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AUG. 17, 1922 -- APRIL 15, 2002

Audrey M. P. Cooke, known as "the flower lady" at the family-owned Cooke's Nursery, died Friday in the Center for Hospice & Palliative Care, Cheektowaga, after a brief illness. She was 82.

Born Audrey Pearson in Buffalo, she graduated from Kenmore High School and worked for the Columbus McKinnon Co. before and during World War II.

After the war, she and her husband, Melvin K., bought 12 acres on Millersport Highway in what was then wilderness in Getzville and built a house.

For two decades, they grew flowers and vegetable plants that they sold at Cooke's Nursery.

She also worked as a bookkeeper for her husband's drywall application and finishing company and later at Forbes Homes.

Mrs. Cooke helped found several organizations in Amherst during the 1950s including the Swormsville Home Bureau and Dodge Elementary School Parent-Teacher Organization.

She also was a member of the Western New York Fiddle Association, Niagara Frontier Fiddle Club -- which named her outstanding member of the year in 2000 -- and St. Catharines Fiddle Club. She enjoyed entertaining audiences with the "Kohler one-holer," a toilet-seat banjo, that her husband made.

She also had done volunteer work at Buffalo City Mission and its Cornerstone Manor. And she was a member of Bethel Baptist Church since 1966. In the past few years, she had enjoyed activities of the church's seniors group, the Golden Dodgers.

Her husband of 55 years died in 1997.

Survivors include three sons, Brian and Douglas, both of Amherst; and Robert of Crawford, Ga.; three daughters, Laura Hinton of San Diego, Calif.; Elizabeth Aland of Athens, Ga., and Janice Feigenbaum of Amherst; a brother, Robert J. Pearson of Town of Tonawanda; 13 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Services will be held at 9:30 a.m. Monday in Bethel Baptist Church, 995 Dodge Road, Getzville. Burial will be in Acacia Park Cemetery, Pendleton.

-- Barbara O'Brien

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