Lee and Pug Cook - Geritol Gypsies

The dictionary’s description of wanderlust is a strong desire to travel or wander. You will soon see the connection.

 Pug, Lee and Bart sit on their porch in Manson with hundred of thousands of miles behind them!

Pug, Lee and Bart sit on their porch in Manson with hundred of thousands of miles behind them!

Lee Cook was born in Richland Center, WI in 1938, the youngest of eight children. His dad was a dairy farmer with thirty cows on 160 acres of land. Lee grew up milking cows by hand, an art that has gone by the wayside because of automatic milking machines. Lee raised his first cow when he was only ten years old, a Holsten he entered in the Richland Center Fair and won first place, “Best Overall Cow”. Lee remembers milking his cow and selling the milk so he could purchase a trombone, not something he wanted but something his mother thought he should have, tough love! Throughout high school, Lee played that trombone and graduated from South Kitsap High in 1956.

Lee’s family moved to Port Orchard when he was 12 and his dad went to work for the Puget Sound Shipyard. Lee was happy they didn’t have anymore cows!!! But in 1954 Lee’s dad purchased ten acres in Olla, WA with hopes of making it into a dairy farm! They ended up with ten cows and sold only the cream to Dairygold in Bremerton. One not so good memory was when Lee helped his dad dig a 23-foot deep well using shovels and buckets and lots of sweat! They installed a submersible pump at the bottom and soon had all the water they needed. Lee helped his mom and dad until 1960 when they sold the farm and moved to Arizona. It was too hot for his parents in Arizona so they moved to Moses Lake, WA for their retirement years.

 Much better than digging a well!

Much better than digging a well!

After graduation Lee found work as a woodworker/tool maker for The Boeing Company at their Renton plant. That led to a four-year apprenticeship at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in 1957 working as a tool and die maker. Lee remained with Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for 37 years and retired in 1995.

Marvelyn (Pug) Dodson was born in the Fine Arts Building at NW Nazarene College in Nampa, ID in 1941.Of course my first question was, “How did you get the name Pug?” She’s not sure but thinks it came from a “Campbell’s Kid Doll” called Puggy that her aunt liked. Campbell Kids were first used as part of an advertisement for the Campbell Soup Company in 1904.

 Puggy the Campbell's Soup Doll

Puggy the Campbell's Soup Doll

Pug’s dad worked at a hardware store in Nampa then in 1945 he brought the family to Bremerton so he could work at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard as a tool and die maker (do you see the connection coming?). Her family were members of the Bremerton Nazarene Church and she met Lee when she was only nine years old at a youth group.

Pug remembers going to a skating party, through the church, in her junior year of high school. Lee was there and he ended up taking her home in his 1955 Chevy, 2-door hardtop that Pug loved, soon they were going steady. Pug said, “Lee was cute, had a cool car and ALL the girls liked him! He has a kind heart and is lots of fun.” Lee remembers Pug as a very friendly person, loving, cute, petite and a Christian. He also knew she was the right person, someone he didn’t want to lose. Later Lee used that 1955 Chevy to propose to Pug and he gave her a ring while she was in the passenger’s seat! They were married May 28, 1960, 58 years ago!!!

Pug-Lee-Wedding.jpg

In 1957 Lee started playing fast pitch baseball for his church. He was one heck of a pitcher and if you don’t believe me he has several news articles to prove it!! He then pitched for the Interlude Tavern in 1960 in Bremerton’s City League. His team won the league title. They won several tournaments and went to nationals. Lee played ball until he was 50 years old!

Lee-baseball-02.jpg

Lee and Pugs wanderlust falls into two time periods, before retirement and after retirement. Their travels started under the “Work and Witness” program through the Nazarene Church. The mission of the Church of the Nazarene is to make Christlike disciples in the nations, Lee and Pug’s first trip was to Portugal in October 1983 where they helped remodel a basement of a warehouse converting it into a church. They were required to raise all funding for the mission trips. Most of the mission trip were two weeks in length with Lee helping with construction and maintenance and Pug helping with financial accounts.

 Just one of hundreds of projects Lee has taken on over the years.

Just one of hundreds of projects Lee has taken on over the years.

After Lee retired the trips went from two weeks to two and three-month trips! Lee located missionaries that needed help, through the Nazarene Church and then volunteered. His talents in construction and maintenance were in high demand.

In October 1993 they were off to Romania for a house remodel then returned in 1995 for three months where they converted a laboratory into a Christian school and chapel. 1996 was a busy year with trips to Mozambique, a southern African nation, for four weeks and then to Romania again.

 Pug and Lee with one of the workers in Mozambique

Pug and Lee with one of the workers in Mozambique

In December 1998 Lee returned to Kenya and helped install security in a district office. They hit the road again in February 1999 with projects in Jordan and Israel. This was a two-week trip that turned into six weeks. They both returned to Israel for three months in June 1999 where Pug was busy auditing books and Lee helped remodel an apartment in the old city. They returned to Israel in September 2000 for a three-month trip but fighting broke out and they cut the trip short by a month.

From September 2002 to November 2002 they worked on projects in North Ireland where Lee helped paint an old cathedral and Pug set up books for a new church office!

Lee-Pug-01.jpg

I asked Pug what got them started traveling and she said, “It was while on vacation at Wapato Point in 1982, we attended a Sunday service at North Shore Bible Church. I remember Pastor Craig talking about “what is your passion. After church we talked about the challenge and decided we wanted to reach out for the Lord cross culturally.”

In 1997 Lee and Pug sold their home of 40 years, in Bremerton, WA and purchased a 40-foot motorhome and hit the road for 15 years! They joined SOWER (Servants On Wheels Ever Ready) and their first project was building Sower’s Hall at North Shore Bible Church working with Rich Moore and Del Rinehart. Pug joined Lee on these trips when possible, she was still working as an accountant for a group of medical doctors in Bremerton and after her retirement in 1998 she joined Lee fulltime. Together they have worked on 26 SOWER projects across the United States!

Lee-Pug-RV.jpg

Lee and Pug started making vacation trips to Mexico in 1995 staying at Cabo most of the time. In 2008 they volunteered at the Vineyard Church in Mazatlán helping with several projects for seven years. They leased a trailer site in Mazatlán in 2010, it’s currently their winter home. On a trip south to Mazatlán in 2014 their RV was broadsided by a semi-truck and trailer 500 miles north of Mazatlán. The motorhome was totally destroyed but God was on their side, no injuries and they continued their trip south in their tow vehicle. God was with them again when they found a “park model” in Bullhead City, AZ and a friend drove from Mexico to Arizona towing it to their property in Mazatlán.

Cook-Mexico-home.jpg

Lee and Pug now fly to Mazatlán November 1, staying until April 1. They have everything they need including a car. Lee continues to help at the Amistad Church in Mazatlán. They both enjoy getting out of the cold Chelan Valley in the winter, they love the people and the ministry in the area.

They purchase their home in Manson in 2013. Lee said, “It’s a 1920 Sears Craftsman kit home. It needed work and over the past five years I’ve remodeled just about everything!” Sears Catalog Homes (sold under the Sears Modern Homes name) were catalog and kit houses sold primarily through mail order by Sears, Roebuck and Company. Sears reported that more than 70,000 of these homes were sold in North America between 1908 and 1940. More than 370 different home designs in a wide range of architectural styles and sizes were offered over the program's 33-year history.

After all their travel I asked why they chose Manson for their home. They love the small community, no stop lights and North Shore Bible Church. Actually, North Shore Bible Church is number one! They have traveled in all 50 states and currently own a 27-foot Class “C” motorhome and have plans to drive to Alaska next year.

 The Cook's boys from left Rob, Scot, Rick and Brad

The Cook's boys from left Rob, Scot, Rick and Brad

The Cooks have four boys, nine grandchildren and three great grandchildren, all living in Western Washington. Their traveling days are far from over, Pug laments that she would rather live in a motorhome than a stick build home. That tells it all!

By Norm Manly