Col. David R. Cooksey, retired from the U.S. Air Force (USAF), died May 14 from complications following a routine surgical procedure. Before it was sold to Northwest Exterminating, a Rollins company, in January, Cooksey was CFO of McCall Service. The Jacksonville, Fla.-based firm was purchased in the 1950s by his father, J. Bryan Cooksey Jr., and today is still led by third-generation members of the Cooksey family. He and his brothers Bryan and John are still considered brand ambassadors for the company.
Cooksey was the current vice president of the Florida Pest Management Association, and would have assumed the role of President in January 2023. He also taught a class on family business at the University of North Florida, Jacksonville, and was active in his local Rotary Club.
Retired from McCall, he, his wife and children were “actively developing a business plan, trademark and land acquisition for a dog park and beer garden. The family is exploring how to move forward and open ‘Bubba’s Barkin’ Barley,'” per his obituary. The name comes from one of his two beloved dogs, Bubba and Otis.
Per the obituary, Cooksey joined the USAF in July 1985:
He graduated from the Academy May 31, 1989, with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Government. As a Second Lieutenant, he was an Intelligence and Communications Officer at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina. David was part of the initial cadre of forces that deployed to Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm to repel the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. While deployed, David prepared the infrastructure to support the deployment of over 500,000 troops to the region. Dave was vital to the detection and warning of incoming missile attacks on troops, and providing the intelligence to support the location and destruction of Iraqi missile launchers. David also served in Operation Enduring Freedom and spent significant time in Combined Joint Operations in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan and Djibouti. In 1995, after completing his MBA at the University of South Carolina, Dave separated from the USAF to work at McCall Service…
As a direct result of the tragic events that occurred on September 11, 2001, Dave felt again called to the military and he joined the USAF Reserve as an aircraft maintenance officer. The flexibility of the Reserves allowed David to continue working at McCall Service, while dedicating time to also be in the Air Force. Initially assigned to Charleston Air Force Base, Dave ultimately was the Operations Officer for the organization, and was responsible for ensuring the base’s aircraft were fully operational, safe and ready to fly. In 2010, David transferred to Patrick AFB in Florida, where he rose through the ranks to become the base’s Deputy Group Commander. Dave was promoted to Colonel, and led the deployment of his unit to Djibouti. In Djibouti they were responsible for counterterrorism missions against Isis and Boko Haram terrorists. After an extremely distinguished career in the service of his country, Dave retired from the reserves in 2017.
Among the family he leaves behind are his wife of 28 years, Nicole; their children, Beau, Jon, Luke and Kelly; his mother, Jane; and his siblings Beverly Mulholland (Sean), J. Bryan Cooksey III (Teresa), Cathy Patton (Pat) and John Cooksey (Leyda). Per the obituary:
A memorial service and celebration of life is scheduled for Saturday, May 22, at 4 p.m. Eastern. It will be held at the Bayside community dock in Switzerland, Fla. The address to the dock is 951 Bayside Bluff Road, Jacksonville, Fla., and parking directions will be provided upon arrival. The event is open to all friends, family and acquaintances of Dave and the family. Appropriate dress for the event is “Bayside dock and boating casual.” Food and drinks will be served after the ceremony. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made to the “Bayside Wounded Warrior Fund.” Nicole, Beau, Jon, Luke and Kelly intend to use contributions to this account to address education and other support needs of military spouses and families that find themselves grieving the loss of a service member. The family will select and make awards aligned with what they know Dave would have done. Donations should be made payable to the Bayside Wounded Warrior Fund LLC, and sent to: Attn: Andrew Wilfong, 1048 Anchor Road, St. Johns, FL 32259.
The Pest Management Professional magazine staff sends its deepest sympathies to Cooksey’s family, friends and colleagues.