Please join us in sharing your memories of Liz Cooke, Secretary of the Somerville Association 1988-2023.
Please note, you can find all contributions to the condolence book directly beneath the entry form on this page. These contributions are being updated on a rolling basis in advance of compiling a definitive version. If your submission has not been included, please allow 1 working day before contacting us regarding its whereabouts. Thank you.
Your Condolence Messages
Liz Cooke Condolence Book
Liz was a wonderful ambassador for Somerville and a tremendous friend to me and the three Somervillian members of my family. She will greatly missed. We send our deepest sympathy to her family and friends.
Ben and Louisa Price (Chambers)
Liz was a lovely person and a true Somervillian. We always enjoyed getting her emails and updates about life at the College that holds such happy memories for us. She will be very missed indeed.
Liz was wonderfully warm, witty, perceptive and able to make so many, often unusual connections. How can we thank her properly for all she has done for Somerville (though what I know is probably only the tip of the iceberg)? As long as all the people who have met through Liz are alive, she will live on in our thoughts. I am grateful for all Liz has done, grateful for knowing her, and my condolences go out all her friends and family.
Anna and Roman Walczak (Senior Research Fellow)
Liz was a wonderful friend. She was making you feeling welcomed and belonging to Somerville regardless of your formal connection to the College. Whether Somerville or Great Tew, her hospitality was legendary. Memories of Liz and great time we had with Liz will stay with us forever.
Reading these condolence messages has brought home to me such a sense ofLiz’s warmth and vitality. Although we never met, she and I exchanged many emails to track down some ‘missing’ old Somervillians living here in the US. Even over email, her personality and kindness shone so brightly. Among many others, I am grateful to her for reconnecting me with Somerville after nearly 50 years and am only sorry not to be able to thank her in person at the reunion next week. What a truly wonderful lady.
Nicola Ralston (Thomas)
Dear, dear Liz, how to put into words what you did for the College and for so many individual Somervillians, old and young? Your remarkable understanding and vision of what the College community could, and should be has come to pass: it was truly a lifetime’s work. All we can say is a heartfelt “thank you”.
A woman of quiet distinction whose work on behalf of our very special college has been no less than transformational. An inspiration since my undergraduate years rather more time ago than I care to remember – sorely missed but always in our hearts.
I was so sorry to hear that Liz has passed away. I last spoke to her at the Memorial Service in June, where she was busy talking to as many people as possible, with her usual warmth and kindness. She was always so interested in everyone.
So many of us have become more involved with College because of Liz’s enthusiasm and all her work in alumni relations. We will all miss her hugely. I will also miss her contributions to our book group and her encyclopaedic knowledge of all things Somervillian.
Ruth Rostron (Treloar)
Lovely Liz. How I admired you with your curly red hair, sweeping around college in your scholar’s gown!
‘We are the lucky ones’ you said not long ago, and how very lucky I feel to have had my life enriched by the gift of your friendship, encouragement and support for nearly sixty years.
Thank you, dear Liz.
My sincere condolences go to Ollie, her family and all who will miss her deeply.
Liz was the kindest warmest and most thoughtful of people. She went out of her way always to welcome me and my family to Somerville. I shall miss her very much and will always remember her especially when I return to her (and my) beloved Somerville. Rest in peace, lovely Liz.
I am devastated to learn that Liz has died: she seemed the sort of person who would be able to overcome all obstacles. She was a remarkable Somervillian whose energy, intellect and warmth successfully encouraged many of us to reconnect with our College. Liz was a conduit of good will: she remembered who we were and what we were doing, but at the same time she was completely unsentimental. She was crisp, direct and yet completely compassionate. The love and admiration we all felt for Liz was refracted onto our College. I am so glad that I knew her, and I think she knew, although she would not have admitted it, how much we all loved her.
One of the main reasons I kept coming back to Somerville, helping with Media Days and the college magazine was Liz Cooke. Her kindness, energy and support were unsurpassed. She was a great ambassador for our college and a valued friend.
Elizabeth Philipps (Black)
I was very sad to hear of Liz’s death. I have read the many tributes to her and what is so marked is the appreciation of her kindness, her incredible commitment to Somerville and how she could involve us as alumnae in the continuing life of the College. I had contact with Liz when I was part of the London Lawyers Group. She was always so friendly but not ingratiating or ever insincere. I always enjoyed meeting her. I send my condolences to her son Ollie and we will all miss her.
Sarah Wyles (Ryle)
Liz’s talent for making so many people feel they have a unique contribution to bring, her wisdom, judgement and sense of humour, have created a community of Somervillians undoubtedly greater than the sum of its parts. At a time when even the older, male-r colleges were only beginning to wake up to what an alumni community could be, Liz put Somerville ahead in this respect. She was never too busy, and always interested: no wonder so many have commented that she made them feel as if they were part of an extended, college family.
Liz has been a constant (in both senses), respected and treasured presence to me for more than three decades: I will miss her incredibly and always remember her with love and affection.
Liz was a hugely kind lady who had some mighty wit, too. Her complete dedication to Somerville was something I saw from student to alumna – she was always so responsive and willing to help. As part of the Somerville fabric, I know she’ll be hugely missed. May she rest in peace.
We remember Liz with great affection and respect. She was brilliant at keeping contact, with kindness and persistence, with the less gregarious alumni among us, always making them feel welcome and appreciated at College events.
Fiona KA Gatty
I had lunch with Liz very recently in College. She was thin, and frail, but as ever she was bright as a button, encouraging and supportive, full of news and ideas, and good book recommendations. We made a plan to meet again next term, so it was a shock to read that she had passed away so suddenly, even though it was clear to both of us she was ill.
I was an undergraduate at Somerville in the eighties, so only got to know her as an alumna; then more recently when I came back to do my graduate studies between 2006-14. It was then I got to know her, and I was also lucky enough to visit her in Great Tew. She was fun, bright and really liked people – and they really liked her. During my time as Chapel Director she was supportive and encouraging, and I will really miss her and our occasional lunches. I know she was the force behind Somerville’s Alumni Relations, and that it had a huge impact on the college, and the broader university, but she was modest and self-effacing about it, which is one of the reasons why she was so admired and liked by everyone.
When we last met, she recommended a book to me. It is sitting on my bedside table as a material reminder of her presence, her charm and her intelligence. I will miss her enormously, and send my deep condolences to Ollie, and to the Somerville community to whom she was such an integral part.
I was so sorry to hear of the passing of dear Liz Cooke.
She was so wonderful and was a great asset to Somerville. She took time for everyone she knew. I remember when I first started at Somerville, she sat me down and had a lovely chat with me. She was a lovely, lovely lady.
She will be sadly missed by everyone who knew her.
I am so sorry to hear this sad news. Liz and I were tutorial partners when we came to Somerville in 1964. We worked through British history together and I had to be on my toes to keep up with her.
Her love for and commitment to Somerville were clear in her work, but as lightly worn as her scholarship. Having ‘our’ Liz keeping us in touch made the contact so much more personal and warm – and it will be greatly missed.
So very sorry to hear that Liz has passed away. She was a lovely, gentle and warm person who enriched the lives of all those who met her. She will be greatly missed by all and my sincere condolences go to her family. God bless and rest in peace now, Liz.
Last time I attended a Somerville event, I was deeply saddened to hear how seriously ill Liz then was. I was therefore not surprised to hear the news when she passed on, but I became aware of an empty space where she used to be. Alumni events will never be the same without her calm efficiency, her welcoming smile and her gift for recognition and inclusion. Over the years she provided a continuity which will prove hard to replace.
I would like to offer my condolences to her family, close friends and colleagues. I was never all that close to Liz, but I can imagine that she will be very sorely missed by those that were.
A year ago I enjoyed an email conversation with Liz about swifts. I’d told her about my book – Swifts and Us – and she was thrilled as she loved these birds. She wrote of when she moved to her home in north Oxfordshire 43 years ago when ‘it was one of life’s great pleasures to sit in the garden in the evening watching and listening to the dozens of swifts swirling overhead’. Now, she wrote, there were none. I suggested she put up a swift box or two and she sounded really keen to try this. It was lovely to talk with her and share our love of these extraordinary birds.
Liz and I were young barristers together at a time when the profession was male-dominated. She had a sharp tongue which she used to good effect in recounting court anecdotes.
I always found her stimulating and fun to be with, but I owed her a particular debt of gratitude when she took me in after I had been made temporarily homeless by a flood. I spent a lovely month with her in her flat in West Kensington and came to know the area quite well. I had been living in trendy Islington, so this was a culture change for me.
I lost touch with her more recently although we did have tea together (usually at Somerville) whenever I was in Oxford. Her death is sad news indeed.
Hazel Lucas (Craddock)
Thank you Liz for being so warm and friendly, making me feel welcome and that I belonged, even after a long absence. You have done a superb job and will be sorely missed.
Liz was such a good friend, warmly welcoming all of us at Alumni events. Her smiling encouragement was very helpful to me over many years, and I will remember those conversations, especially during Covid over Zoom.
My sincere condolences go to her family and assure them that Liz will be remembered by so many Somervillians with fondness.
Liz was a truly extraordinary person. She had an encyclopaedic memory of generations of Somervillians and always welcomed us with warmth and a genuine interest in our lives. I marvelled at her ability to bring people together and her tireless devotion to College. I was fortunate to get to know Liz better during my time as a member of the Somerville London Group committee and the group’s book club and it was always a pleasure to spend time in her company. She gave so much to so many and will be sorely missed. My condolences go to Ollie and her family and to her colleagues at Somerville.
I have many affectionate memories of Liz, from working with her on the Somerville London Group in the 1990s to enjoying her warm and welcoming presence at countless alumni events in Somerville and London. It is surely very much thanks to Liz, and her tireless work over the years that the college continues to play a part in the lives of so many of us long after we graduated. Thank you Liz.
My best wishes to Liz’s family and to the college. Liz was a lovely person to engage with as an alumni of the college and as a year rep. Gentle, thoughtful, attentive. A loss indeed.
Liz has been a wonderful supportive member of Somerville for many years. She encouraged me to participate as an alumni particularly with the media group. Always interested in what everyone was doing. She was a fixture at any Somerville event but most importantly the most generous, warm person. We will miss you, Liz.
I feel so privileged to have known Liz and counted her as a dear friend for many years. I was deeply saddened to hear of her passing and will miss her terribly.
It seems inconceivable to imagine Somerville without Liz – she both embodied and enriched the college and our alumni community in a profound way. Somerville will never be the same without her but her immense legacy will live on, never forgotten, and ever testimony to the wonderful and amazing person that was Liz.
Rest in peace, Liz. My heartfelt condolences to Ollie and family.
I was shocked and saddened to learn that Liz had died. I knew her mainly from her role with the alumni and always found her to be enthusiastic, very helpful and enormously encouraging. One of her great gifts was her genuine interest in people – she listened well. Her warmth, positive outlook and indefatigable work for and on behalf of alumni will be missed by all who knew her.
I was deeply saddened to read that Liz’s life has come to an end, and offer my deep condolences to Ollie, Liz’s wider family, close friends and everyone at Somerville, but especially the Alumni team.
I will miss Liz enormously and treasure my memories of Liz’s generosity, kindness and shrewd observations of people, places and events. In January 2022 Liz cooked me a delicious lunch at Great Tew: smoked salmon, coq au vin and chocolate mousse. I also remember being somewhat surprised by Liz’s comments about the passenger footbridge at Charlbury Station, which she considered an unnecessary expense: in decades gone by, passengers disembarking from the train had simply walked across the track when there were no trains approaching!
This vignette captures what I will most miss about Liz: her politics were different from mine, but we could nevertheless have an enjoyable and interesting discussion on many issues.
I came to know Liz well through the Somerville London Group Book Club, where she was brilliant company – whether contributing interesting facts about well-known Somervillians by their number of lovers or who was the only person to refuse an honorary degree, or indeed being clear when standards were not being maintained. With one non-fiction book Liz, was very clear that the annotation on the maps and the quality of the index was not up to scratch: subjects I confess to having never given much thought to.
I admired Liz’s exceptional people skills, her high standards and her resilience – there must have been times when running the Somerville Association was not straightforward – but above all I thought Liz was one of the most astute people I had ever met. Her approach to the Somerville Association, focusing on excellent speakers, friendship and fun, was far sighted, laying an excellent foundation for fundraising, but retaining an important distinction between the two. From conversations with friends at other colleges, this does not feel universal.
It was a privilege to know Liz and her legacy is remarkable one.
Liz was an amazing ambassador for Somerville among alumni, providing a warm and enthusiastic link with the College. I attended many alumni events in London and she was invariably present, seemed to know everyone, have time to talk to everyone and make everyone feel valued. Her dedication, energy and warmth are irreplaceable. She will be much missed in the College and across the alumni.
Seeing Liz Cooke was always one of the great joys of coming back to Somerville over the years. Her warmth and kindness were so genuine and, as many have already written, she always took a deep interest in everyone. She was an exceptional person and the College will not be the same without her. She will be much missed. I send my sympathies to her family.
Liz’s death is very sad news. She had a special knack of turning Somerville contacts into friendships, so that a lot of Somervillians will feel her death personally. Her organisational skills were admirable, though unobtrusive – being involved with her in setting up the occasional event was always an enjoyable experience.
It was with great shock that I read of the sad passing of Liz Cooke. She was the first person at Somerville who I had contact with after accepting my place and she answered the, probably very gauche, questions of someone who was the first in her family to go to university with tact and grace. She was at every alumni event that I attended over the years and was always so welcoming. I now wish that I had attended more. The last time I “saw” her was on a Zoom Call that college had set up as part of one of the virtual Alumni weekends during lockdown, so that we were still able to connect with fellow Somervillians. I remember commenting that I did not feel that I had achieved as much as some others in my year group and she reassured me that everyone’s contribution matters. Hers more than most as she touched so many lives. Next time circumstances permit that I can attend a future alumni event, there will be a void where she should be and they will never be quite the same again.
Further to Alice’s message, we have lost a dear friend who will be greatly missed by the College and her countless admirers, as witnessed by the exceptional number of messages of condolence. We had lunch with Liz a few weeks before her death and she was, as ever, on sparkling form despite her illness.
Susan Mary Anthony (Farrow)
I am deeply sorry and shocked to hear that Liz is dead. I Have never known anyone more truly and self-effacingly welcoming and kind. She made Somerville still feel like home 60 years after leaving.What shall we all do without her?
Many thanks to Liz for getting me more engaged with the Somerville community and back in touch with fellow students. I will miss her.
Niloufer Markler Reifler
Liz was always welcoming, always kind and always there.
She will be much missed.
Liz was an extraordinary colleague: a committed Somervillian to the core, gently puzzled by those of us who had not been students at Somerville, yet bringing us all into the fold. She was both very private and welcoming to everyone; pragmatic and practical as well as kind and warm; direct, with a wry sense of humour yet also a model of diplomacy. She rarely talked about herself, preferring just to get on with things, though the delight she took in her family and her beautiful garden shone through all conversations with her, and her skill in bringing people together and giving them a sense of belonging was legendary across the university. We will miss her so much – but the sense of community she forged at so many levels will be her lasting legacy. Remembering her with gratitude, admiration, and love.
Liz was a Somerville contemporary of my mother, Kamini Wickremesinghe (MCR 1964) and went out of her way to make me feel welcome and at home when I came up to Somerville in 1992. Her door was always open. I used to visit her in her small office when I, an only child often ill at ease with my peers, felt the need of some adult company. I found her warmth and kindness reassuring and she always made me feel she had time – a rare gift. Her long distance friendship continued intermittently by email for 30 years. She was invariably interested, kind and warm. I, like so many others, shall miss her.
Such devastating news. Liz has been such a constant and supportive friend to me for so long, it is hard to imagine Somerville without her welcoming presence. She had an amazing talent for remembering and taking an interest in all alumnae / alumni , of all ages and status, and making us all feel that we belonged to the wonderful community of Somervillians. (Never ‘Ex-‘ ! ) She was, indeed, a tower of strength at the heart of the Somerville community and will be greatly missed by us all. Condolences to her family and to all at Somerville.
As for so many others, Liz Cooke was my “address” at Somerville during all of the four decades since my studies there. I live in a less-than-tranquil place, and she stayed in touch, even sending a personal letter of concern when things were more unsettled than usual. On my few return visits to Oxford, we communicated before and during. (Little did Liz know she had also taken on the role of accommodation consultant!)
It was very moving to see her less than two months ago, when my fellow Holtbyites and I had the opportunity to express our gratitude and appreciation in person. Her memory will be cherished by Somervillians near and far, myself among them.
My life in Oxford was enriched beyond measure by knowing Liz Cooke and it is truly painful to imagine what it will be like without her.
I was introduced to Liz by the wonderful Dame Anne Warburton who thought that, as an American who was a part-time resident of Oxford and past editor of my own college magazine, I might be helpful to Liz by writing articles for the Somerville alumnae publication. Over the next several years I had the pleasure and privilege of interviewing dozens of remarkable Somervillians who were happy to talk with me as soon as they heard that Liz had suggested it. She knew everyone and everyone knew and loved her.
I think I was indeed helpful to Liz (and to Somerville), but my help cannot approach the value of what I gained from her. Her warmth and charm and generosity of spirit were without limit and she went out of her way at every opportunity to assure my welcome in the Somerville community. It is a connection I shall always treasure and her friendship is a gift I can never replace. She was a magnificent human being and I am shattered by her loss.
Dominique Vaughan Williams
Liz Cooke provided the thread which kept me tied to the Alumni events over the last 40 years.
She was at the events, ready with an open smile which made me feel recognised and welcome – something increasingly precious over the years.
I will remember her with great fondness and send my condolences to friends and family.
Liz was hugely important in drawing Somervillians back to the college, and maintaining close relations. Always interested, always friendly and kind, she was a focal point for so many reunions. On a personal level, I will greatly miss her interest and support. Thank you, Liz, for everything.
I met Liz through our joint connection with Somerville and she quickly became a friend. Her warm interest in Somerville and its students was unfailing. I shall miss her enormously.
I was deeply saddened to read of Liz Cooke’s death. She was warm, enthusiastic and welcoming, not to mention quietly efficient – qualities much in evidence when I helped to organise the 1969 “golden reunion”. She had the remarkable gift of making those of us who left the College nearly 50 years ago feel as though we still mattered to it.
Mark Ealey (Lodge Manager)
I’m very saddened by the passing of Liz. She was always such a delightful, pleasant and caring person, an absolute asset to Somerville who was always so totally professional. Sleep well, Liz.
I was so saddened to hear that Liz Cooke had passed away. What an inspirational lady. Unfailingly warm, friendly, good humoured and genuinely loved hearing news and welcoming us all back to Somerville. It will never be the same without her but how lucky we have all been to have her presence at Somerville. She will be sadly missed at our upcoming Gaudy in a few weeks but I am glad I had the chance to see her last year for Dame Fiona Caldicott’s Memorial. RIP, Liz, and thank you for everything you did to enrich the college experience for so many of us.
Thank you, Liz, for your unstinting support, warmth and interest; so very much appreciated.
Vicky Maltby (Foundation Fellow)
It is virtually impossible to imagine Somerville without Liz, and I echo the many tributes already on this page. Her death is a great shock, yet it seems somehow appropriate that she never retired, and was continuing to contribute to College life to the end. Her legacy is immense, and will influence alumni relations and College development far into the future. My condolences to Ollie and her wider family.
We will miss Liz so much.
For years she has been a lifeline to Somerville for us, helping us to keep in touch with old friends, and informing us about College news and events with never-failing commitment and generosity – and, especially latterly, courage. We owe her a great debt of gratitude, and to Ollie and all her family. Thank you for sharing her with us. Deepest sympathy to you.
The death of Liz Cooke is a great sadness both for her family, all her friends at Somerville and me personally. She was a lovely person and very much my continuing connection with the College, both in person and via email and letters. Whenever we met over the years she was so warm and interested. Any college occasion was enhanced by her presence; quiet and supportive. She will be enormously missed.
Sybella Stanley (Co-Chair, Somerville Development Board)
Liz Cooke is inexorably wound through my memories of Somerville. She nurtured so many Somervillians with such grace and modesty. She had an unfailing memory for the small details and such interest in everyone. Somerville would not have the leading development programme it has today without Liz.
Julie Dickson (Law Fellow)
Liz, your tireless and deep dedication to Somerville, its students, tutors, and alumni, over such a long period, has been of a kind almost never seen these days in a professional context. It has been an inspiration to me, and the law school at Somerville is and will continue to be enormously benefitted by the decades of hard work that you put in with regard to alumni relations and fund raising. On a personal level I will also miss you a lot – I have in my memories such a lot of funny stories that you told, indeed some of them are so funny in such a way that I cannot repeat them here!!, but I mean this as compliment and testament to your well-rounded understanding of the high points but also the foibles of the human experience. Thank you for your incredible generosity of time, dedication, and service.
Very sad to hear of Liz’s death. It was always a delight to see her at alumnae events, warm and friendly as ever and the epitome of elegance and charm. She brought a piano with her when she came up in 1964 though I never heard her play it!
Liz was an outstanding ambassador for Somerville. Thank you for always making me feel welcome and valued. College won’t be the same without her. I will miss her.
Sending condolences to the Cooke family. I’ll be always grateful to Liz; she was my connection to Somerville when I left in 1998. Having redirected my career path several times since I graduated, I always went back to the “well” and reached out to Liz, both for advice and to reconnect me with helpful alumni who she had herself helped in the fields I was looking to move into, whether that be entertainment, publishing, business or law.
I’m now enjoying being a TV lawyer at a drama studio living in Los Angeles with my family, and we owe this adventure in no small part to Liz Cooke.
Best wishes, Anuj
It is very hard to imagine coming to a Somerville Alumni or other college event without being welcomed by Liz Cooke. She was such a warm presence and although we were not quite contemporaries I felt as if we had known each other for ever. She was extremely kind and sympathetic when my brother, Derek, died, and we were in contact over his obituary in the College Report. I know that he too liked her very much and held her in high regard. I always thought that she ran the Association with real enthusiasm, flair and efficiency, and her dedication to the college shone through.
I had the privilege and pleasure to work with Liz first during the 1990s as part of the Literary Lunch Committee then as Chair of the Medics Committee in the early 2000s when we organised a number of high profile events together. Nothing was ever too much trouble for Liz. She dealt with everything with quiet efficiency, patience and constant good humour. We shared many laughs. I was always struck at alumni events by how interested she was in everyone, knew all their names and went out of her way to make them feel really welcome in Somerville. An absolute treasure who will be very sorely missed.
Elisa Hétroy Wheeler
I am sad to hear of Liz’s passing and I join in messages highlighting her interest and capacity to bring people together. She was a wonderful woman.
Liz was a wonderful ambassador for Somerville, a familiar face who was always welcoming and inclusive. It was a pleasure to keep her updated on events as she was always so interested and gave thoughtful advice when asked. Liz will be a great loss to the College and alumni.
Kind, fun, clever and always so friendly and took great joy in life and Somerville. She worked so hard for the college and always with a smile – she we will be missed and remembered.
I was so sorry to hear of the passing of dear Liz Cooke.
She was a wonderful warm human being who was a great asset to Somerville in so many ways and worked so hard for the College. She took such an interest in us all.
She will be sorely missed.
With deep sympathy to her Somerville family and her own, thank you Liz.
Like so many others, I was sad to hear of Liz’s passing, and send my deep condolences to her family. Liz has indeed been a constant face of Somerville for me since I graduated in 1999, and she was obviously an institution at College well before then. Deservedly so, as I’m sure I was one of many alumnae who could have just been a name on a list, but she genuinely didn’t see it that way and really did care about people for who they were and was genuinely interested in how we were all doing. That’s what continues the bond with College and makes it special for me, and the feeling that I’m still part of a special community. I love hearing how things are at College and about other Somervillians, and know that Liz and her team worked very hard to get that news from us and to us, amongst many other things. I will miss seeing her name on those letters, newsletters, magazines and emails. Rest in Peace, Liz.
I was shocked and sad to hear that Liz Cooke had died. Her retirement would have been a sorrow but, for me, her death was entirely unexpected.
She was an integral part of my every visit to Somerville and always so welcoming, affirming and supportive. She was also a warm and attentive correspondent by email when required.
Her commitment to Somerville and Somervillians was extraordinary and we shall miss her hugely.
Liz was so kind and helpful to me in the year after my degree finished, when I was at a bit of a loss as to how to progress towards the kind of career I wanted. She listened, and found me someone who could advise – I was surprised and grateful that anyone would take such trouble. I’ve never forgotten it. She must have done this for many others all her life – that is a legacy to be truly proud of.
I agree that Liz was the ‘beating heart’ of Somerville but to me she was more. She was the very personification of Somerville. Fiercely intelligent yet wore her knowledge and skills lightly. Warm and welcoming. Always interested in people, valued what they could offer and always wanting to include them in the Somerville community. Humble to such an extent that if you did not know her background, you would not realise what her many achievements were. Most of all a wonderful, kind and loyal friend.
I first met Liz when I joined the Somerville London Group and I got to know her well when I became Chairman. She was hugely influential in welcoming me back into the Somerville community which, at that stage, I felt I no longer belonged to and was not interested in me. Liz would drive to my house in West London and I would drive us on to the many committee meetings and events we then had. We bonded over our love of Saabs and our love of opera and music. She also bonded with my husband over gardening and we all spent many happy hours in Liz’ wonderful garden. Thus we became close friends and spent many happy and fun times together.
I will miss Liz very much. She leaves a great hole in my life and the College will not seem the same without her. My condolences to all the Development Office team who must be feeling the same shock and sadness.
Dearest Liz, always so professional, generous, friendly and kind, retaining the folk memory of the college and binding a community across generations – how we will miss her.
If anyone alights on this comment, do please read Alice Prochaska’s message here.
Liz was always welcoming and kind and did so much to keep the Somerville community together. She will be missed.
Virginia (Ginny) Harrison
I remember Liz very well from her encouraging and gentle efforts with the Somerville Lawyers Committee in the 1980s 1990s to Somerville London events in more recent times. She was always warm and kind and I will miss her.
Although age and disability have prevented me from visiting Somerville now for several years and I therefore had not seen Liz for some time, we remained in contact by email. I shall miss her enormously, her love of Somerville and passion for keeping alumnae in touch with the college were unsurpassed.
To her family I send my heartfelt sympathy: To Liz, rest in peace and rise in glory.
So very sorry to hear of Liz’s passing. She represented Somerville so well and made us all feel part of the College however long it was since our student days. My condolences to her family. She was a lovely lady and will be missed by so many.
Liz was my main point of contact with Somerville for many years. In particular, the 70th anniversary report on year 1950, which I edited, could never have been produced without her knowledge and enthusiasm. All questions were promptly answered and a huge amount of information was provided. I rarely met her in person, but she was a friend.
Liz was a wonderful, warm and caring woman, who always made you feel welcome and part of the Somerville family at alumni events. She will be greatly missed by us all. Sending much love to you, her colleagues and family at this very sad time.
I met you briefly, but your passion for the garden and Somerville shone through and was infectious. You are missed
Dear Liz, It was always such a pleasure to see you, whether in London or Oxford, and you comforted so many of us by being with Daphne Park in her last days. You will be much missed. With love, Catharine
Jill Hamblin (Barnes) History 1964
Liz was the History Scholar of our year, but one who wore her academic brilliance lightly. Our cohort was quite a tightly knit one despite great differences in backgrounds, political and religious views. We were friends.
From the start I was impressed by Liz’s ability to remember not just historical facts but faces, names, occasions, indeed everything that I so easily forgot. That ability not only served her well in her legal career, but has been of immeasurable value to Somerville for many years.
It is hard to believe that she won’t always be in college to welcome me with a smile and a hug, asking for news of my family. Next year is our 60th Reunion; she won’t be there, but we shall be thinking of her.
I am shocked and deeply saddened by the news of Liz’s death. It was always such a pleasure to see her at gatherings in Somerville. Her warmth, personal touch and good memory of everyone always made us all feel welcome. She was particularly kind in facilitating a tea-time reunion in College for the 1965 Modern Linguists some years ago. I should like to send my deepest sympathy to her family. She will be fondly remembered and greatly missed.
I am so saddened to hear of Liz Cooke’s death. She seemed so much a part of the very heart of Somerville that it is hard to imagine college life continuing without her. She was unfailing kind and thoughtful to me, even making it possible for Barbara Harvey to attend my wedding, despite her increasing infirmity. Liz Cooke travelled with her and I will never forget her kindness to me in the years before or since.
Thank you, Liz, for your kindness to us all.
Jill Winter (1964)
Our paths did not cross as undergraduates. It was shortly after my husband death in 1993 that Liz persuaded me to join the Development Committee. Over the next 10 years I really got to know Liz and appreciate not just her friendship and warmth but her unique ability to identify Somervillians across the generations who could make a positive difference to Somerville’s future. She was devoted to the welfare of Somerville and Somervillians and despite illness continued to make a difference long past the time when most people would have retired.
Thankyou Liz, for your friendship and my condolences to Ollie and all your friends
Pauline Adams (Emeritus Fellow)
Somerville’s debt to Liz is incalculable, not least for the central role she played in reconciling and coaxing back into college the many alumnae alienated by the decision in 1992 to admit men. As Governing Body representative on the ASM/SA Committee throughout the 1980s and 1990s I saw her in action at innumerable college events, exercising her characteristic combination of directness, sensitivity, and sheer common sense. It must have been hard work at times but she always made it seem fun, saying simply “I like talking to Old Somervillians”. I suppose that is one reason why so many of us came to love her, and to be grateful to Ollie and his family for sharing her with us.
Dear Liz, you were kindness and warmth personified, and so many people will mourn you. Although we were near contemporaries at Somerville (you came up the autumn after I sat my Finals), we never met as young women but came increasingly to enjoy each other’s company in later years. I am so glad that your death, though it has come far too soon, was at your home in Great Tew and that you were not alone. When I bid successfully for lunch with you for myself and three others in the recent Silent Auction (thank you, Somerville), I knew that it would be a delightful and memorable experience, and so it proved. The house and garden at Great Tew were as romantic and beautiful as ever (I had forgotten the biggest collection of crockery in north Oxfordshire, perhaps even in the western world!), you were your usual warm and hospitable self, though perhaps a little frailer, and my daughter came home with rose petals in her hair. Now I will remember that day as a poignant but very happy final memory of you in the glorious setting which was your creation. As ever, you spoke fondly of your son Ollie, who now, as I know, has a double load of grief to bear. I wish he could know how many strangers are thinking of him and his family and wishing them well in their sadness. Farewell, Liz, we are all the poorer without you.
I am so very, very sad to hear this. Liz was a truly extraordinary person and I feel honored and privileged to have been able to know her and interact with her over many years. We and Somerville will always remember her. She was exceptional ❤️
Dilys Wadman (1971)
Liz welcomed me so warmly when I returned to Somerville after an absence of some years. I am sorry not to have had the opportunity to spend more time with her. But –
‘For all that has been, thanks. To all that shall be – yes!’
We were so sad to hear the news of Liz’s passing. Whether reminiscing about our times as an undergraduate and subsequent visits to the college, or helping set up charitable donations, her passion for the college and interest in Somervillians invariably shone through. I think we always took for granted that Liz would be around for a friendly chat whenever we visited; we will truly miss her.
Saying you will be sorely missed doesn’t come close. You were the essence of Somerville, the very best of us. Heartfelt gratitude to you for all that you did, you supported and helped so many of us.
Love to you and your family,
Alexandra and family
I totally agree with everything everyone else has said and, though I never felt very worthy of all the great friends and acquaintances I have had over the years from Somerville, Liz always made me feel that for her I was as valued as anyone and I really cannot express how much that meant to me. She greeted warmly, remembered things about one and made one feel greatly valued. What a gracious gift.
Naomi Maxwell Macdonald
I will never forget Liz’s kindness to me and her gentle openness and the sense of a ‘welcome home’ when talking to her and visiting.
She was the person that ensured I knew I had a secure base that would always be there for me.
I was saddened at the news of her death and grateful to have known her.
I second Cynthia Graae’s praise of Liz’s contributions to the Washington DC group. Always lovely with everyone.
Liz was a genius at connection. The sheer number of tributes here, each full of appreciation and affection, is both moving in itself and a mark of a life well-lived.
Clara Freeman (Jones) 1971 History (Honorary Fellow)
What a very sad loss. Liz lived and breathed the College, and we are all indebted to her for the strength and warmth of our community.
I very much admired her care for older Somervillians, as well as her indefatigable encouragement of all alumni. When I worked with her on the Development board she was full of ambition, energy and ideas for her beloved Somerville.
When not in College, Tulip Tree House in Great Tew was the scene of many lunches and dinners, Somervillians being cosseted with delicious food, views of her beautiful garden, and absorbing conversation about books, Oxford and life.
A great lady, a great friend and a great Somervillian.
How we will miss her.
Liz was quite brilliant at what might have been a job to some people but to Liz was a passion; efficient, calm, always helpful, warm and always pleased to see you. She made you want to help Somerville and share in her pride at every aspect of college life. She made you feel how special it was (and is).
I loved visiting her and admiring her collection of jelly moulds – so quirky.
Liz was irreplaceable – what a loss.
So very sorry to hear this news. Liz was a marvel at her job, and her warmth and friendliness will be sadly missed. Sincere sympathy to her family and friends.
I’m very sad to hear of Liz Cooke’s death.
I remember her especially fondly as, in 2001, I bid for, and obtained, a weekend at her lovely home in Great Tew. She was such a warm and easy host and the weekend was great fun; thereafter she always greeted me as an old friend, but I think she had that priceless quality of remembering and responding to individuals despite the very many Somerville alumnae with whom she was in contact.
Liz brought me back into the Somerville orbit when I met her at the first alumni event I went to some years after graduating, at a watercolours exhibition in London. I was so surprised by the warmth of her welcome. This was just the start of a long and happy re-connection with Somerville and friendship with Liz.
I found her an impressive person: friendly, gentle, tactful, warm, discreet, but with a strong strategic sense and great perseverance. It is so sad to hear of her death, and my thoughts are with Ollie, whose achievements she was proud of.
She was unique in her approach to alumni relations and will be greatly missed by many hundreds of people. May she rest in peace – she has surely earned it.
I have a very happy memory of being entertained to lunch by Liz some time ago. She was such a warm, sympathetic person I am sure many of us will feel her loss.
Helen Lewis (née Goodman)
Thanks so much for the memory of Liz who was in the year above me at Somerville as an undergraduate.
Our career paths diverged (I read Medicine) but we kept in contact via alumni reunions which have introduced us to new friends as well as old.
Please send condolence to family, friends and colleagues
I was so sorry to receive this sad news. Thank you Liz for all you have achieved and for your kindness.
Mary Keegan (Honorary Fellow)
Everyone’s “best friend” from Somerville; you will be sorely missed, Liz. But you leave a wonderful legacy in the College community. Sincere condolences to all your family.
Like Liz, I came up to Somerville in 1964. Over the years I have marvelled at her energy and warmth in making Somervillians welcome. I have lived in Australia for the last 45 years so can’t visit often. The last time I visited Oxford in 2018, Liz was generous with her time and invited my husband and me to lunch in Hall. She will be very much missed.
Liz, your generosity and light remains with those who were fortunate to get to know you even a little. You gathered us into your fold, forged our strong and magnificent community and oversaw the flowering of our college in soul and body. Thank you so much.
Liz Cooke combined the best of Somerville : a great ability to achieve, together with a wonderful outgoing warmth and friendliness. Her recall of our names was amazing, and very comforting to Somervillians like me from older generations than hers. May I send my deepest condolences to Ollie and the family, and thank them for sharing their special Liz with us. We too loved her.
Liz Cooke was instrumental in our group of linguists from 1965 to 1968 remaining in touch after our 50th anniversary reunion. She was always so supportive and caring and positive, and we owe her a debt of gratitude
Liz was such a fixture it is difficult to imagine Somerville without her. Always helpful and efficient; most recently organising a late place for my sister at the last memorial service which included my mother. I will miss her kindness and intelligence.
Steve Roberts (Engineering Fellow)
Liz was a legend. Kind, welcoming, sharp as ever and with a wonderful sense of humour – the epitome of a Somervillian. You will be so very missed Liz.
Rosie Oliver (Rogers, 1976)
I have had the pleasure of knowing Liz since the early 1980s. She was such a lovely, kind and attentive lady – always with a smile and a warm welcome.
Looking back now down the years, I feel she led the way in developing the Somerville Association, helping us keep in touch with friends we made at college and the news of Somerville through the years. Without her tireless efforts, Somerville would not be the place it is today – a vibrant healthy community.
She will to my mind always be the epitome of a Somervillian, someone who forges ahead to build things in a better way while being practical and down to Earth.
I matriculated in 1976. Since then, Liz has been a constant presence in my communications with Somerville. I shall miss her open and friendly chats. You are quite right about her being the beating heart of Somerville.
Marian Dawkins (Emeritus Fellow)
Liz was an amazing person. She managed to combine great warmth with a brisk no-nonsense manner that made her ideally suited to keeping in touch with old Somervillians. I’ve seen more than one them rush up to her and hug her just for the joy of meeting her again. I don’t see how the College will fill the gap she has left. She was always immensely kind and helpful to me and she somehow managed to make everyone feel special.
Margaret Kenyon (Honorary Fellow)
Lunch at Great Tew – One of the bids in Somerville’s first auction was lunch with Liz and one’s chosen guests. I snapped it up. Sadly it had to be postponed because of her health. I tried to persuade her that of course she must treat the money as a donation, but, being Liz, she was having none of it. And so, last autumn, Christopher and I, together with Alice and Frank Prochaska, had a wonderful lunch in her beautiful welcoming house. A memory to treasure.
Thank you Liz for being such a good friend to Somerville and for helping to keep the alumni links strong. You always seemed to be at every event, mixing with everybody and so easy to talk to. You will be missed by us all.
Such sad news. Even for the ambivalent, Liz’s quiet insistence that we were all part of Somerville and therefore always welcome somehow unfailingly drew us back in and reminded us of Somerville’s value. She was a wonderful woman, Ollie. I am so sorry that you have lost her.
Liz has been the “voice of Somerville” to me for as long as I can remember, and was recently most kind and helpful when I wanted to bring my family to the Family Day in September. We will miss her greatly.
Steve Rayner, Senior Tutor
This is such sad news, like losing a member of the family, which is what it is for the Somerville family. Someone said once that Liz was the beating heart of Somerville. Somerville’s heart will continue to beat, partly due to Liz’s tireless efforts, but Somerville is a bit heartbroken to lose such a dear and vital friend. Personally, I shall miss our chats when I was feeling like going home but not just yet. Liz always made time for me, as she did for so many Somervillians, and it could often be another hour before I actually left, but I never felt the time had been wasted. You will be missed by many people, Liz. I will miss you.
Liz not only arranged some marvellous events for our alumnae, but was always at the heart of them – welcoming everyone and finding time for each one, with genuine interest in what they had to say and an enthusiasm for their Somerville anecdotes.
Liz was my constant contact with Somerville since 1956 and she was my friend. I will miss her warmth and generous spirit. I last saw her in May for the 1953 reunion. She was there for us despite battling ill health, always positive and caring. I feel so grateful to have known her. My heart goes out to Ollie and all those who bear this loss.
I had been only tangentially in touch with Somerville for many years when I contacted Liz with a proposal for a little art exhibition at the college. I was almost taken aback by how (quietly) kind and positive she was. I have seen a bit more of her in recent years and her calm friendliness has been entirely consistent. I am truly sorry to hear she has left us.
Liz Cooke did so much for the Somerville community, keeping the Alumni connected. She was always such a warm and welcoming presence. She’ll be greatly missed.
Will I ever be able to go back to Somerville knowing that Liz would not be there to welcome me?
I am so sorry to hear about Liz Cooke’s death. She was such a warm, friendly & vital person that it does not seem credible that she has died. I remember her particularly in connection with organising & being present at many, very enjoyable events held by the Somerville London Group. She was an excellent organiser in an unobtrusive way. She always displayed an intelligent & real interest in what one told her. But most of all, I shall remember her smile & her great courage in facing serious illness.
Angela Vincent (Emeritus Fellow)
I am so very sorry to hear of Liz’s death. I knew that she was ill and deeply regret not visiting her over the last few months. I came to Somerville in the 1990s, not having been an Oxford alumna before that, and she became a real friend. We shared several interests, particularly Wagner, and her involvement in Medical alamnui events was always discrete but clearly evident and absolutely essential. As I am sure you will hear repeatedly, she was a remarkable and much loved figure around the College and will be very sorely missed.
With sincere condolences to you and all other members of Liz’s family,
Angela Vincent (Bruno’s mother)
Elenore Falshaw (Lawson)
It’s hard to imagine Somerville without her – thank you for all your great work Liz. Lisa, losing a colleague you have worked so closely with for many years is like losing a family member and I know how much you are going to miss her – all my love, Elenore
Liz Cooke’s warm welcome always added to the pleasure of return visits to Somerville.
In memory of a wonderful woman!
Thank you for being a constant in the ever-changing world
Hazel Yates (Brown)
I am so very sad to hear that Liz has died. She was, indeed, a most wonderful advocate for women and for Somerville, and I’m sure she will be hugely missed by friends, family and colleagues.
Liz was an exact contemporary, and I shall never forget the first time I saw her, crossing the quad and wearing the most beautiful and glamorous outfit that matched her amazing hair, so poised and confident! I suppose I was rather in awe of her whilst we were undergraduates.
It was afterwards that I got to know her better, when she was studying for the Bar, and later when she began her absorbing life’s work as Secretary of the ASM of the College that she, and we all, loved so much. She was a wonderful organiser and so kind and thoughtful, and my late husband and I used to love our visits to College events. She undoubtedly kept the Somerville flame alive for so many of us.
Sue Griffin (1964, PPE)
It seems unthinkable that Liz’s warm welcome, with a smile and a hug, will no longer be available at every Somerville event.
Many will pay tribute to her devotion and commitment to Somerville; cumulatively, they may add up to nearing the full extent of her contribution to alumnae (and alumni) relations. Her formidable memory for people and her ability to focus on the individual she was speaking to was extraordinary, and was at the service of the College for so many years. The full extent of her efficient organisational skills will be known only to her colleagues, but could occasionally be glimpsed by the rest of us when an inevitable glitch arose and she quietly slipped away to sort it out.
It was a privilege to be her friend. We held polar opposite views on most things like politics and religion, but that was by-passed by the essence of friendship and mutual respect. She created a wonderful home in her amazing house and beautiful garden at Great Tew.
The void at our sixtieth reunion in 2024 will yawn. For all that Liz did for the College, for the year of 1964, she was ‘ours’.
Dr Alice Prochaska, Principal (2010-17)
As I come to this page only twenty-four hours after it appeared, I’m struck by the wonderful messages — so very many of them already, and Liz would have been totally astonished. Each name would have brought a reminiscent smile to her face.
I wrote to her just last week, with a message from the three living Somervillians in my family (my sister, my daughter and me) and she wrote back appreciatively. Here’s a slightly edited version.
“We want you to know, just in case you don’t already, how fantastically you are valued by the Somerville community. Claire was saying, this afternoon, what an amazing job you have done of creating this community – not just fostering it, but really making it work in the first place. She said, ‘Do you think Liz knows how much she is valued? Does she know what she has achieved?” – and then gave me examples, of which the most recent in her experience was the work you put into the commemoration of Katherine Duncan Jones.
My own experience of the way you have made this community of alumni and supporters work is huge – and too much to tire you out with chapter and verse. I’ll just say a few things. First of all, when I became Principal, quite a few people both within the College and from the alumni community, said anxiously to me “You *must* make sure Liz Cooke stays on.” I counted it one of my first tasks, to make sure that you had no doubt of being needed, wanted and immensely valued, and I was proud that you did want to stay when I was Principal (2010-17). I know Jan feels similarly proud now.
You have made generations of Somervillians feel they are valued and welcome as part of this exceptional college community. They amount to thousands. Your diligent work with them, and your interest in them (not to mention very considerable patience with some!) is what accounts for their loyalty to and love for the college. When I arrived as Principal in 2010, I very soon learned that you are legendary among the alumni officers of the Oxford colleges. A friend who for some time chaired the St Hugh’s alumni association, speaks envyingly of your reputation – and she is only one example. Nermeen and her predecessors, of course, are very much aware of what an extraordinary asset you are. There is something quite special about the way Somervillians connect with the history and future of this exceptional college – a beacon in the life of the University and also – and this is what you have so brilliantly exploited and developed – a wonderful influence in the life of our alumni. You have played a huge part personally in making that happen – more than any other individual.
I don’t want to embarrass you and I don’t want to make this email even longer … but Claire and Elizabeth and I, just three of your admiring fans, do want to make sure you realise what a very special contribution you’ve been making, over these many years.
I just wanted you to know that you are very much in the minds of very many Somervillians.”
I shall miss Liz, too. She has been a calm and warm figure at some key moments in my life. Take her response in 2010 to my having a baby at the age of 52; this seems to me to sum up her wonderful qualities:
“How lovely to hear from you! Many congratulations on Esme – she looks adorable. Are you OK? Tired, I’m sure! But it’s really a wonderful story and I am sure lots of other Somervillians would find it inspiring, if you would eventually care to write about it. I shall look forward to seeing you before too long; take care of yourself in the meantime. Warmest good wishes. Liz”.
Ariel (G.A.) Wagner (Parker)
As so many others have written, Liz was the face of Somerville, a vital link to the college for those of us who live abroad. We met infrequently – the last time was the 1969 50-year reunion – but it was always a pleasure. And between times, there was that familiar name on the correspondence. I will always remember her with affection and gratitude.
To her family, my sincere sympathy.
I knew Liz from the time she came up to Somerville. She was always friendly and helpful to deal with and having someone at college like her formed part of the links which were forged so long ago. She will be greatly missed by everyone.
Christine Fairchild, Former Director of Alumni Relations, University of Oxford
Liz was such an inspiration! Her careful attention to nurturing the special relationships she had with Somerville’s alumni had me in awe….. She was warm and generous with her time and knew just how to make each alumnus/a feel special and highly valued. Somerville is such a special place and much of that is down to Liz and her long-standing commitment to the community.
We were so very sorry to learn of Liz’s death. The term, ‘beating heart of Somerville’, really encapsulates her role over the past quarter of a century or so. Liz often said that she simply enjoyed talking to Somervillians. Her welcoming smile was a constant feature of events at Somerville and elsewhere, and made us all feel truly included in the Somerville family.
In practical terms Liz’s amazing role in extending alumni relations must have been of key help to the Development Committee, and have played a significant role in their successful fundraising campaigns to improve the College’s endowments.
It is fitting that Liz died in her beautiful cottage where I was once privileged to stay overnight. My husband Edmund and I, remembering inter alia Liz’s hospitality at A Burns Night supper about 20 years ago, send our deepest condolences to her son and other family. I very much hope to be at her College Memorial Service when we can all pay public tribute to a dear and very distinguished Somervillian.
Such wonderful memories of Liz over many, many years. She did a great job keeping in touch with us, always recognising us and welcoming us so warmly at Gaudys, garden parties and memorial services. We shall miss her dearly.
Liz was the kindly, welcoming face of Somerville at alumni gatherings for so many years. Being close to her in age and interests (we were History scholars in successive years), and living in the same area of West Oxon., I counted her as a personal friend and feel bereft at her loss.
So very sorry to hear of Liz’s death. She will be much missed, not least for her cheerful good sense, kindness, and sheer likeability. A great asset to Somerville, and a great advertisement for the College.
Very sorry to hear this sad news about Liz. She was also so kind when I contacted the college. Sending lots of love to her family, friends and colleagues.
I was very saddened to hear of the death of Liz Cooke. I knew her in the context of the medics group during the last 20 years and more recently the anniversary of the 60th year of matriculation in 1962. She was such a considerate and great organiser and so loyal and proud of Somerville. She represented a generation of Somervillians who battled such prejudice as women but she was always positive. A lovely person who will be missed.
It was such a joy to know Liz, and I will miss her cheerful welcome at events. Liz became a role model for how to sustain consistent friendships and never wavered in her positive support to me and so many others. From the City Group through to countless London Group meetings and ideas, Liz brought people together quietly and thoughtfully. Sending condolences to Ollie and the family, as well as Liz’s close friends and colleagues.
I am truly saddened to learn that Liz has left us. My deepest sympathies to her family. Liz has been so important to me and to my late mother Nan Steedman (Saunders, 1936) – and, I’m sure, many others – in her encouraging and robustly downplayed kindness. Liz had a gift for welcoming, for helping senior members overcome diffidence (in my case) about attending events at Somerville and for being a huge part, with the Principals, of making Somerville kinder and warm and interesting. She saw how people felt and I hope she realised how much we loved her.
I ever remember Liz appearing on the village green in far North Yorkshire for my mother’s funeral in 2007, bringing Nan’s great friend Jean Wilks (1936) by car and bearing condolences from Somerville. She was the most helpful of women, seemingly unflappable and humorous, so kind and intelligent and, when I last saw her, brave.
Susan Richardson (Holmes)
Dear Liz, I can’t believe that we shall not see you anymore. You represented Somerville to me on so many occasions, not least my late husband’s funeral. I’m not sure what Somerville will feel like now that you will no longer be there. I am so sorry; your wise, gentle, approachable and friendly nature will be missed by those who knew you for all time.
Fiona Broughton Pipkin
I am so sad to read this. Liz was a wonderful person, who seemed to make everyone she met feel really valued. Her work for Somerville, both as an ambassador and quietly behind the scenes, will be very hard indeed to replace.
I hardly knew her as an undergraduate, but got to know her better over the last few years, once we had discovered that we lived only about 20 miles apart. We met sometimes for lunch, and quite apart from her wide-ranging conversation, her house and garden were such a pleasure to visit. I will miss her as a a friend, and Somerville as a part of its spirit.
Liz, you did so much to keep us in regular touch with Somerville. Your welcoming smile was part of almost every visit. We will miss you so much.
What very sad news. I much enjoyed Liz’s company in College, over the years, and, like so many, I hugely appreciated her uniquely devoted, brilliant and indefatigable work for the entire community of Somervillians. It was always a delight to meet Liz in College or at a Somerville event, and to catch up and share thoughts and opinions – hers always clearly and vigorously expressed. She’ll be so much missed by us all. Deepest sympathies to Ollie and her family.
I shall miss your warmth and wicked and wry humour, Liz. From the moment I arrived at Somerville, as the first “mixed” fellow in 1992, until we last talked, earlier this year, you have shown such kindness and interest in our science and in each of us associated with our beloved College
She will be missed a lot….. Sleep well in another peaceful world. My heart breaks….
Steve Weatherill (Senior Research Fellow)
I am so sorry to hear this. Liz was so kind, so energetic, so thoughtful, so positive. Her enthusiasm was infectious, her sense of fun vivid, her love of our college unconditional. It was a pleasure and an honour to know her. She will not be forgotten.
Liz really was at the heart of Somerville for so many years. She made a significant contribution to the College and College life.
Liz will be much missed by me and so many others. Her family and friends will be in my thoughts.
Sad news indeed. During my years of retirement I have come to appreciate Liz as a key figure who helped to build on my enthusiasm and affection for Somerville, and, I’m sure, that of many others also.
Catherine Elliott (Mills, 1976)
Liz was wonderful and organised so many good events at Somerville She
lived near me and often mentioned that I should visit her. I finally got there last summer to a wonderful lunch in her beautiful garden. I am really sad to hear the news. My condolences to her family and all her friends.
So sad to hear this news. Liz was the reason I got back involved with Somerville College, having left in 1987. Her warmth, kindness, and inclusivity to all alumni was inspiring and inviting. Thank you, Liz. Rest in peace.
Stephanie Dalley (Senior Research Fellow)
A truly lovely person, and a wonderful asset to the College
Liz was lightness and brightness and pure beautiful welcoming warmth.
She was an electromagnetic force attracting Somervillians back to the mothership, reminding us we were always welcome and that we would always, always belong.
She made me more of a Somervillian. I think she made many of us more of a Somervillian.
What a gift.
Liz will be greatly missed. Every time I had dealings with her, she was exceptionally friendly and helpful. She even tracked down my old bedroom so that I could stay in it again on a return visit many years later.
Naomi Lightman (Claff)
Very sad to hear this news-will be forever grateful to Liz Cooke for her thoughtful and sensitive response to my late husband Gavin ‘s passing. My condolences to her family.
A beacon of Somerville continuity. She will be much missed.
I was shocked to hear of Liz’s untimely passing. Liz was an amazing individual, doing so much for so many people.
When I was in the City Group, she came to meetings in London and helped organise events. She was always kind and generous with her time, in particular with my aunt Christina Roaf, who was one of Somerville’s elderly emeritus academics for many years.
Liz was definitely a one-off and a major loss to Somerville and us all.
Ruth Jolly (Foote)
So very sad to hear of Liz’s death. She was such a lovely person – she embodied all that was special about Somerville. She was amazing in the way she remembered us all, knew all about us and cared so much. She was immensely good to my mother and me when we attended alumnae events. It’s hard to believe she’s no longer there: she will not be forgotten.
Anna Tweedale (1995)
I am very sorry to hear of Liz’s passing. She did so much to create a warm Somerville community for those of us who had left. I will particularly remember her warmth when Michala Emmett was tragically killed and the support she gave setting up the memorial fund. Thoughts with her family.
Liz was a fixed point at Somerville, *the* fixed point. She was the same cohort as me (1964), and so I was surprised that she had been alumnæ/i officer only since 1988—it seemed that she had always been there, kind, helpful and, I don’t know, *knowledgeable*? And she was a good friend. She was irreplaceable and will be much missed.
Liz could not have been more helpful as well as interested every time we were in touch.
She helped me apply for and win an Alice Horsman grant when setting up Shakespeare in Italy.
My questions never seemed to faze her.
Indefatigable and understated, to me Liz epitomised a gentle, kind and ever-hearing voice. She was a rare person in the white noise of today’s world.
What a loss to Somerville, but how lucky to have had her amongst us.
I only met Liz Cooke once, at a Somerville event. She went out of her way to chat, and could not have been more friendly and welcoming. I think also she did a great deal to make us old Somervillians feel part of the Somerville family.
Katherine Fricker (Young)
So sad to hear the news about Liz. I always appreciated the warm greeting she gave at Alumni events and the time she had for everyone. She loved Somerville and worked tirelessly for the Somerville community. She will be much missed. My thoughts are with her family in their loss. Kathy Fricker.
With heartfelt thanks to Liz for all her dedication to the Somerville Association and making sure all the alumni continued to feel part of the Somerville community.
Cassandra Phillips (nee Hubback)
Liz Cooke will be very much missed. She did a marvelous job of efficiently organising so many alumni events and became everyone’s friend.
Thank you so much, dear Liz, for all your welcoming, which made us feel known and valued across the years, and for your appreciation of what we had to offer. Thank you too for your hospitality, and for your beautiful garden. You really did enrich the world.
With love from Jenifer
Dr Judith McClure
Thank you, Liz, for all you did for alumnae and alumni relations. You brought home to us the importance of our time at Somerville and the influence it has had on our whole lives.
Your accuracy and swiftness of response and circulating information were admirable. I was also very pleased that you were a fellow Oxford historian!
Heartfelt thanks and congratulations for all you did, for all of us, for all those years. You will always be in our minds and hearts.
Rilly Chen (2009)
I am deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Liz. She was such an incredible and instrumental force at the development office. Her legacy, her work, her spirit, will always stay with us in memory.
I remember my last conversation with Liz in Singapore circa 2015-2016, where she was energetic and enthusiastically speaking on the development and recent changes at Somerville.
The development’s office work is deeply critical in fostering our strong sense of identity as a “Somervillian” and we will forever be grateful in having this lifelong sense of community and friendship around us.
Rest in Peace.
I have very fond memories of Liz . She was always so warm and welcoming to us all when we returned for reunions or just dropped by in college to say hello. She had a phenomenal memory for names and an ability to recall events in all our lives which made conversations with her very special. Please give my heartfelt condolences to Ollie and to her family . Liz will be missed and loved always in our memories.
Liz has been so wonderful helping me maintain my connection with Somerville, I have always been glad to see her name pop up in my emails.
Sending my condolences to her family and to Somerville – she will be greatly missed.
My heart is heavy today. Liz befriended me when I returned to Somerville as a mature graduate student after an abortive career in law. She, too, had given up the bar after successfully practising for some years. She summed up what is best about Somervillians: strength, elegance, keen interest in other people, concern about the world. I will cherish memories of laughter-filled conversations at Formal Halls, being driven to London for alumni events by Liz (ace driver that she was), candlelit Christmases at Great Tew, watching films in her ‘bothy’ along with Katherine Duncan-Jones. It feels as though something fine and irreplaceable has passed with her. I will miss her dreadfully, and send my condolences to Ollie and the rest of her family.
Kate (Cathryn) Lay
Liz was an amazing and passionate Somervillian and was for many years, single- handedly responsible for nurturing the alumni and organizing interesting events for us all. She will be much- missed and having sat with her and Lisa for lunch at this years Medical day, I have a recent personal reminder of her quiet intelligent charm.
Always calm, always helpful, always knowledgeable, and with a wicked sense of humour. Thank you for all you did for us Somervillians – even the awkward squad like me. Somerville really isn’t the same without you there. Rest in peace, dear friend.
I got to know Liz so much more after our time as students. Whenever I met her, for college events , or projects, or just popping in, she was always curious, interested, encouraging and energetic; her presence full of kindness but also a perceptive intelligence that let you know where she stood! There is now a Liz-shaped gap at Somerville.
I only met Liz a few times but was on each occasion delighted and impressed by her warm friendliness. I shall miss her in the future.
Very sorry to hear of the death of Liz Cooke. I will miss her warmth and friendship. She will be irreplaceable.
Liz was one of the very nicest, most helpful and friendly people I have known. When I was teaching Somerville medical students in the 1990s a lunchtime conversation with her led to the start of the annual Medics Day which continues to link Somerville medical alumni to the College to the benefit of all. It was Liz who did much of the organising of this among her many other tasks.
She arranged and hosted our year’s 60th reunion in 2014–a very happy occasion and just one of very many alumni events which benefited from her sure touch.
I feel I and the College have lost a true friend and send my sympathy to her family and all who knew her.
Although I only met Liz a couple on a couple of occasions she made a lasting impression with her wonderful warm welcome. I am so sorry to hear the sad news and join with many others in sending my condolences to her family and to the Somerville community. I am sure her loss will be felt very deeply.
I can hardly believe it: Liz took so much trouble to make it easy for us real oldies to stay in touch, to appreciate change, to understand where today’s College has come to and is going. It is a privilege to have known her: I shall always be grateful.
Gillian Clark (Metford)
Affectionate memories of Liz, who knew so many of us and remembered so much.
It is difficult for me to believe that Liz will no longer be with us all, supporting Somerville as she did for many years. I feel so sad. Please give my condolences to her family.
I never met Liz in person but came to know her through her letters. She really cared for Somerville and for us, the alumna. Her letters were warm, personal, encouraging, thoughtful, regular. I will miss her.
Sarah Beaver (Wilks)
I only got to know Liz in the last few years but it has been one of the real pleasures of returning to Oxford. She was so friendly, intelligent and interesting, and hospitable in her beautiful Great Tew home and we discovered that we had so many common interests. With her enormous personal warmth, enthusiasm, and unswerving commitment to Somerville she was a wonderful ambassador for it, making us all feel a valued part of the Somerville community. She will be greatly missed by so many of us.
This is very sad news. Liz was always there, keeping links between Somervillians, and it is very hard to imagine college life without her. Every message from her felt like a warm personal contact. She will be very much missed.
So sad to hear if Liz’s death. She was a good friend to many of us, and created such a feeling of fellowship. A lovely person.
She was a wonderful link to the college for alumni like myself. She was a credit to the college and will be fondly remembered.
Farrukh Arsalan Siddiqui
Sad to know about her.
Liz was one of my most loyal and longstanding friends. I only knew her slightly at Somerville, but after I moved to New Zealand 23 years ago we kept in regular email contact, and often met when I was back in Oxford. We had many common interests to talk about, including a love of cats. In September 2022 I attended the memorial for Fiona Caldicott, which she was helping to organise. I could see then that she was unwell, and she told me her diagnosis. Before leaving the country a few days later I had lunch as her guest at High Table, a very pleasant occasion and my last memory of her. I know she made a huge contribution to the life of the College, continuing to work for as long as possible despite her illness, and will be very much missed.
Please accept my deepest condolences.
Liz Cooke was such a nice person, very kind and always helpful to me while I was in the College and after I returned to Japan. I miss her deeply.
I am shocked and deeply upset that the wonderful Liz is no more. She was a very special person who was dedicated to serve the interests of Somerville College. She will be sorely missed by all those who knew her. My sincerest sympathies to her family.
Remembering Liz as a deeply warm, kind and caring Somervillian, always reaching out in helpful ways to continue the alumni connection with Somerville.
My meetings with Liz were so warm and wonderful. I will miss her.
Liz was very kind and always very welcoming. I attended some wonderful alumni events hosted by Liz in London. She updated me about Barbara Craig’s health over the years which I greatly appreciated. May her soul rest in peace.
Judith Grossman (Spink)
Liz Cooke was the essential person who kept me linked to the Somerville community, for many decades – and living in the U.S. as I do, that has meant so much to me and many others. I wish I ‘d had more opportunities to thank her for sustaining these connections. We’ll all remember her with much gratitude.
You’ll be greatly missed Liz. Shine on with the angels.
Dearest Liz, your often expressed love for Somerville was inspiring and moving. Whatever changes happened, you were there, supportive and generous. I remember you with admiration. I am very grateful to have been involved in college events you organised. You had a welcoming humanity that is rare. Love from Michele
So very, very sad to learn of Liz’s death.
She did SO much for Somerville.
Dear Liz, you were a wonderful woman. I’ll never forget your kindness to me when I was first at Somerville in the 1970s, anxious and lost. You made me feel so at home. And I’ve been touched through the years that you’ve always remembered me. How sad it is to say goodbye to you.
I was shocked and sad to hear of Liz Cooke’s death having had recent warm contact with her over the proposed seventieth reunion of our year. She was so attentive and responsive to events in the lives of Somerville’s alumnae and conveyed in person and in her communications a real sense of our continuing connection with the college .
She was always so kind, helpful and efficient-a great loss
I am so sad to receive this news. I always enjoyed communications from Liz and seeing her at Somervillian functions when I was able to return to England. Rest In Peace, best of Somervillians.
So very sorry to hear of Liz’s death. She was unfailingly kind and hospitable and invited me to Somerville several times, gently bringing me back into the fold. I liked her very much.
Oh Liz, what a beautiful and wonderful person you are! I write in the present tense because you are alive in our hearts, and will always remain so.
Deeply saddened by this news. Liz was the beating heart of alumni relations and will be greatly missed. Her friendly and genuine interest was very much part of my continuing relationship with Somerville and I feel this as a personal loss. My condolences to Ollie and her Somerville family.
Chia-Ching Dawson (née Chang)
For me, Liz’s outstanding characteristic was her great concern for & interest in the people she encountered. Her friendship will be much missed.
Liz was a fantastic point of contact after we left Somerville in 2006. She helped me apply for a postgraduate grant and helped my husband organise a surprise daytime birthday do at Somerville. Always keen to help us keep in touch, Liz was Somerville to us after we left and she will be very much missed.
Condolences and sympathy for the family and for Somerville. She achieved so much for Somerville and was such a lovely person.
So sorry to hear that we have lost Liz. A really exceptional lady: warm, friendly, efficient and very human. She seemed able to recognise and remember so many of us – quite phenomenal. She was especially helpful and proactive on the occasion of our cohort’s 50th anniversary celebrations, to which I was pleased to contribute in a small way. We will miss her very much.
I’m so very sorry to read this sad news. Liz was always such a welcoming figure at Somerville. She kindly arranged lunch for me and my partner when I visited college a few years ago. She also took me to see inscriptions I contributed to in the new ROQ accommodation block. A great loss to Somerville. From a fellow Historian xx
Alison Wolf (Honorary Fellow)
Liz was just wonderful. Somerville was so, so lucky that she devoted herself to the College and to its alumni. She was also super-determined. From the moment that she decided I might make a good President of the Somerville Association, there wasn’t really the slightest possibility that I would turn the honour down! Equally, a huge benefit of serving was that I got to know Liz better, and appreciate her amazing warmth, kindness, effectiveness and patience, and her staggering knowledge of Somervillians. It’s hard to imagine that she is gone, and miserable to think of Somerville reunions without her, but she leaves a huge legacy.
Christina Le Moignan (Somerville 1960-65)
I greatly appreciated Liz’s effective keeping us in touch with today’s Somerville in a way that would not have been possible otherwise. We are much in her debt. With my thanks, I offer my condolences to all who will miss Liz most.
So sorry to hear that Liz Cooke has died; pleased that hers was a peaceful departure.
Liz had a dry sense of humour which I much appreciated.
Dear Liz, very special respectful and thankful memories of all you made possible
for alumnae/alumni and your always quiet, warm welcome. With love from Harriet (and thanks for returning my hat!).
Liz was always warm and full of life. She started many initiatives to keep Somervillians in touch with each other and the College. Our online book club encouraged by Liz and started in lockdown, is still going strong!
Liz was a lovely welcoming introduction to the Somerville Association and a constant presence. So very sorry to lose her.
What a warm and likeable woman she was.
I am very sorrow to hear of Liz Cooke’s death. Somerville Alumni will not seem the same without her, even though I know the association will continue all the good work she did over so many years. She was always so ready to facilitate contacts, return visits to college, introductions to new fellows and alumni, and always so enthusiastic and interested in one’s doings. May she now rest in peace, and may we carry forward her legacy of support for each other.
I am very sorry indeed to hear the news of Liz’s passing. Over the many years of our friendship she kept alive for me a very personal sense of belonging to the Somervillian community by her personal warmth and her own sense of responsibility to the College. The pandemic kept us apart for the past few years but her memory will remain alive for me.
With sympathy for her family,
What a shock to hear of Liz’s death! I think of her as such a young Somervillian! A whole seventeen years behind me at Somerville! If that is a recent picture of her, she has certainly changed a lot since I last saw her at the funeral of Nancy Rowlinson in Headington Quarry church in 2012. Of course, she invited me to lunch in college next day. I could write more, but apparently I’m being told to submit.
Liz was an extraordinary woman whose interpretation of her role in the Development Office convinced me and I’m sure many others that she was genuinely interested in Somerville alumnae and not just in the business of fundraising. I shall really miss her kind concern and friendly approach.
Naomi Layish (Shepherd)
Liz Cooke helped me re-establish contact with Somerville after many years abroad and was welcoming and helpful on all occasions. Her devotion to the college and its alumni was clear, and I am deeply sorry to hear of her death.
Liz was such an invaluable member of the Somerville community, with her inviting smile and easy manner; no wonder alumni relations thrived with her great contribution. It is hard for me to imagine Somerville without her.
I appreciated her encouragement to attend and report on funerals of old members when she was unable to attend herself. Thank you, Liz
Sue Canderton (Hutchison)
I am so very sad to hear of Liz’s passing. She has been an absolute stalwart of Somerville alumni relations for more years than I can remember – a delightfully familiar presence at so many events, in College and further afield. And, recently, I had the pleasure of joining her for wonderfully interesting discussions in the Somerville London Book Group – what a privilege. I considered her a friend. Somerville has a truly wonderful alumni programme. 36 years since I first stepped through those great wooden doors as an undergraduate, I have never felt so much part of this precious family – and Liz played a huge part in that. Thank You, Liz, you will be very much missed. May you rest in peace.
She wasn’t just the “face” of Somerville – she WAS Somerville. My deepest condolences to her family.
So sorry to hear the news. It’s a loss for all of us. She was the soul of College, and very wise and sensitive. It was a great privilege to know her. College won’t be the same without her.
So sorry to hear the news about Liz. A wonderful advocate for Somerville and for all alumni. Alumni events won’t be the same without seeing her. Sincere condolences to her family.
What sad news.
I only came across Liz through the Somerville Association but she was always helpful, cheerful and a delight to spend time with. She was very valuable to the College in furthering the development of the Association. I shall miss her enormously.
Her family have my very deepest sympathy.
I am very sad to hear this news. I really didn’t know Liz well but I always so enjoyed her company when I met at Somerville events. She worked incredibly hard for us all and will be much missed.
So very saddened to hear the news of Liz’s death. It is difficult to imagine Somerville without her. She absolutely embodied our College values and gave unhesitatingly of her warmth, kindness and knowledge to all. Sending condolences to her family and friends.
Liz was a real connector. I live in the US and always felt after I moved here that she wanted me to know that it still mattered that I kept up my Somerville connection. Thank you , Liz. You will be missed.
Condolences, Liz was wonderful in maintaining contact with Somervillians
Such sad news, but I will treasure all the time I spent with Liz, her commitment to Somerville and her wise advice and friendship.
Liz was always a kind, welcoming face at Somerville. Her interest in the lives of all alumni and her extraordinary memory for every one of us made everyone feel part of the Somerville family. She will be a very hard act to replace for the college, but there are many people who feel they have lost a good friend.
Liz was my lifeline to Somerville ever since I left almost thirty years ago. May she rest in peace.
Onora O’Neill (Honorary Fellow)
Conversation with Liz was always a great pleasure. I last saw her early in the pandemic at her house in Great Tew. We sat (duly distanced!) in her garden among her many evergreen shrubs and hedges and kept more or less warm. We ranged across numerous topics, and the time sped past. Like many others, I shall miss talking with Liz.
I was very sad to hear this news. I had known Liz since the 1970’s, when I was a student, and never imagined a time when I might come to Somerville and not see her. There had been changes of Principal, Librarian and many other staff, but through the 1970s, the ’80s, the 90’s, and all through the 2000s until 2023, Liz was there. She was unfailingly cheerful, always warm, always remembered one and one’s classmates, always down to earth. I miss her already and will all the more on my next visit to Oxford. My condolences to her family.
Cynthia Norris Graae
I grieve at the news of Liz’s death. I was at Somerville (1962-64) just before Liz. I got to know her through Somerville alumni activities. She was an important part of Somerville and a great help to the Washington DC group for many years. She became a good friend to me and my late husband Steffen. I will never forget our wonderful visit to her house in Great Tew. I send my condolences to all who grieve at this loss, especially to Oliver.
Oliver, please know that your mother was well loved.
I was so sad to read this news. Liz and I had been due to have lunch recently, which was then postponed. I got to know her when she began her alumni role and she was always so warm, and so competent. Through our mutual friendship with Katherine Duncan-Jones we were more in touch and I grew to admire her more. My deepest sympathies are with her family.
You are unforgettable, Liz.
You gave me belief in myself in dark times.
You made Somervillians a family to which we would always belong.
Your influence must last for ever.
You are worthy of heartfelt thanks.
May you rest in peace
So very sorry to hear the news of Liz’s death. She was a constant reminder of Somerville, so active with connecting and reconnecting people with the college. I met her in person a few times after the pandemic and sat with her over lunch at several recent events. RIP Liz, you were a very special Somervillian.
Margaret Casely-Hayford (Honorary Fellow)
When so many people pass through an institution, annually, it’s hard for most to make a mark, but Liz Cooke didn’t forget any of us and made each feel that we had truly left an indelible mark on College. In reality it was Liz’s capacity to welcome and embrace each of us that will mean that she has left a truly lasting mark.
I for one will never forget her and will remember her with immense fondness and huge gratitude.
Jennifer Hindell (Thomas 1952)
Liz was the best organiser for old Somerville events, really bringing warm friendliness to every occasion.
Suzanne E Dawes (nee Cooper)
In the years since I left Somerville, Liz has been my main connection on alumnae matters. On one occasion, I recall arriving at the lodge, jet-lagged from Canada. I was immediately greeted by LIz. She first made sure I had my room information and then invited me to join her in the SCR for refreshments and a chat. My condolences to her family and the Somerville community.
Many condolences to Liz’s family. She had a rare and magical ability to make things happen. Somerville will be much the poorer with her passing.
Dearest Liz, you will be so much missed, mourned and lamented. Your unfailing kindness has been an inspiration to us all and your contribution to Somerville is legendary.
All your friends are weeping. Sending condolences and sympathy to your family.
Judith Mitchell (Bainbridge) PPE 1967
My fondest memories of Liz come from many meetings of the Somerville London Group.
Also , back in the days when our newsletters were printed and posted, from visits to College to collect the boxes of labels to facilitate this process.
Liz would always offer me lunch (and a view of the Ivon Hitchins paintings) and the friendliest of chats over coffee afterwards.
Liz Cooke was the ever-professional and always-efficient heart of the wider Somerville family. We felt that there was someone who, however long ago we graduated, would instantly recognise and greet us whenever we came back to college. She will be greatly missed by all Somervillians.
Dr Karimjee Shabu
I just can’t imagine Somerville without you. Thank you so much for your encouragement and support over the last 52 years
Thank you, Liz, for holding so many of us together for so long.
So sorry to hear she has died. Sympathies to those closest to her.
Jane Robinson (Senior Associate)
Liz embodied Somerville’s humanity to me: she was welcoming, witty, inspiring, warm-hearted without being sentimental, innovative, proactive, endlessly supportive and brilliant company. Because of her quiet energy and natural modesty we may never know how much we owe her, both collectively and individually, but it’s certain that without her the college would not have become the inclusive community we know and love today. And without her, it’ll never feel quite the same. I’ll miss her.
Liz was a wonderful friend. Visit to Great Tew were highlights of my year. Liz was Somerville, I will miss her hugely. Please pass on my deepest sympathy to her son and his family.
Nicola Davies (1965, Modern History)
I would like to offer my condolences to Liz’s family. Always kind, friendly and efficient.
Dear Liz, we will all miss you so much. Your quiet efficiency was phenomenal and I will always appreciate you asking me to run Media conferences for the College and being so good at getting speakers. As Rolling Stone said about Janis Joplin – one of our aircraft is missing. I am so sad to hear that you are no longer with us and I will really miss you. My condolences to Ollie and Liz’s family family and colleagues.
Liz was very kind to me when I was widowed and we had some lovely lunches together. She was a great force for good in the village. Always interested and kind.
Peter and Catherine Oppenheimer
We are so, so sorry. A lovely person. We had no thought that this was imminent.
To me, and to so many other alumnae, Liz was for so many years the face and voice of the College, symbolising everything that the College stood for. She had so much charm and enthusiasm, a phenomenal memory, and showed a genuine interest in all of us. She will be so greatly missed.
Ruth Finnegan (Honorary Fellow)
With my love and respect, dear Liz – your memory and your work and your beloved Somerville and Somervillians will live on, not least because of you.
All blessings as angels sing you home
Thank you Liz for encouraging me to come back to visit Somerville in 2009 for the first time in nearly 40 years, following which I have made many happy and enjoyable visits to the college for the interesting activities that you have played such an important part in hosting. I will miss our chats about our gardens! Thanks from the bottom of my heart for all your hard work and dedication, rest in peace.
Wonderful Liz, You made me so welcome and your memory was extensive! Thank you for drawing me back into connection with Somerville. I am so sad you are gone and I will miss you enormously. More than a friend, you felt like family to me.
Very sad news. Liz was a real people person and she will be sorely missed.
I’m deeply saddened to hear of Liz’s passing. In recent years, she’s been the face of Somerville for me, so committed to getting alumnae and alumni involved in the life of the college, beyond college. I will miss her very much.
I am so grateful to have known Liz and benefitted from her kindness and friendship – most recently as she laughed at my “essay crisis” before the Spring Alumni Meeting. She brought me back into contact with the college and it is hard to imagine Somerville without her. We will miss her warmth and wisdom
Liz was a true Somervillian – it was a great privilege to know her and to have worked with her. I’m so very sorry to hear this news – she will be missed and affectionately remembered.
Philippa Schofield (née Cash, 1976)
Liz was not only a great friend to me but also an unstinting and cheerful support. I shall miss her very much. Her work in support of the alumni network was fantastic.
It was thanks to Liz that I re-engaged with Somerville. She was wonderful at keeping Alumni informed and was so welcoming when we met. I’m very sad to hear of her death before her time.
Liz did a wonderful job in keeping us connected and feeling welcomed at Somerville. We will miss her very much.
Irene Lynch Fannon
My sincere sympathies to Liz’s family on this sad news. Liz contributed so much to the Somerville alumni community. Personally I will always treasure her handwritten notes of thanks for even the smallest donations. She will be sadly missed by the Somerville community.
Margaret Adams (Emeritus Fellow)
She was such a tower of strength – despite her recent ill health. it is hard to imagine Somerville and alumni events without her. She will be missed so much by us all.
I am very sorry to learn of Liz Cooke’s passing. She is gone too soon, her passing a heavy loss for the Somerville community that she served devotedly for many years. I feel the loss personally because, as a 1988 graduate living in the United States, I came to know and treasure Liz as my lifeline to the community of Somerville. When I returned to Somerville in 2007, Liz gave me and my family a very warm and gracious welcome, which we still remember as a highlight of our trip. I am grateful that my two children got to meet the wonderful Liz Cooke. We will all miss her terribly. I send my deepest condolences to her family.
This is very sad: she was indeed at the heart of Somerville and kept alumnae and alumni in touch with the college. She will be sorely missed. Penny
Irreplaceable Liz, I was so sorry to hear of her death. Her warmth, genuine interest in people and extraordinary memory of names and connections made her an amazing ambassador for Somerville. The College owes her a huge debt in terms of steadily building and maintaining the web of alumni the College over many years.
Susan Loewenthal Lourenço
I went down in 1957, had nothing to do with the College for decades, partly as I no longer lived in England. When Daphne Park came to the USA, it was through Liz that I continued the renewed start to my relationship to Somerville. My sabbatical year in Oxford a few years later was eased by Liz, and after my marriage and my move to Israel, it was Liz who discovered other Somervillians of previous generations there so that I could bring us together! Visits to Oxford always included lunch with Liz, so that for years it was Liz who continued the connection to the College. One year, she asked me to write an obituary for one of the Somervillians, a year behind me, who’d become one of my closest friends, so far from Somerville. For me and surely many others, Liz was the personification of the College we had left so many decades earlier.
In the years after I left Somerville, Liz was a constant point of reference. Always quick to respond, helpful and always interested in what I was up to. Liz, you will be really missed
I am deeply saddened by the news that Liz Cooke has passed away. She has been wonderfully helpful and very kind with me and my mother on our visits to Somerville College. She was a true Somervillian, and honored the spirit of the College. Sincere condolences to her family and friends.
We shall all miss Liz so much. She was wonderful company, an attentive listener and a reliable source of advice and good sense. Her devotion to Somerville was obvious and her care for its members unfailing,
It is with much thanks to Liz that I have continued to feel part of the Somerville community. Her name will always be synonymous with the Somerville alumni group.
I pray she rests in perfect peace. Thank you Liz.
I am very sad to get this news. It is only a few months ago that I sat at a Somerville event and talked to Liz. Although she showed signs of her illness, she was cheerful and we talked about the future. She has been a good friend over many years, including once putting me up at her lovely house in Great Tew. And, most important, she was the person who suggested I should come back to Oxford when I was thinking of doing a doctorate. I did come back, and to Somerville, in 2006 and was awarded a DPhil in Medieval History in 2011 as a start to my retirement as a technology lawyer.
Anila Dias Bandaranaike (Somerville 1976-1977)
So very sad to get the news of Liz Cookes’ demise. She was so much an integral part of Somerville. My deepest sympathies go out to her family, especially her son Ollie.
I shall always remember being corrected by Liz when I told her I was an Ex-Somervillian. She told me very firmly that no such thing existed. Ever since I have felt part of the family and shall always feel very grateful to her for instilling this in me.
She really was a wonderful person.
I last spoke to Liz just a few weeks ago, and she was, characteristically, making the argument that European and British politicians were not without blame in having isolated Putin and made him feel that Russia was isolated and under threat. I shall miss our historical discussions, and her always interesting, informed point of view on so many issues. And her kindness to me over decades, so much appreciated. Dear Liz, rest in peace and rise in glory.
Liz was wonderful at maintaining links with Old Somervillians- her friendly warmth and knowledge of us all will be very sadly missed. It was always a great pleasure to see her on visits to the college.
Please pass on condolences to her family. It’s a very sad loss for us all.
Rhiannon Wakefield (nee Hogg)
I have fond memories of a wonderfully dedicated lady who was so passionate about Somerville College. My sincere condolences to Liz’s family, friends and colleagues.
Remembering a true friend to Somerville and to every Somervillian. Liz, thank you, you leave a wonderful legacy.
It is impossible to overstate Liz’s importance to Somerville over so many years. In particular, her tireless work in encouraging alumnae to take part, to keep in touch, to do whatever she wanted us to! I regard her as a longstanding and dear friend and will miss her very much. I should like to record not only my personal sadness and regard for her, but that of all members of the Somerville Espionage Book Group, of which she was until recently a valued member.
Celia Wrighton (1992-1995)
Liz, you were everything that Somerville stood for: welcoming and kind, patient and wise. You were not only with me through my whole undergraduate journey but also for nearly thirty years afterwards, keeping in touch and giving encouragement when I sent in my news. Somerville will be all the poorer without you.
Quiet, friendly, elegant, ageless, unflappable, Liz was quite simply the public face of Somerville to returning alumni. She will be very much missed.
Sohaila Malone-Lee (Rastan)
Rest in Peace, dear Liz. Greatly missed.
So sorry to hear this news. I shall miss my communications with Liz. My condolences to her family.
I am deeply saddened to learn this news. Liz gave herself as a friend to us alumnae/alumni. She knew us, remembered details about our lives, invited us to visit, greeted us with delight, enjoyed our company and made us feel part of Somerville, always. Even when she was ill she projected that same buoyant kindness. She often told me how much she loved my mother, who was an undergraduate in the War, and I remember my mum glowing after conversations with her on the phone. I think love is the clue to everything about dear Liz. It’s what she radiated, and it will be her greatest legacy at Somerville. Yes, she will be deeply missed, and we’ll all have to carry forward her example as best we can. My profound condolences to her family, and to college.
June Raine (Honorary Fellow)
We share a profound sense of loss at today’s sad news. Liz Cooke was the very epitome of all that Somerville stands for – doing the right thing and doing the thing right.
Always putting the College at the heart of everything she did, for many of us Liz had become the very spirit of Somerville.
The Medics Annual Meeting would never have been the focal point it has become without Liz’s efforts with the medics committee – encouraging, nudging and thinking ahead to make every occasion as rewarding and enjoyable as it could be for everyone.
Never looking for personal profile or praise, Liz quietly ensured that everyone’s expectations and needs were met. We medics will all miss Liz more than we can say. We are so lucky to have known her.
I am so sad to hear that Liz has died, and send my deepest condolences to her son Ollie. Liz was such a warm, encouraging support when I was a member of the Somerville medics’ group. I will miss her great capacity for reaching out and inclusivity, which drew me back into the fold after many years’ absence from college events.
A Somerville institution.
So sad to hear this news.
Always a pleasure to spend time with you and catch up with Somerville news.
You will be greatly missed.
I did get to know Liz Cooke in the 2000’s in her role as Somerville’s very kind leader in building alumni relations. I can never forget how she reached out to me when I returned to College twice on short term visiting fellowships, how caring she was in making me feel welcome.
May her soul rest in eternal peace.
I was shocked and deeply saddened to learn of Liz’s death.
Liz was a warm and sensitive person and had a great capacity to make everyone feel welcomed and put them at their ease. Her knowledge of Somerville’s alumni was a treasure trove and she was always able to put you in touch with the right person.
She will be much missed.
I was deeply saddened to read of Liz’s passing. I attended Somerville from 1978-80 and since then Liz has always been my go-to person for any questions that I might have. Whenever I was in the UK and wanted to visit, she was always so kind, fun, and welcoming. She will be sorely missed.
I have had the great pleasure of getting to know Liz over the past more than ten years as a member of the Somerville London Group. Liz’s unfailing support, kindness, positivity and action to further Somerville alumni relations has been inspiring. Over the years I realised how much Liz meant to me and that she had became a friend – it was always a joy to see her.
Sincere condolences to her family.
With deepest sympathy, Krystyna
At every Somerville event that I attended since I moved to Oxford in 1993 Liz was there – having already master-minded so many things behind the scenes in order to make the occasion go off smoothly. She was always ready with a cheerful greeting and an astonishing way of remembering what everyone had been up to. I shall miss her as a Somerville friend, so reliable and supportive.
Dear Liz, so warm and supportive, always kind and patient even with those who did not deserve it! You put your heart and soul into helping us alumni retain a lifelong sense of being Somervillian.
Nobody will ever wear your shoes.
Nermeen Varawalla (1989, Clinical Medicine; current President of the Somerville Association)
Having matriculated in 1989 I have known Liz through all my time as a Somervillian. Hence I struggle to imagine a Somerville or our Somervillian community without Liz. As we come to terms with this huge loss for each us as Somervillians, personal friends of Liz and our beloved college, I take solace from my many, many wonderful memories of Liz and the knowledge that Liz will remain an integral part of Somerville’s fabric for ever more. I am honoured to have been invited by Liz to serve as her last President of the Somerville Association and know that we will all miss Liz in more ways that we can imagine.
I remain in grief at our enormous loss.
It was an honour to work with Liz as part of her tireless efforts for alumni, and it is a measure of the person she was that the last I heard from her, some weeks ago, was an expression of kindness, encouragement and good wishes.
May she rest in peace, and my deepest condolences to her family and friends.
I am so sorry to hear the news about Liz Cooke and send my deepest sympathies to her family and friends. I met her several times in her alumni relations capacity and remember her as kind, attentive and absolutely unflappable. She even very kindly pulled some strings to get me a room in college when I attended a conference in Oxford several years ago. Her contribution to Somerville was immense. She will be sadly missed.
Liz was always terribly kind to me whenever I came back to college and had such a terrific memory. She was always so delighted to showcase the exciting things that were happening around the college and she clearly lived and breathed the place. I’m so sorry to hear of her death. I’m sure trips back to Somerville won’t be the same without her.
Eleni Potamianos (1994, Jurisprudence)
Liz Cooke was a kind person who contributed greatly to Somerville’s friendly atmosphere. Condolences to her family, friends and colleagues
Very sad to hear of Liz’s passing – she was a wonderful woman. My thoughts are with her family.
Charlotte Graves Taylor
With gratitude, affection and sadness – Charlotte
So sorry to hear this news. I’ll always remember Liz as a warm-hearted, indefatigable encourager. Her enthusiasm for Somervillians and her encyclopaedic knowledge of who matriculated when & with whom, reading what & for how long was frankly astonishing. I last saw Liz at Katherine Duncan Jones’ memorial where she jested that I was more patient than she could ever be: ridiculous, of course, but indicative of Liz’s humour, modesty & gentle supportiveness.
I’m so sorry to hear of Liz’s passing. She was so welcoming to me as I transitioned out of Somerville and into the wider world – I remember being surprised and then delighted and encouraged by her warmth and enthusiasm for all I might go on to do. She’s such a huge part of why I’m still in touch with the college and leaves a huge legacy of kindness.
Liz was my link to Somerville since 1999, always sending emails of encouragement, only last month encouraging me as a nurse, and my friend as a speech and language therapist (also a Somerville graduate) to attend the ‘Medics’ Day, that we would be warmly welcomed. I got the impression that she really cared about us all.
I am deeply sorry to hear about the passing of Liz, who meant so much to the Somerville community and was always a friendly and kind face around College. Sending heartfelt condolences to her family and friends.
So sorry to hear that Liz is no longer with us. Such a warm, welcoming and enthusiastic person, with a real passion for Somerville. I always enjoyed my interactions with her and greatly appreciated the time and effort she took to keep in touch.
Deborah Bowen, nee Hewitt
So very sorry to hear of Liz’s death. She has been such a kind and competent communicator about the college, over many years that we’ve been in Canada. I have appreciated her very much!
So sad to hear the news. She was a wonderfully upbeat connection for me to the college. So much appreciated since I live in the US. Her knowledge and connection with so many of us will be greatly missed.
Charlotte ter Haar (née Raeburn) 1972
I’m so sorry to hear of Liz’s death. She was always so friendly and welcoming, and had an amazing capacity for remembering all of us alumnae. She will be very sadly missed by both Somerville and the wider community of ‘old’ Somervillians.
I am so sorry to hear of the sad passing of Liz Cooke. She seemed so well and her usual vibrant self at the Gaudy last year. For me, Liz represented the enduring link for me over the decades since I left. Always positive, always interested your news and somehow so very Somervillian. She will be missed greatly and I am sending her family and friends my heartfelt condolences.
Liz was so wonderful and kind to everyone – even in a few interactions she left a great mark on me. She will be greatly missed.