May 27, 2020, East Orange, NJ: On Friday, May 29, 2020, the City of East Orange will honor former Mayor Thomas Cooke, Jr. by renaming the corner of Hawthorne and Central Avenues, a place he called home for over 40 years. The virtual ceremony will be broadcast via the City of East Orange’s Facebook Page@EOCityHall at 11am.
Mayor Cooke was beloved throughout the city and was recently honored with a 2019 Lifetime Citizens Award by the City of East Orange.
“His contributions and legacy in our community will not be forgotten, especially his tenacious fight to keep East Orange clean and healthy,” said Mayor Ted R. Green.
As a two-term mayor who held office between 1978-1986, Mayor Cooke’s focus on restoring the city’s tax base garnered national attention from The New York Times and every television station across the region highlighting his campaign against slumlords. In addition to his fight against slumlords, he worked tirelessly to stabilize taxes. Collaborating with housing advocates and tenant leaders, he recruited businesses willing to invest in East Orange as a commuter town. His administration also presided over the construction of housing for seniors and the public auction of foreclosed properties.
Mayor Cooke’s professional career began as an educator in Newark Public Schools and included elected terms and leadership positions on the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders and East Orange City Council. He was also a member of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities, and National Council of Black Mayors. He was the second African-American elected to lead East Orange as mayor.
Mayor Cooke passed away on May 18, 2020, at the age of 90, due to COVID-19 complications after battling a lengthy illness. His funeral services are scheduled for Saturday, May 30 at 12pm.