Former Congressman John Cooksey: Funeral Arrangement Information

A public memorial service for former Louisiana Congressman John Cooksey was held next week at the historic United Methodist Church in Columbia under the direction of Riser Funeral Home.

The memorial service for Cooksey, 80, who died Saturday, is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. June 17 at the church at the foot of the Ouachita River Bridge at 501 Church St.

A public visitation is scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m. on June 16 at the Riser Funeral Home in Columbia.

Cooksey, a Republican, served as a congressman from the 5th District with Monroe and Alexandria as population centers from 1997 to 2003.

He limited himself to three terms in the House before running for the US Senate, a race won by Democratic US Senator Mary Landrieu.

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Current 5th District Congresswoman Julia Letlow, R-Start, honored her predecessor on Tuesday with a speech in the House.

“(Cooksey) has dedicated his life to serving his country and improving the lives of others,” she told her colleagues.

Letlow’s late husband, Luke Letlow, who was elected to Congress in 2020 but died of COVID before he could take office, worked for Cooksey as a driver while Letlow attended Louisiana Tech University.

“I will forever be grateful to John Cooksey for giving my late husband Luke his political start, instilling a love for Congressional work in a young boy with a passion for the Start campaign,” Congresswoman Letlow said. “To me he was more than a predecessor, he was a mentor, a confidant and a trusted friend.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Ann, his family and his countless friends in northeast Louisiana.”

Governor John Bel Edwards said he would order half-staff flags flown on the day of Cooksey’s funeral.

“Former Congressman John Cooksey leaves behind a long legacy of service to our state and our nation that will not soon be forgotten,” Edwards said. “He has helped and inspired countless young people and worked hard to improve the lives of others. He has served his country and his community in every way possible, from the Air Force to Congress to his practice as an ophthalmologist Donna and I offer our prayers and condolences to his family and all those he touched.

Cooksey, whose medical practice was based in Monroe, was born in Alexandria and graduated from LaSalle High School in Olla, where his father operated a sawmill, according to his biography.

The United States Capitol building is seen before sunrise on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 21, 2022.

He received his ophthalmology degree from LSU Health Science Center in New Orleans and his MBA from the University of Texas.

Cooksey also served in the US Air Force, where he was stationed in Texas and Thailand.

Cooksey also volunteered in the mission field in East Africa, where he provided health care for six years and helped found an eye clinic in Kenya.

Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Louisiana Network. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1

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