Carolyn Keys Cook, 88, of Charleston, passed away on March 26, 2019, at her home in Charleston.
Born February 10, 1931, in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, Carolyn was the youngest child and only daughter of Louise and Loren Keys. Carolyn grew up in Old Greenwich and graduated from Greenwich Academy before continuing her education at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. She was married to Jonathan McDaniel Cook of Denver, Colorado, in 1952 until his death at the age of 50 in 1981.
After spending her first years of marriage in Greenwich Village while Jon was finishing his education at Columbia University, and in Carmel, California, where Jon served in the Navy, Carolyn and Jon came as a young couple to South Charleston where Jon had taken a job as a mechanical engineer with Union Carbide Corporation. Carolyn loved her adopted home and charmed all who knew her with her quick smile, easy laugh and fun-loving personality. The young couple joined the Charleston Tennis Club, where Carolyn was an avid, though somewhat temperamental, tennis player for many years. She and Jon moved to their home on Somerlayton Road in Charleston in 1962. Carolyn lived in that house until her death.
Carolyn developed a love of gardening that she carried through her entire adult life. She joined the Loudon Heights Garden Club and the Briar Hills Garden Club and could often be seen working on their parks and projects. With the help of her friend and gardener, Meg Reishman, Carolyn transformed her yard from a scant plot of grass into an oasis of plants and trees. It remains her beautiful legacy and gift to her family.
After Jon’s death of cancer in 1981, Carolyn met Sid Gillis in 1985 and the two became a couple until Sid’s death in 2014. She and Sid spent many good years traveling and enjoying life together and loved their vacation home, Grey Man II, in Pawley’s Island, South Carolina. Carolyn left tennis, took up golf, and enjoyed dancing with Sid. She and Sid’s daughter, Katherine, became great friends and shared in Sid’s care in his later life. Katherine and Carolyn remained great friends until Carolyn’s death.
Carolyn fiercely loved her sons and their families. Many were the parties at her Somerlayton home, where she would hold court in the midst of multiple generations of family and friends of family. She loved watching her sons and grandchildren play basketball. During George Washington High School’s 2018 state basketball championship run, she attended many GW games, where she could be seen in the front row loudly cheering on her twin grandsons, Mathew and Alex. She attended every GW game as they won the state tournament before hosting a raucous championship celebration at her home. She was 87 years old.
Carolyn is survived by her three sons, Jonathan K. (Ellen O’Rourke), Jeffrey C. (Ellen Sprenger) and Gregory J. Cook; eight grandchildren: Jonathan Patrick Fagan Cook, Christine Cook Haymond (Josh), Jeffrey Sprenger Cook, Carter Keys Cook, Victoria Loren Cook, Matthew Keys Cook, Alex Strauss Cook, and Culbertson Warner Cook; two great – grandchildren: Liam David Haymond and McDaniel Sprenger Haymond. She was also predeceased by her parents and by her brother, Loren Dick Keys Jr.
There will be a visitation with the family at Barlow Bonsall Funeral Home on Friday evening from 5 to 7 p.m.
Memorial service will be held at St. Matthews Episcopal Church, where Carolyn was a member for over 50 years, at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
You may send condolences to the family at www.barlowbonsall.com.
Barlow Bonsall Funeral Home has been entrusted to handle the arrangements.