DEATH OF MR. E. COOKE.
THE COMMISSIONER OF AUDIT. A DISTINGUISHED PUBLIC SERVANT
Mr. Ebenezer Cooke, who for nearly a quarter of a century tos associated with the control of the Audit Office of South Australia, first in conjunction with Mr.
Alfred Heath and later as sole Com- missioner of Audit, died on Tuesday morn ing at bis residence, South terrace. He passed peacefully away in the presence of the members of his family. Mr. Cooke was one of tbe most valued Go- vernment servants of tltc State, and oc- cupied tbe unique position of being the head of a department that by the will of the Legislature is absolutely five from any kind of political influence. His re- gime in that responsible office was charac- terized by devoted attention to the good of tbe general body of taxpayers. He was a man who applied himself intensely to the duties of his position, and from the time when be entered his othce to the hour at which he left—and often at home far into the night— the work of his de- partment occupied his full attention. His annual financial reviews were al- ways models of fearless criticism and lucid presentation of facts concerning the work of the several Government departments. They were looked for with eager interest by legislators and taxpayers alike, and were frequently valuable for the clear manner in which some of the political schemes of the time were examined and their fallacies laid bare, The deceased gentleman possessed with uncommon gifts as a mathematician, a vein of dry humour, he was we!l informed on all current topics, with a particularly good knowledge of the political history of the State and of Australia cent- rally: and, tbough he at one time took a prominent part in public affairs, and dis- cussed with avidity questioned before Par- liament, after his induction to the control of the Audit Office he 'knew no politics'' and allowed no party bias to sway his judgment. Combining, as he did, a judi- cial mind with great experience of business methods and remarkable skill in accoun- tancy and finance, it is hardly to be wondered at that he made such a success of tbe office which was founded as the result of the work of the Royal Commission on Finance, of which he was Chairman, in the early eighties. Privately he was of a most sociable and genial nature. Mr. Cooke. who was at the time of his death 74 years of age, was sent to South Australia from England in 1863 as ffinancial representative and accountant of the English and Australian Copper Com pany at Port Adelaide, and on the retirement of the general manager (Mr. Hamilton) he succeeded to the chief position in the office. In 1875 he entered the House of Assembly as member for Flinders, and on July 31, 1879. was appointed a member of tbe Royal Commission on Finance, of which he was Chairman daring its deliberations, which extended over nearly three years. The third progress report of that commission. dated May 2. 1882, .recommended the crea- tion of the Audit Office and the appoint- ment of two Commissioners of Audit, one of these positions was conferred on Mr. Cooke, and he resigned his seat on October 24, 1882, to take up the duties of the office, which he entered upon in the fol- lowing February. During his Parliamen- tary career he was also a member of a royal commission on education. One of Mr. Cooke's most intimate friends said:— 'He was the soul of honour. I do not think I ever met a man so absolutely gonest and free from guile and diplomacy.
He was extremely just in his decisions, and never expressed an opinion on a case until be had fairly heard both sides. He never had any special liking for social pro- minence, and his life was lived quietly and without ostentation. Mr. Cooke was twice married. His first wife was Miss Eliza Ogden. and the three children of the union were Dea- coness Mary, who is a missionary sister in India in connection with tbe Society for the Propagation of tbe Gospel; Mr. Cooke, late accountant for Chaffey Brothers' irri- gation colonies, and now of Melbourne; and Mr. W. E. Cooke, Government Astro nomer of Western Australia. The deceas- ed gentleman's widow is a sister of Mr. W. Herbert Phillipps. and the second family consists of Mr. J. Herbert Cooke (Mayor of Unley). Mrs Alfred Dancker, and Miss Florence Cooke, Mus. Bac. The late Mr. Cooke's eldest bro- ther, the Rev. John Cooke, is a noted Egyptologist, and the editor of one of the principal Baptist weeklies of England. The deceased was a man of considerable musical talent, and in early life was con- spicuous in Adelaide as an organizer of clas- sical concerts. He was also an authority on art, and the tinting of photographs was one of his special hobbies.
Mr. Cooke was a distinguished Freema- son, and took a prominent part in all matters in connection with the Grand Lodge of South Australia. He had held the highest offices outside of those of Grand Master and Deputy Grand Master, and was a Past Master of the United Tradesmen's Lodge. In addition to Craft Masonry, he went through the chairs in Royal Arch and Mark Masonry. Mr. Cooke will be buried this afternoon at tbe North Road Cemetery. — Viceregal and Ministerial Sympathy.— In accordance with a request from His Excellency the Governor (Sir George Le Hunte) on Tuesday afternoon, the Pre mier wrote to Mrs. Cooke an follows:— 'Dear Madam— I am desired by His Ex cellency the Governor to express to you his heartfelt sympathy with vou and your family in your sad bereavement— Yours faithfully, Thomas Price, Premier.' On behalf of the members of the Minis- try, the Chief Secretary forwarded tbe fol- lowing letter to Mrs. Cooke:— 'Dear Madam —I wish to express to you and your family the sincere sympathy of tbe Ministry in your sad bereavement. In the lamented death of your husband the public service has lost a valued, faithful, and respected official and the State an honoured citizen. —I am. dear madam, yours faithfully, A. A. Kirkpatrick, Chief Secretary'