Shirley Seward Cockes

Shirley Seward Cockes

Elberon, VA
08.24.1933 - 01.29.2019

Shirley Seward Cockes passed away Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019 at the age of 85. She was predeceased by her parents, Clyde and Virginia Madeline Bennett Seward; sister, Mildred S. Hailey; brother, Melvin C. Seward; husband, E. Dixon Cockes, and two daughters, Debra Carolyn Cockes, and Lisa Jo Cockes Judkins.

Left to cherish her memory are her daughters, Vicki Lynne Cockes Thompson, and Suzanne Leigh Cockes Madigan and her husband, Russ; grandchildren, Ben Maciariello, Tom Maciariello, Cathy Wilson and her husband, Kevin, Daniel Judkins and his wife, Jennifer, Laura Thompson Pittman and her husband, Matt, Aaron Thompson and his wife, Carla, and Amanda Thompson; great-grandchildren, Ryne Wilson, Jack Wilson, Reid Judkins, Walker Judkins, Graycen Pittman, and Tucker Thompson. 

Shirley was born and raised in Petersburg, Virginia, where she completed high school and nurses' training. Her favorite assignment during her short nursing career was the obstetrics unit, where she cared for expectant mothers and their newborns. 

As a teenager, she often visited friends and relatives in Surry County, where she met Dixon Cockes. The two married in 1954, and she left her nursing career to become wife to her Air Force pilot. Assignments took the couple all over the United States and their family grew to include four daughters. The family often went camping; they started with a tent and soon after bought a travel trailer -- the first of several.

The family moved back to Surry County in 1975 upon Dixon's retirement from the Air Force, minus the eldest daughter who married. By 1979, Dixon and Shirley were 'empty-nesters' and hitched up the trailer to begin traveling again -- typically South in the winter and North in the summer. During one of their trips, Dixon passed away unexpectedly and Shirley returned to their home in Elberon, Surry County.

She attended church at Moore's Swamp Baptist Church and became active in the historical societies in Surry and Wakefield. For a period of time, her home was one of the water stops for bicycling groups. She was an avid reader, Jeopardy fan and loved playing Mah-jongg. Although she no longer traveled extensively, she enjoyed visiting with friends in Mathews and on the Eastern Shore. 

She was "a great lady" with a wide circle of friends including long-time Air Force and VMI friends who remained in touch. She sewed countless outfits when her daughters were young and readily shared sewing tips and tricks. Kind and generous, she spent many hours knitting scarves that she donated to cancer patients in the same clinic where she received treatment. 

To celebrate Shirley's life, family and friends are invited to the funeral service at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019 at R.W. Baker & Co. Funeral Home, 11414 General Mahone Highway, Wakefield, VA 23888 with Rev. Ray Rowland officiating. A private burial service will follow. In Lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Surry County VA Historical Society, P.O. Box 262 Surry, VA 23883, ( or to the Peninsula Cancer Institute (Riverside Foundation, 701 Town Center Drive, Newport News, VA 23606, ( . Condolences may be offered online at

Start Time

R.W. Baker & Co. Funeral Home
11414 General Mahone Highway
Wakefield, VA 23888
United States


My deepest sympathies to Suzie and her family.

Kimberly Rand

Please accept our condolences. We will always remember Shirley’s kindness and generosity.

Ann Kaplan and Mike Kornstein

As one of the many bicyclists who benefited from and enjoyed Mrs. Cockes' hospitality over the years, I will miss her warm smile. She was kind and generous to many bicycling strangers, providing us with so much more than water and shade!

Paul Germain
Midlothian, Va.

Paul Germain

I am very sorry to hear of Shirley's death. She was a great lady, and I very much enjoyed visiting with her during our bicycling stops. We talked about our serious illnesses (we both had experienced them), but she was very stoic about this latest bout with cancer, and I wish I'd known how serious it was. I'll miss her very much. I'm sorry that I cannot come to the funeral. Blessings to you -- of comfort and hope from our resurrection faith. Pastor Andy Ballentine St. Stephen Lutheran Church Williamsburg, VA

Andy Ballentine

Shirley was a charter member of the Surry County, VA Historical Society and an extraordinary volunteer. Her work was appreciated, and she will be greatly missed. Our condolences to her family.

Fran Barnes

We were so sorry to hear of your Mother's passing Vicki. All of us here at Multiprint send our sincere condolences to you and your entire family.

Anita Rossano

Shirley and Dixon were great friends of my mother, Helen Lane. They took my mother on a couple of their adventures and showed her the time of her life! Shirley's continued friendship through the years meant the world to my mother. My family will be praying for God's blessings on you all as you grieve your loss.

Mary Stamey

I was so sorry to read in the Richmond newspaper of Shirley's death. I am a first cousin; our mothers were sisters. Just last week I found a picture of her age 8 or 10, and was going to mail it to her.. May God bless each of you in your sorrow Margaret Oliver

Margaret J Oliver

As a WAB cyclist, I enjoyed Shirley's hospitality several seasons. My sincere condolences. Many will miss her and I am sure pleasant memories will return each time I pass her house.

steve boykin

Suzie, extending my deepest condolences to you and the family. Ms. Cockes was a gem. Though we met in her later years, it was a blessing to have experienced her warm smile and sense of humor. Praying that her cherished memories bring you peace and comfort during this difficult time.

N. Green

Shirley was intelligent and very witty. We always enjoyed our conversations with her. She also so sweet and kind. Our condolences on the loss of a lovely woman.

Robert and Jody Jones

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.