Funeral for John Robert Cook, age 84, of Decatur, Alabama, will be Wednesday, March 4, 2009, at 1 p.m. at First Bible Church of Decatur, 3202 Spring Avenue SW, with Dr. Steve Bateman officiating and Roselawn Funeral Home directing. Burial will be in Roselawn Gardens of Memory, 741 Danville Road SW, Decatur, AL 35601. The family will receive visitors Tuesday, March 3, 2009, at First Bible Church from 4 to 7 p.m.
Mr. Cook, philanthropist, nationally acclaimed businessman, and owner of Cook’s Pest Control, died Friday, February 27, 2009, at his home of pancreatic cancer.
Mr. Cook’s desire throughout his adult life was to serve the Lord Jesus Christ and to share his Savior’s love with others. He carried out that passion faithfully, even during months of treatment for pancreatic cancer.
Born January 21, 1925, in Athens, Alabama, he was the only child of John L. and Leona Cook. The family moved to Decatur in 1927.
After graduating in 1943 from Riverside High School in Decatur, Mr. Cook enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served during World War II in Atlanta, Georgia, and the South Pacific until discharged in 1946.
On July 12, 1946, he married the love of his life, Eleanor Elizabeth “Jo” Mitcham.
Mr. Cook studied architecture at Georgia Tech, graduating in 1950. That same year, after the death of his father, he gave up his dream of a career in architecture and returned to Decatur to fulfill termite guarantees for the family business, North Alabama Termite Company, later renamed Cook’s Pest Control. Under his leadership, Cook’s grew from one full-time employee and only a few accounts to become the seventh largest pest control company in the United States.
Though always humble regarding his business success, Mr. Cook was the recipient of countless accolades and honors.
His civic involvement included extensive work with the Decatur Jaycees. In 1959, he was named Jaycees’ Young Man of the Year, and in 1961, was one of four men named Outstanding Young Man in Alabama. Mr. Cook served on the following boards: Morgan County Industrial, Central Bank, Regions Bank, Decatur General Hospital Foundation, Calhoun College Foundation, Edwin Hodges Ministries, and Chamber of Commerce Beautification. In 1988, the Chamber honored Mr. Cook by naming him Small Business Person of the Year.
Mr. Cook served terms as president of the Alabama Pest Control Association and the National Pest Control Association. In 2001, the national association presented him with the President’s Pinnacle Award. That year, Cook’s Pest Control won the Better Business Bureaus’ National Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics.
Mr. Cook was known throughout the pest management industry for his creative marketing strategies such as the Cookie the Cop mascot and the catchy jingle now synonymous with the company: “Lookie, Lookie, Lookie, Here Comes Cookie!” His architectural training instilled within him an attention to detail that was beneficial in growing a pest control business.
Mr. Cook’s dedication to the community was evidenced through his humanitarianism toward local, national, and international charities and educational institutions. In 1980, he built Cook’s Natural Science Museum as a place to share the wonder of God’s creation with the public. The museum welcomes visitors free of charge seven days a week. When Decatur Heritage Christian Academy was established in 1995, Mr. Cook joined others in freely offering his time and resources in support of academic excellence in Christian education. Globally, he led mission trips to Moldova and Ukraine.
In 1965, with a desire to share their faith, Mr. Cook and his wife, Jo, began hosting a weekly Bible study, from which First Bible Church of Decatur was established. Mr. Cook, a charter member, served as an elder for many years. During the 1970s and 1980s, they were lay staff members with Campus Crusade for Christ and hosted a high school ministry in their home.
In 2008, Mr. Cook’s life story was recorded in the book, Employee Number 2: The Story of John Cook and Cook’s Pest Control.
Mr. Cook is survived by his wife of 62 years, Eleanor “Jo” Mitcham Cook, son, John Robert Cook Jr. and his wife, Lyn Striplin Cook, and grandson, Brian Christopher Cook, all of Decatur.
He was preceded in death by his parents, John Lewis Cook and Leona Long Cook, and an infant son, James Lewis Cook.
Pallbearers will be Jim Aycock, George White, Joey Harris, Bill Prince, Scott Dubach and Fred Henderson.
Honorary pallbearers will be members of Mr. Cook’s Thursday morning Bible study.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to Decatur Heritage Christian Academy, P.O. Box 5659, Decatur, AL 35601.
This obituary was originally published in the Decatur Daily.
Published in Decatur Daily from Mar. 1 to Mar. 2, 2009.