Betty Cooksey

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BETTY Cooksey, who has died aged 88, was associated with her local school near Wakefield as a pupil and teacher for over 60 years.

Generations of children, some now in their late 60s and early 70s, were eased through the transition from home to school by her comforting presence at Havercroft Infants School – later Havercroft Primary,

With two younger brothers, Mrs Cooksey was the daughter of John and Jane Schofield, their father having served in the 8th Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment – The Leeds Rifles – in the latter part of World War One, and then in Cologne in the British Army of Occupation.

He married Jane, a widow who had had a shop in Ryhill, on his return.

He then worked as a miner in local pits, eventually becoming a councillor on the old Hemsworth Urban District Council in middle age.

When Havercroft Infants School opened in 1928, Mrs Cooksey was among the first intake of pupils, moving on to Felkirk Secondary Modern School.

In 1942 she returned to Havercroft School as an untrained teaching assistant and then, after her marriage to Clifton Cooksey in 1946, studied to become a professional nursery nurse, travelling daily on three buses to Guiseley, on the other side of Leeds, to gain her diploma, awarded by the old West Riding County Council in January 1948.

Now qualified, she remained at Havercroft School – only taking time off to raise her three children – until her retirement in July 1989.

An attempt to inveigle her away by Cudworth Pontefract Road Infants School in April 1958 had been politely resisted.

Always curious and willing to learn new skills, she took up art classes after the death of her husband in 1989.

It was a difficult period for her. She retired, aged 65, shortly after his death – they had been looking forward to doing things together – and in rapid succession she lost his company and that of the children whom she so enjoyed teaching. Feeling doubly bereft, she immersed herself in painting, and enjoyed watercolours especially. She liked to paint landscapes and still life.

Mrs Cooksey is survived by her daughter Pat, sons Stephen and Jon, five grandchildren and four great grandchildren.