AKWESASNE – Mrs. Viola E. Rourke, 88, of 294 St. Regis Road, peacefully passed away Tuesday morning, July 15, 2014 at Massena Memorial Hospital, with her loving family by her side. She had been in failing health for the past year.
Viola was born in Akwesasne on October 26, 1925 the daughter of the late John David and Margaret Jock Cook. She first attended schools on the Reservation before attending Bombay High School. On June 12, 1948, she married Barney J. Rourke at the St. Regis Mission Church with Rev. Joseph Bourget, celebrating. On their 65th anniversary last year, they renewed their vows on the Rourke Road with Rev. Jerome Pastores, officiating.
Viola first worked at the Warner Brothers Corset Factory before working at Bombay Slipper Factory. She later went to work at Levi’s in Cornwall and was a lacer for Roundpoint Lacrosse Factory at one time before starting to work for the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe. While working for the tribe, she worked the Health Services Outreach Program and later was a Foster Grandmother with the Head Start Program. Viola also served her community as a member of the Akwesasne Housing Board Authority for 15 years and was a committee member of the St. Regis Mohawk Federal Credit Union. Viola was a life member of the American Legion Auxiliary, where she had many offices, a member of the Marine Corps League Auxiliary, the St. Regis Mohawk Senior Citizens. She was a devoted Catholic and member of the St. Regis Mission Church and it Altar and Rosary Society.
Viola enjoyed playing bingo, sewing, going dancing, doing search-a-word and crossword puzzles, and vegetable and flower gardening. When she was younger, she was an avid bowler and played outfield for various softball teams. She enjoyed watching baseball, especially the NY Yankees, traveling, and following her children and grandchildren’s sporting events. Viola enjoyed cooking and will be fondly remembered for her Indian Hash. Perhaps of all her enjoyments, her greatest were the precious memories and time she shared with her family.
Viola is survived by her devoted and loving husband of 66 years, Barney; her children, Cynthia Sawatis, Marsha White, Sandra Rourke, Eileen Rourke and her companion John McComber, Larry and Tassie Rourke, Hubert and Veronica Rourke, and Steven “Judgie” and Shelly Rourke, all of Akwesasne; her grandchildren, David and Chistopher Sawatis, Ryan and Laurie White, Cami Campeau, Natasha Thompson Barnes, Nathan and Narissa Thompson, Margaret Rourke-Bay, Arik, Marc, Michael, Brett, Stacey, and Louis Rourke, Bucky Cook, Joanna Balcom, Sharlann, Blake, and Cara Mae Diabo; and 25 great grandchildren, and two great great grandchildren.
She is also survived by her aunt, Monica Cook of Grayson, Georgia; her sisters-in-law, Carole Sharlow of North Lawrence and Isabel Rourke of Akwesasne; her godchildren, Joseph Thompson, Phyllis Jacobs, Darlene Dilcox, Daniel Rourke, and Edward Cook, Jr.; and many nieces, nephews, cousins; and her beloved dog, Coco.
Viola was predeceased by a daughter, Evelyn M. Rourke on July 3, 2004; two grandchildren, Leslie Ann Rourke and Memphis Rain Carle; her sister, Nancy Cook; and her brothers, Francis, Hubert, Bernard, Edward “Eddie” Cook and Pete, Josephine, Patricia and Ralph Cook in infancy.
Friends may call at the home her nephew, Marshall and Janine Rourke, 89 Rourke Road, Akwesasne, Wednesday beginning at 5:00 p.m. until 10:00 a.m. Friday. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Friday 11:00 a.m. at St. Regis Mission Church with Rev. Anthony Osuji, celebrating. Burial will follow in Rourke Family Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made in her memory to St. Regis Mission Church or the St. Regis Mohawk Senior Citizens.
Arrangements are with the Donaldson Funeral Home, Massena, where memories and condolences may be shared online at www.donaldsonfh.com.