The Rev. Dr. Charles William Cook, 81, of Nokomis, Fla., and Tallahassee, Fla., formerly of West Virginia and Indiana, died Friday, March 14, 2014.
The Rev. Cook was born May 2, 1932, in Amherstdale, W.V., to Arnold and Beatrice Cook. He is survived by his two brothers, Ronald “Pistol” Cook (Mary Kay) and James “Bus” Cook (Jeanine); his sister, Patricia (Patty) Hollier (Royce); his three children, Victoria Cook Ash (Steven) of Tallahassee, Fla., Charles W. Cook III of St. Augustine, Fla., and James E. Cook (Debra) of Winchester, Tenn.; five grandchildren, Matthew, Kasey, Ashley, Nathan and Chase; and two great-grandchildren, Tess and Phoebe.
Charlie, known as Bill from childhood through early adulthood, was raised in West Virginia and was no stranger to hard work and leadership from a young age. The eldest of six children, he helped the family by cutting and selling kindling wood to neighbors, salvaging sacks of coal from slate dumps and selling them, carrying water from creeks for neighbors on “wash day” and delivering newspapers door to door.
He joined the Boy Scouts at age 12 and reached Eagle Scout status when he was 14, the youngest Eagle Scout in West Virginia at the time. Charlie attended Man High School in Man, W.V., where he was Senior Class president and a member of the National Honor Society, played varsity football and basketball, won awards for drama and citizenship, represented his school at Boys State and graduated in 1950.
During the summers of 1950 and 1951, Charlie worked in the coal mines to earn money for college, and he entered West Virginia Wesleyan College in the fall of 1950, where he played first-string defensive half-back on the football team during his freshman year. He then transferred to Marshall University, Huntington, W.V., where in June 1951, he married his high school sweetheart, Leona “Lee” Cline, to whom he was married for 59 years until her death in August 2010.
Charlie graduated in 1954 with a bachelor of arts degree, later receiving a master of divinity degree from Garrett Theological Seminary at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. Because of his lifelong love of learning and the constant desire to improve himself, he pursued and earned his doctor of ministry degree from Drew University in New Jersey in 1980.
While attending seminary in Evanston, Ill., Charlie served as a student pastor, and during these years he and Lee had their three children. He would go on to serve the Methodist (later United Methodist) Church for half a century, and pastored churches in Huntington, W.V., as well as Montezuma, Kewanna, Oxford, Lakeville, South Bend, Kokomo and LaPorte in Indiana, becoming superintendent of the conference’s Muncie district in 1982.
Following his term as a superintendent, for one final time he did what he loved most, serving a church and ministering to a congregation (Auburn, Ind.). Charlie served on many committees and boards within the conference and dedicated much of his time and effort to missions programs.
Above all, Charles William Cook loved to “tell the story of unseen things above.” Throughout his career as a minister, he demonstrated a genuine kindness and love for people, evidenced by how much he himself was loved and admired by members of his congregations, his friends and family and the many people in need to whom he reached out with compassion, generosity, and grace. His love radiated in all of his interactions, from counseling church members to chatting with friends at the golf course, and he listened to others with deep and genuine concern.
He was devoted to his children and madly in love with his wife, Lee. While he will be dearly missed by his family and all who knew him, great joy is found in remembering his abundant life, the many lives he impacted and knowledge that he is at peace rejoicing with his Lord.
Services: Services celebrating the Rev. Cook’s life will be held Friday, May 2, at Christ United Methodist Church, Venice, Fla., including visitation from 10:30 to 11 a.m., followed by a service at 11 a.m. Bevis Funeral Home is assisting the family with his arrangements.. Visit: BevisFH.com.
Contributions: In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Christ United Methodist Church, 1475 Center Road, Venice FL 34292-3815, and will be designated for missions programs.