DEER CREEK - Gary W. Cook Jr., 37, of Deer Creek, Ill., formerly of Sunnyland, died at 8:11 p.m. Sunday, June 9, 2013, at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria after a courageous five-year battle with sinus cancer.
Gary was born on March 18, 1976, in Peoria, Ill., to Gary W. and Linda S. Ward Cook Sr.
Surviving are his guardian angel of three years and fiancee with whom he shared his life, Shannon Giersch; two children, Dawson Cook, 12, and Sophia Cook, 8, both of Morton, who meant the world to him; mother, Linda S. Klein of Sunnyland; father, Gary W. Cook Sr. (Terri Miller) of Deer Creek; maternal grandparents, Jim and Evelyn Ward of Sunnyland; one sister, Lisa Cook, and three brothers, Dylan Klein, Derek Klein and Cory Cook, all of Sunnyland. Also surviving is a large network of family and friends who have been extremely supportive.
He was preceded in death by his stepfather, Randy Klein, and paternal grandparents.
Gary graduated from Washington Community High School in the Class of 1994.
He worked in the sign manufacturing industry for several years before starting his own company, Cook Fabrications, Signs & Graphics.
He was a member of Elevate Church in Morton.
Following in his dad's footsteps, Gary's racing career started at the age of 14 with many successful seasons, including several track championships. He won the UMP Modified National & Regional Championship in 2009 while battling cancer. Gary and the number "64" became synonymous. He was a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, and also loved NASCAR and riding his Harley with Shannon.
We will be celebrating a race well run starting with a visitation from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, June 13, 2013, at Deiters Funeral Home & Crematory in Washington and concluding with a victory lap around Peoria Speedway at 10 p.m. Fans are welcome to gather in the stands at 9:30 p.m. The family encourages everyone to wear racing or Harley attire. A service celebrating his life will be at 10 a.m. Friday, June 14, 2013, at the funeral home. Pastor Brian Sanders will officiate. Following the service, Gary will take his final Harley ride and the family invites others to join them on their bikes as they travel to Glendale Cemetery in Washington.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to www.caringbridge.org/visit/garycook3 in memory of Gary; or to an education fund for his children, Dawson and Sophia, c/o Heartland Bank.
Gary's memorial website is available at www.deiters-funeralhome.com, where condolences also may be sent to the family.