Making Connections – John Rooke ’88

For John Rooke, life is about making connections. A native of Portola Valley, John attended St. Francis High School in Mountain View, CA, where he cultivated his love of soccer. It was through the game of soccer that John met Dr. Carlos López, President Emeritus of Menlo College. Señor López recognized John's potential when John was working as a coach at a summer youth soccer camp. Before the summer was over, John was on his way to Menlo with a scholarship in hand.

While at Menlo, John majored in Mass Communication with an emphasis in sales and marketing. Although John preferred the position of goalkeeper, he found himself playing a field position until 1981 when All American David Mann left Menlo. John enjoyed participating in soccer at Menlo. It provided him with an opportunity to enjoy a lifelong passion, be part of a team, and contribute to the College. On the field and off, John was closely mentored by Señor López (1932—2009).

John maintained a lifelong connection with Señor López and his family. In 2009, John and a team of alumni organized the 1st Annual Señor Carlos López Memorial Soccer Tournament at Menlo. Over 100 alumni, family and friends of the López family came to Menlo to play a match and raise a glass in tribute to Señor López. The 2nd Annual López Soccer Tournament is scheduled for Saturday, September 18, 2010 at noon on Wunderlich Field.

From 1980 to 1986 while at Menlo, John established a core nucleus of friends who remain his best friends today. In 2002, those friends demonstrated their deep connection to John by travelling from all over the world to attend his 40th birthday party, organized by the Rooke family. Over 200 of John's loved ones—many of them Menlo connections who travelled from Europe, Canada and across the country—packed into the garage of his family's home. John's sister Ann handed him the garage door opener, and John was greeted with the warmest birthday wishes and memories to last a lifetime.

One of the surprise birthday party guests was Kathy Coffey, a former girlfriend John dated while at Menlo. They reconnected at this party and in 2005, John and Kathy were married. Today, they are the proud parents of Dee Dee (6) and Keely (4). John's wife and daughters were on hand to cheer him on as he played goalkeeper at the 1st Annual López Soccer Tournament. Not surprisingly, John says “Outside of my marriage and kids, my greatest memories are Menlo memories. And a lot of those took place on the soccer field.”

John also credits Menlo College journalism professor Bob Stiles as well as Charles Warner, Director of the Mass Communication Program as being two key people involved in his personal and professional development. Of Bob, John recalls, “He was an idealist and a perfectionist who required the best of himself and those around him.” Charles Warner refused to award John's degree until he mastered the requisite calculus skills, and mentored him until he succeeded. In 1988, John received his B.A. in Mass Communication in front of his very proud parents, Linda and Jim.

In December 1986, John joined his father Jim in the family business, Rooke & Associates, which he parlayed into a partnership at San Francisco Reps, a food service equipment manufacturer serving equipment consultants, restaurant equipment dealers, and end users. John enjoys his job a great deal, especially all the contact he gets to have with people on a daily basis.

Although John is pleased with his academic achievements at Menlo, he values his connections more. “The piece of paper is very important but it doesn't guarantee your success,” John explains. “Life,” he says, “is who you are surrounded by.” Judging from his 40th birthday party, John epitomizes the very definition of success that he embraces and he will always be surrounded with family and lifelong friends.