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COOK--Hon. Rodney Mims, A seventh generation Georgian who served for over twenty years in Atlanta and Georgia government, died January 13th at his family's home, Alexandra Park. He was 88. Cook was born to James and Bess Mims Cook. His maternal family has impacted Georgia history for two centuries. Azariah Mims, Cook's great-grandfather exerted controversial, exemplary efforts to bring peace to the South; all recorded in the Library of Congress. Despite this, his Red Oak Farm was destroyed by General Sherman during the Siege of Atlanta. Ancestor Mayor Livingston Mims donated the Olmsted designed Mims Park in the late 19th century, which no longer exists. Cook called for its reconstruction, now underway and supported by Mayor Kasim Reed. Cook graduated Washington and Lee University valedictorian, Phi Beta Kappa, and summa cum laude. College was interrupted by World War II, and Cook became a Lieutenant in the United States Navy. He served on the USS DuPage (APA-41), hit by a kamikaze plane, though he was uninjured. Cook witnessed the surrender of Japan in Tokyo Bay on the USS Missouri. Cook was among the first Republican officials elected in Georgia since Reconstruction. Mayor William B. Hartsfield advised he serve at-large as an Atlanta Alderman and member of the House of Representatives simultaneously to foster Atlanta's growth. A law now prohibits dual offices being held. His Atlanta legislation pertained to civil rights, zoning, urban renewal, Atlanta Airport, Interstate Highways, Underground Atlanta and the Stadium Authority housing the Braves and Falcons Georgia committees included Appropriations, Ways and Means, Industry and Computerized Criminal Records. He became Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party and was the GOP nominee for Governor of Georgia in 1978. Commemorative plaques on various public buildings including Hartsfield-Jackson International airport record his efforts. In 1962, he delivered a speech on the floor of the Atlanta Board of Alderman to take down "Peyton Wall," a barrier that was built to stop black citizens from moving into a white section of Atlanta. Called the "Berlin Wall" by the black community, Cook's speech stated that Americans were not a people who wall themselves apart from their fellow citizens. His speech incited the Ku Klux Klan to burn a cross on the lawn of his home in Buckhead. Cook was one of few Representatives who voted to seat the legally elected Julian Bond to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1966. The House refused to seat Bond due to his anti-Vietnam War positions. The Supreme Court returned him to his rightful office. Bomb threats against Cook's home and threats of kidnapping his children were the result. Cook was mentored by Martin Luther King, Sr., Mayors Hartsfield and Allen, nurturing peaceful race relations and shepherding federal and state funding to the city resulting in unprecedented growth during the 1960s and 1970s, Hartsfield making the notable remark that Atlanta was the "city too busy to hate." Cook then championed the careers of Paul Coverdell and Newt Gingrich, later a United States Senator and Speaker of the House of Representatives respectively. Close advisors to Cook, Speaker Gingrich noted this in a speech he made on C-SPAN decades later. Rodney Mims Cook, Jr. shared that his father's college friendship with Virginia Senator John Warner, resulted in an unusual paternal friendship. When Cook Sr. was head of the GOP, "he had a fund- raiser at the Fox Theatre and invited Warner, who at the time, was married to Elizabeth Taylor. She filled the 5000 seat theater, was a great sport, and they remained friends." Cook Jr. stressed that his father's greatest contribution to Atlanta and Georgia was keeping the peace: "There were a number in his generation, black and white who quietly were the stewards of the South during the second half of the 20th century and they met in our home. Other cities were burning, turning hoses or dogs on their citizens. This intentionally did not happen here and Dad and his generation rose to the occasion to solidify and herald the Atlanta Way to the entire nation." Cook's business career began with Holcombe Green at the Guardian Insurance Company, the main office being based on Park Avenue at Union Square in New York. He was President of the Guardian Leaders Field Force, Presidents Council, and a life member of the Million Dollar Roundtable. He expanded with Robert Mathis, founding Peachtree Planning Corporation, the eleventh largest financial planning firm in Georgia. Cook served as President of the alumni board at Washington and Lee University, commissioning a bust of Justice Lewis Powell for the lobby of Powell's Supreme Court archives at W&L Law School. He was also a patron of Colonial Williamsburg, The Atlanta Humane Society, of which he was President and the Millennium Gate Museum, where he reconstructed the 18th century Mims-Midway period room. Midway was the home of Lyman Hall, a Georgia signer of the Declaration of Independence. Cook was a patron of the Prince of Wales Monument to the 1996 Olympic Games, the Buckhead/Midtown Gates, dedicated to his mother, and the 5-ton Peace and Justice Gates. Cook and Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue drove a team of horses delivering the five ton bronzes to their site. He was a member of Piedmont Driving Club, High Hampton Golf Club, North Carolina and Wachesaw Plantation Golf Club, South Carolina. The papers of The Honorable Rodney Mims Cook are housed at the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia Libraries. Following a Morning Order in the House of Representatives Chamber and lying in state in Atlanta City Hall, Cook will be buried at Westview Abbey Mausoleum, on January 19, 2013, in the Mims family vault. Cook's marriage to Lane Young occurred at the chapel at Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, on Thanksgiving Day, 2003. He is survived by his wife; two daughters, Jody and Laura Cook; a son, Rodney Mims Cook, Jr., and three grandchildren, English and Alexandra Mims Cook and Walker Mims Marshall, all of Atlanta. Online condolences may be made at:

Published in The New York Times on Jan. 18, 2013
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