On June 1, 1920, the forerunner of Cooke Foundation, Limited, the Charles M. and Anna C. Cooke Trust, was created by Anna C. Cooke. The purpose of the Trust was:

“to assure in some measure the continuance of, and also to extend and expand, all worthy endeavors for the betterment and welfare of this community and other communities by gifts and donations to the United States of America, any State, Territory, or any political subdivision thereof, and to corporations now or here after organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, or educational purposes, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals …”

The funding for the Trust was 300 shares of Charles M. Cooke, Limited.

Anna Charlotte Cooke was born in Honolulu on September 5, 1853, the fifth child of William H. and Mary H. Rice who were missionaries to the Islands. She grew up on Kaua‘i, and in April of 1874 married Charles M. Cooke. Charles Montague Cooke was born in Honolulu on May 16, 1849, the fifth child of the missionaries Amos S. and Juliette M. Cooke. He died August 17, 1909.

Charles M. Cooke, Ltd. was made, at Charles’ suggestion, by incorporating his and Anna’s holdings. He had obtained his considerable holdings over the years by first working for Castle and Cooke by investing in sailing ships carrying sugar, molasses and rice; by becoming a partner in Lewers and Cooke, Ltd., a lumber company; by acquiring large holdings in Lihu‘e Plantation, Hawaiian Agricultural Company, C. Brewer Company; and through other investments, such as Hawaiian Electric Company, Mutual Telephone Company and ‘Ewa Plantation Company. After his retirement in 1894, he and P.C. Jones started the Bank of Hawai‘i in 1897 and later, Hawaiian Trust Company.

In 1898, as Charles was making his will, he wrote Anna, in California at the time, suggesting that they merge their holdings. He didn’t want his holdings to be made public when he died, as was customary in those times. Additionally, as stated in his will:

“… the object of forming said corporation (Charles M. Cooke, Ltd.) was to hold my wife’s and my own estate intact for the benefit and enjoyment of our children …”

Anna agreed to this plan, so Charles M. Cooke, Ltd. was formed, one-fifth shares belonging to Anna, four-fifths to Charles M. Cooke. Clarence H. Cooke, speaking of his father:

“… I have often marveled at the clear foresight of father in forming this corporation as a means of holding the family as a unit, each of his children continuing to hold equal interest in ownership. That never could have resulted if a distribution of his holdings had been made at the time of his passing, thus keeping the family together, and continuing the form of investments along the lines that he personally originated …”

Charles M. Cooke, Ltd. was dissolved at the end of 1942, and its assets distributed to its fifty-eight stockholders. The first Trustees of the Charles M. and Anna C. Cooke Trust were Anna C. Cooke and her six children: C. Montague Cooke, Jr., Clarence H. Cooke, George P. Cooke, Richard A. Cooke, Alice C. Spalding, and Theodore A. Cooke. Meetings were held on Thanksgiving Day on Anna’s lanai at her country home at Malaekahana.

In 1971, Theodore Cooke, who served as president of the Trust from 1944-1971 having succeeded Clarence Cooke in this position, resigned. Richard Cooke, Jr. was then elected president of the Trust that had now passed to the third generation of Cookes.

In June of 1971, Charles M. and Anna C. Cooke Trust, a private foundation, was incorporated in compliance with the Federal Internal Revenue Code. The Charles M. and Anna C. Cooke, Ltd. was formed. In 1972, the first annual report was published by the Trust. Scheduled Trustee meetings were inaugurated, to be held four times a year. Past meetings had been held once a year in December at Theodore Cooke’s home. The assets of the Trust were transferred to Hawaiian Trust Company, Ltd. to act as financial agent, manage the endowment portfolio, and to act as grants administrator. Prior to this, Clarence Cooke and then Theodore Cooke had managed the portfolio and been grants administrators. The number of Trustees was later increased from five to six so that each family would be represented.

In 1980, the name of Charles M. and Anna C. Cooke, Ltd. was changed to Cooke Foundation, Limited,

“… recognizing the expanded interests of family members, and wishing to reflect this broadened perspective, we have become the Cooke Foundation, Limited as of July 1, 1980.” 

Samuel A. Cooke was made a Trustee in 1973, and when Richard Cooke moved to California in 1989, Samuel Cooke was elected president. In 1988, Hawai‘i Community Foundation was made grants administrator.

At the 1987 April meeting, the Trustees adopted the policy that each Trustee appoint one or two alternates from their branch of the family to serve in their stead when they were unable to attend a meeting, or in the case of the Trustee’s death, be the successor to the Trustee, subject to the board’s approval. The Alternate Trustees receive a copy of the minutes of meetings and attend the last board meeting of each year. In this way, the Trustees felt that more members of the family would become involved in Cooke Foundation, Limited.

(Quotations are from Charles Montague Cooke 1849-1909 by Clarence H. Cooke, 1942; and Cooke Foundation, Limited, 1980 Annual Report.)