Henry “Hank” Bookout
“Hank” Bookout died peacefully at the age of 72 years old, on Wednesday, May 20, 2009, after suffering a stroke in 2005 and Dementia for several years. He was a long term resident of Santa Barbara, prior to moving to a care facility in Goleta in July, 2005.
Hank was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee on November 17, 1936, and was the consummate Southern gentleman throughout his life. His subtle Southern accent, dry wit, impeccable manners and gracious hospitality made it always a pleasure to be in his company. Even in his last years, Hank could deftly charm the women in his world with a wink and a smile.
Hank, the youngest of three children born to James and Idaline Bookout, spent his youth in Tennessee. After high school, he joined the Navy, and was sent to jet fighter school in Pensacola, Florida. Ultimately he became an air traffic controller on an aircraft carrier during the conflict between the US and Lebanon. After discharge from the Navy, Hank used his GI Bill and entered college at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he studied mathematics and physics. He excelled both academically and socially, and was elected president of his fraternity, Phi Kappa Alpha.
Prior to graduation, Hank was involved in a terrible automobile accident that caused him severe physical and emotional injury. After emerging from a 5-week-long coma, and enduring a lengthy period of recuperation and therapies, he made the decision to hit the road and travel across the U.S., experiencing as much of life as he possibly could. It was during the 1980’s that Hank came to Santa Barbara, a place he would ultimately make his permanent home.
Putting his mathematical genius to use during the decades that he traveled and lived in his motor home, Hank made his living primarily playing poker, making bets and shooting pool. After arriving in Santa Barbara, he made many friends, and became part of a wonderfully eclectic community of unique individuals He offered his friends good old- fashioned hospitality, loyal friendship, and captivating tales of his very colorful life.
Hank will be remembered by those who knew him as a real character. He could quote verses of Shakespeare from memory, create magnificent wood carvings with his trusty pocket knife, and hold even the most “attention deficit” audience with his tales of high adventure. He was predeceased by his parents James and Idaline Bookout. His brother Jack Bookout of Jacksonville Beach Florida, and his sister Barbara Jean Baker and her family of Duluth, Georgia survive him.
Hank has been cremated and his ashes will be scattered at sea, across from the old Ice House on Cabrillo Blvd., which was home to him in the 1980’s. In keeping with Hank’s Christian beliefs, a short service will be held at the time of the scattering. In addition, a commemorative tree will be dedicated in Hank’s memory in Santa Barbara along Cabrillo Blvd.
Funeral arrangements by McDermott-Crockett Mortuary.