Sir Howard was born in Goodwill, St. James, on November 13, 1915.
He was the son of David Brown Cooke and Mary Jane Minto. He was educated at elementary and private schools, Mico College and London University.
On July 22, 1939, he married Ivy Sylvia Lucille Tai.
This union produced two sons, Justice Howard Fitz-Arthur Cooke, Puisine Judge, and hotelier Richard Washington McDermott Cooke.
As well as one daughter, Audrey Faith Cooke.
Sir Howard Cooke entered politics in 1938 as one of the founding members of the People’s National Party. He has been chairman and was a member of the Executive and National Executive of the Party.
In 1958 he was elected to the West Indies Federal Parliament, as the representative of St. James.
He entered the Jamaican Parliament in 1962 and served as Senator until 1967. He served as a member of the House of Representatives between 1967 and 1980, and was a Minister of Government between 1972 and 1980.
He was installed as Governor General in August, 1991 and retired in February, 2006.