Life After Tappan Zee

Leonard Cooke
1932 Graduation Picture
Recent Picture

I graduated from Tappan Zee High School in 1932 with John Gallucci, Pauline Bower, and Louis Pesanelli to name a few. Mr. Stitler was the principal. I played every sport that I could play; football, basketball and baseball. I still carry the scar from breaking my wrist in football. My strongest sport was swimming and a swim across the Hudson River was my favorite pastime. In high school, I won the NY State typing contest. I went on to take postgraduate courses as was the trend for those who could not afford to go to college. I married Elizabeth James and we have a daughter, Juanita who is a 1957 graduate of Tappan Zee.

I worked as a chauffer for many of the famous who lived on South Mountain Road including Maxwell Anderson and Madge Evans, the movie star. I went to work at Iona Island where I loaded ammunition for the war and then on to Eastern Aircraft in Tarrytown to make planes. When the war ended the plant converted to General Motors and I was a spot welder. Later I became the first African-American supervisor. From March to November, I traveled to the plant in Tarrytown by boat…..first by Bob Lee's ferry and later by my own boat until the Tappan Zee Bridge was built in 1955. I worked at General Motors for 32 years.

Through the years I have been active in many social organizations and always attempted to make life better for all. Below is a list of the organizations I have been active in and chaired:

Contact Information


Snail-Mail: 28 Burd Street Nyack, New York 10960 / 7342 Kensington Court University Park, Florida 34201

Phone: 845.358.2890 / 941.358.3225