Donor Stories

Ian M. Cooke '51

Ian M. Cooke '51 has enjoyed sabbaticals from UH-Manoa, where he was professor of zoology and research professor in the Békésy Laboratory of Neurobiology (now emeritus), to work in several European labs.
While science has been the main focus in his life, "music is a constant theme," says Ian. Trained as a pianist through high school, and exposed to chamber music by his stepfather while growing up, Ian made many friends at college through music. It became clear that string players had far more fun and opportunity to play, so he began cello lessons as a college senior.

Ian and his wife, Janet, both hold music in high regard. Janet is also a pianist and their five children – Lachlan '79, Angus '80, Roderick '85, Anna '95 and Maile ('Iolani '96) – participated in music.

A UH professorship for Ian brought the family back to Hawai'i in the early '70s. Ian and Janet, consistent donors to the Punahou Annual Fund, began supporting music scholarships aimed at middle-school students. "We wanted to see if we could get students to participate in chamber music at an early age, so I specifically directed some funding toward scholarships for that age group." They then decided to endow their support to the Cooke Quartet, ensuring its continuation into the future.

Ian and Janet hope to encourage students to gain sufficient mastery of a string instrument and skills in ensemble playing to experience the excitement that comes from participating in a chamber music group. "These are skills that can endure and enhance their lives, regardless of the career they choose," says Ian.

Music has brought the Cookes a lifetime of joy, and they hope that today's students will experience the same fulfillment. Still actively engaged in academia and with hosting Ian's own string quartet at home every Thursday, the couple takes pleasure in their music-making and in the support of young artists. "It's hard to express the satisfaction that comes when the music comes together," says Ian. "I'm still getting great fun out of it."