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Wednesday, 01 November 2017 00:00

A Time to Mourn, a Time to Fly

Written by  Douglas Cooke
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On Friday, October 6th, Clif Cooke, founder of JAX FAX and lifelong aviation buff, boarded his final flight to the great beyond. He was 86 years old. For 56 of those years, he was my Dad. During those 56 years, I had the privilege of working with him for 25. To say he was my inspiration and mentor would be an understatement. He shaped my life through childhood and into my adult years. I am proud that he was my Dad. He was an honest, intelligent and hard working man who genuinely cared about his friends and customers in the travel industry, where he worked from 1952 until his retirement in 2002.

Clif was born in Beverly, MA in 1930. From a young age, he loved airplanes and aviation. At the age of seven he was writing to airlines to obtain their schedules under the name Cooke Travel Service. During WWII, in his teens, he was an aircraft spotter for civil defense. After 4 years at Duke University he spent 2 years in the Navy serving on what aircraft carrier, of course. His first post-Navy job was at Pan Am Airways, where he spent 11 years. He loved Pan Am and remained a member of the Pan Am Historical Society until his death. He also worked at TWA for 7 years before starting his own company.

    Jet Airtransport Exchange Inc d/b/a JAX FAX Travel Marketing In 1972, the airline industry was still regulated and charters were the only means of offering the public discounted flights. Clif saw the need for travel agents to have a consolidated source of this charter information and Jet Air Transport (JAX) was born. JAX was initially a database of charter flights maintained on an IBM mainframe with offices in CT and London, UK. Within a year, travel agents started asking if a printout of these charters was available, and the first JAX FAX Travel Marketing Magazine hit travel agency desks in 1973. JAX was the acronym for the company, and FAX was a play on the word “facts,” since what was being printed were facts about charter flights. The magazine continued to grow over the years, changing with the times, and evolving into the magazine it is today, Destinations by JAX FAX. Charter listings are long gone, replaced by Air Consolidator listings and information about worldwide destinations and the suppliers that serve them. The magazine is still family-owned, and remains what Clif called the Travel Agents Trusted Source of Travel Intelligence.
Clif left behind his beloved wife Lyn of 62 years; me and my wife Marjorie, and our 3 adult children, Chris, Allee and Connor; my sister Jenney and her husband Ross, and their kids Clifton and Jaxie. (I guess Jenney figured that since I worked with Dad she had to do something to stay in the race. A nice tribute to my Dad and the company he loved, all the same.)

Clif was laid to rest in his family’s plot in his hometown of Danvers, MA. A memorial service is being planned for Saturday, January 6, 2018 in his adopted hometown of Walpole, NH. Details to follow. I have received many wonderful notes and condolences from Clif’s friends in the travel industry, for which our family is very grateful. Terms like “Industry Icon” have been used, but in truth, my Dad was a humble man who simply had a passion for travel, the travel industry, and the many people in it he counted as friends and colleagues.

Up, up and away will forever be greatly missed


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