions be made to SOGH Acute Care – SOGH Palliative Care Unit or a charity of your choice.

Mail To: SOGH Palliative Care Unit
911 McKinney Road
Oliver, BC
V0H 1T3

Arrangements entrusted to Nunes-Pottinger Funeral Service & Crematorium, Oliver & Osoyoos.


Condolence Messages
  • Mar 05, 2018
    Dear Donna and family,
    My husband Bruce and I are very sorry to hear of Len's passing. Len influenced my horse career greatly, and I still hear his voice saying "ride, ride, ride!". So many times I realize that what I am teaching is what Len taught me with his unique way of explaining technique and philosophy. What a horseman-he sure made life better for hundreds of horses and their people. Thank you Len. Donna, you and Len always made us welcome at clinics and we will never forget your kindness.
    Fonda Munro and Bruce Boughey
  • Feb 11, 2018
    Dear Donna and Loren. So very saddened to hear of Len's passing. He was an important person in my life and made me a better person as well. I followed his clinics faithfully for some years and eventually with his wonderful help became a Western Level I Coach. I was so happy. I will never forget him saying his favorite quip once we mastered something "Piece of cake right?"We lost a good one when he departed. Rest in peace dear Len! And yes it was an honor to be his student. Joyce Davidson, Kaslo. B.C.
  • Jan 24, 2018
    Dear Donna,
    We are so sorry to hear of Lena's passing at far too young of age. He was a true country gentleman. Our thoughts are with you and Loren.
    Please accept our deepest sympathy,
    Gord and Sue Wolfe
  • Jan 20, 2018
    It was quite a few years ago I had the pleasure of going to Len Cooke Clinic at the Dry Creek Ranch, with Bert and Ted Brecknell. Len and Donna were great hosts, and Len was an excellent instructor. I've never forgotten what he said and did train the cattle too. Very sad to hear of his passing, and think the poem above is suiting to him.
    Blaine Stockwell
  • Jan 20, 2018
    Dear Donna and Loren, heartbroken to hear of Len's passing. He was a very special man. I learned a lot from Len and so enjoyed riding in clinics at the ranch and elsewhere. He will be greatly missed. Doug still talks about how Len helped him 'ride into the herd' the first time he did that. Thinking of you at this difficult time.
    Lynette and Doug Schmidt
  • Jan 18, 2018
    Dear Donna and family, my family and I share many many wonderful memories of Len's kind gentle manner with all animals ...humans, horses to farm cats on the fence!!! His legacy will be that this amazing patience and passion with people and horses will be carried on from all that had the honour of being his student! Suzie D (nee Brecknell)
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