Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Former resident Cook dies in Valdez at 66


Barbee Cook

Former resident Barbee Nan Cook, 66, died Oct. 25 in Valdez.

"She had a great, big heart. She met few people she didn't like, and her kindness would overwhelm you," said Linda Geise of Haines, her friend for 35 years.

Barbee Cook went by Chaffin when she lived in Haines from 1970 until the mid-1980s. She worked as a part-time cook and waitress at the former Sally's Café, and as a police dispatcher. "She did a lot of knitting and crocheting, and was very involved with her sons, a real family person," Geise said.

Cook also painted pictures so realistic "they looked like photographs" for her own pleasure and for family and friends. "Unfortunately, she stored them under her house, and when she moved discovered they had gotten moldy, so she lost most of them," Geise said.

After her marriage ended, Cook moved to Juneau where she worked as a dispatcher for the Alaska State Troopers and later for the Department of Motor Vehicles as a clerk. She retired from the state and worked in the bus parts department of Princess Cruises. "She'd take orders from the drivers on what they needed repaired or replaced. She loved working in the tourism industry," Geise said. Cook retired from Princess last year when she turned 65.                          

Barbee Cook was born in Missoula, Mont., on Oct. 16, 1947, to George and Opal Cook. She attended several schools in Montana and Oregon during travels with her logging family. She was married to logger and equipment operator Allen Ray Chaffin Sr. for 17 years and they had two sons. She also helped raise a grandson and granddaughter.

She leaves sons Allen Ray Chaffin Jr., wife Lori and their son Johnathan, of Valdez; and Garred Lee Chaffin and his daughter Samantha, along with many nieces and nephews. Her parents, four brothers, and two sisters preceded Barbee Cook in death.            

Family and friends will come to spread her ashes on a Chilkat Inlet beach in the spring, as her home had overlooked it. "She lovingly called it, 'The Pink House' and said her time there was one of the happiest of her life," said son Allen. "The front was all windows and she could see from Pyramid Island all the way up the river. She loved the view."                                    

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Children's Diabetic Association. Cards may be mailed to Allen and Lori Chaffin, P.O. Box 1111, Valdez, AK 99686.