THE GOLDEN ROLL

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3100 Harrow Drive, Billings, Montana 59102.

OSCAR OLIVER COOKE, age 94, of Billings, Montana, passed away
Saturday, July 29, 1995 at Glendeen Nursing Home of natural
causes.

Oscar was born to Riley and Fannie Palmer Cooke on March 8,
1901, in Gueda Springs, Kansas.

As a young lad, Oscar followed his dad’s threshing machine,
accompanying his parents who operated the rig. His mother was cook
for the threshing crews and traveled with her family throughout the
area. By the age of nine, Oscar was firing his dad’s steam
engine during the grain threshing. When he was 16 he was farming
his own small piece of land, had learned to fly, and had his own
threshing crew. Oscar studied math, commerce law, and banking at
the Emporia Business College in Emporia, Kansas.

During the 1920s and ’30s, Oscar barnstormed around Kansas
with his plane. His love for aeronautics continued and he built
many air strips in the Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and Montana
areas and he attributed a great measure of his success to his
flying background.

Oscar began in the machinery business as a salesman for Allis
Chalmers in Emporia, Kansas. He continued with Allis Chalmers and
was promoted to branch manager in Omaha, Nebraska. Oscar sold a
trainload of Allis Chalmers combines in one day. He made 33
landings in four states to complete these sales, and, all the
combines were shipped on one special train. Oscar was instrumental
in the development of the Round Baler. He helped Mr. Lubben obtain
copy rights to the baler and formed the mass production agreement
between Mr. Lubben and Allis Chalmers. Oscar has the #1 tound baler
in his collection today. While in Omaha, Nebraska, he continued in
his aeronautics by putting on an air show and doing stunt flying
himself.

Although he was too old to be drafted into World War II, he
became a volunteer member of the Civil Air Patrol, where he held
the rank of Captain. This patrol was made up of volunteer pilots
who flew their own planes along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico
checking for enemy submarines.

About 1944, Oscar moved to Chillicothe, Missouri, and started
his own business there named Cooke Sales and Service Company. He
also set up branches in St. Joseph and Sedalia, Missouri. During
these years he was also mayor of Chillicothe, Missouri. While he
was mayor he worked to get a new airport built. Oscar even dabbled
in the banking business by buying three banks in Kansas and
Missouri. He built them up and sold them back to the local people.
Oscar also had a Cadil-lac/Oldsmobile franchise and a Piper
Aircraft dealership.

Oscar married his wife, Marcella Reilly, in 1952. By 1958 they
had purchased the CX Ranch at Decker, Montana, and moved to
‘Big Sky Country.’ He began collecting old engines about
this time. He saw a steam engine at Big Horn, Wyoming, that he
decided he wanted, so he bought and restored it. He picked up
antiques from all over the United States and Canada. Oscar received
the Blue Ribbon Award for his display of antique farm implements at
the 1968 Yellowstone County Fair. Oscar was honored by the Northern
International Stock Show and Rodeo Association as Agri Businessman
of the Year in 1977.

Oscar put his collection together in what is known as
Oscar’s Dreamland, Yesteryear Museum in Billings, Montana. It
had been Oscar’s dream to preserve a slice of America’s
agricultural past for many future generations to enjoy and learn
from. Oscar was recently selected as the first inductee into the
‘National Gas and Steam Hall of Fame,’ an award he was
chosen to receive because of his many years of hard work and
dedication to preserving our early American heritage. Four others
were inducted along with Oscar this year: Donald D. Knowles, editor
of Engineers and Engines Magazine; C. H. Wendel, editor of the
Reflections column of the Gas Engine Magazine; Tom Graves, past
president of the Early Day Gas Engine and Tractor Association; and
Bill May, now living in SanDiego, California.

Oscar was an avid story teller and could lighten up the most
boring dinner party or the dullest business meeting with any one of
his hundreds of stories. Oscar always loved people and was an
active joiner. He belonged to Quiet Birdman and 0X5 (two flying
clubs). He was a Mason, Scottish Rite, Shriner, Rotarian, Elk, and
an active member of the J. I. Case Heritage Foundation, the Early
Day Gas Engine and Tractor Association, and many other groups.

Oscar was preceded in death by one daughter, Irene Cooper. He is
survived by his wife, Marcella Cooke; five children: Marie Windle
of Independence, Missouri, Oscar M. Cooke of Chillicothe, Missouri,
Bette Cooke of Monett, Missouri, Riley Cooke of Laurel, Montana,
and Marcie Limpp of Roberts, Montana; one brother, Earnest Cooke of
Boulder City, Nevada; two sisters, Elma Findley of Soquel,
California, and Aileen Haislup of Houston, Texas; one grandson and
6 granddaughters; three great-grandsons, and seven great
granddaughters.

Oscar was a dreamer whose dreams will never die! Oscar’s
Dreamland will open again May 1, 1996, for what Oscar’s family
hopes to be one of the best seasons yet.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment