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Robert E. Cooke

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Robert E. Cooke Obituary

Robert E. Cooke, M.D., of Oak Bluffs, MA, died Sunday, February 2, 2014, at the age of 93. As medical advisor to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, he was an architect of the Great Society program, Head Start, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the NIH, and the Kennedy-Krieger Institute, the world-renowned institution for children with developmental problems at Johns Hopkins University. He was also a medical advisor to the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, served on the Board of the International Special Olympics, and was a member of the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research. Robert earned his B.S. and M.D. at Yale University in 1941 and 1944, respectively, and later served on Yale's faculty from 1950-1956. He served as chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University from 1956-1973 and Pediatrician-in-Chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital from 1956-1963. He was Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, served as the president of the Medical College of Pennsylvania from 1977-1980, and then became the A. Congor Goodyear Professor of Pediatrics at SUNY-Buffalo and Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Children's Hospital in Buffalo from 1981-1988. Robert received the E. Mead Johnson Award from the Society for Pediatric Research in 1954; the Howland and Bartholome Awards, two of the American Pediatric Society's highest accolades in pediatrics and bioethics, in 1991 and 2004, respectively; and honorary degrees from Yale University and the University of Miami. He has been described as a mentor to "a generation of leaders in American pediatrics." Robert became a champion for the disadvantaged when he was faced with raising two profoundly disabled daughters, Robyn and Wendy. This challenge shaped his life's work. He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Sharon Riley Cooke, his children, Christopher and W. Robert (Denise) of Florida, Kim Cooke Himmelfarb of West Hartford, Connecticut, Susan Cooke Anderson (Christopher) and Anne (Daniel Ennis) of Massachusetts, his grandchildren, Katherine and Brittany, his dogs, Vernon, Miles and Rocky, and his nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his daughters Robyn and Wendy, brother, Ronald W. Cooke, M.D, and son-in-law Saul L. Himmelfarb. Donations in Robert Cooke's memory may be sent to: Animal Shelter of Martha's Vineyard, PO Box 1929, Edgartown, MA 02539, memo line: Susie Fund.

Published in The Hartford Courant from Feb. 7 to Feb. 8, 2014
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