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Robert Cook

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Robert Cook Obituary
Robert Parker Cook - pioneering resident & volunteer in Weston, devoted family man, decorated World War II combat veteran, Liberty Mutual counsel, athlete, musician and artist Robert Parker Cook, 86, died peacefully in the loving presence of his family June 12, 2011, at the Veterans Administration Hospital, Brockton, Massachusetts, following a period of failing health and complications of congestive heart failure and pneumonia. Born on April 7, 1925 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, youngest son of Ward Hance Cook, a physician, and Martha (Stough) Cook, a teacher, he grew up in Kansas and Yonkers, New York. As a boy, he was encouraged to develop a love of nature hobbies | the favorites of which were the study of wasps, turtles and astronomy. He often ate a meal in his parents home, surrounded in the dining room by his roaming domesticated terrapins, spending other time working on his wasp collections. He leashed stingless male wasps and showed them off at school. He became an Eagle Scout in his teen years. He entered higher education at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, from which he was drafted in 1943. He completed Infantry Basic Training at Ft. Benning, Georgia, and was assigned to the U. S. Armys 100th Division. Entering the European combat zone via Marseille, he saw much ground action in southeastern France and Germany, during one of the worse European winters in a century. The 100th Division pursued retreating Nazi troops, in brutal winter weather, enduring heavy artillery and hand-to-hand combat, until VE Day, 1945. In action, Robert distinguished himself by taking many prisoners, and received a Purple Heart for a wound received in action. At extreme personal risk, he saved other soldiers lives, and was written up as a candidate to receive the Bronze Star; however, due to lost paperwork and the misfortunes of war, the medal was never given. Upon demobilization, he returned in 1945 to his home town, Yonkers, New York, to continue his family life and college education. He graduated from Hamilton College, Clinton NY, in 1949. The same year, he married Kristin (Gustavsen) Cook with whom he shared a happy fifty-year marriage until her death from cancer in 2000. Under the then-new GI Bill, he applied for and received a graduate education in law at Harvard Law School. The couple lived for a short period in Newtonville, Massachusetts, then purchased land in Weston, Mass., to homestead in 1953. While living in Weston, he worked for Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. as a trial lawyer. He was later advanced to Liberty Mutuals home office, where he provided risk assessment and other internal legal services as a corporate counsel. He finished his active work life by retiring in 1990 after working more than three decades at Liberty Mutual. He was a gifted public speaker, having been trained since the age of six to give thoughtful and well-reasoned presentations to his class and other groups. In his home life, he enjoyed building and developing his home in Weston, much of which he built or finished himself, including rock walls. At home, even into his eighties, he enjoyed personally landscaping his property, and planted and moved many trees and shrubs. He was often seen by neighbors working among his beloved evergreens, and was very proud of Westons designation as a Tree City USA. He had considerable artistic skill, and enjoyed painting and playing the piano. He was an active volunteer for the good of the community, serving as chairman of the Weston, Mass. Zoning Board of Appeals for over 40 years. Robert was a remarkable individual, believing strongly in marriage based on mutual trust and respect, family life and the ideals of personal excellence, fitness, the value of the arts, and service to others. His role as a lawyer meant that he was to help settle disputes in the manner of a peacemaker. Robert received much respect from his fellow board members and citizens who brought cases before the Zoning Board of Appeals | his personal style was fair, impartial and extremely careful in reaching effective and workable conclusions for cases before the Board. For many years, Robert served voluntarily as a senior lawyer-judge at the Student Advisory Councils Ames Moot Court at Harvard Law School. He relished the opportunity to contribute to the development of these young professionals, and was especially proud of the advancements at Harvard since it began admitting women students in the early 1950s. He used to say, In 1950 women werent even admitted to Harvard; now a woman can serve as dean. Thats progress! Believing strongly in the power of moral behavior, he studied, applied and taught the use of ethics in daily life. Robert became a founding member of the Wightman Tennis Center, Weston MA, in 1967, and served one term as its president. He avidly pursued his own physical fitness, starting out as a paper delivery boy, and later as a trackman in college. His adult interests led him into skiing and swimming, and he became so enthusiastic about his daily swim that he often taught others the seven benefits of immersion. Upon his retirement from Liberty Mutual in 1990, Bob traveled with his wife Kris and family, and enjoyed skiing major slopes in North America, which activity he continued until 2000. In 2009, he married Jeanette (Commons) Cook, with whom he enjoyed a quiet and happy domestic life. Roberts father Ward Hance Cook and brother Hale Henry Cook were both physicians. Upon his death, in the spirit of continuous giving, Robert donated his body as an anatomical gift to Harvard Medical School. Those wishing to make donations in his honor, in lieu of flowers, are encouraged to consider instead a gift of their choosing to the Harvard or any other medical school. Robert was a much-beloved husband and father. He leaves a wife, Jeanette (Commons) Cook, 55, of Weston; a daughter, Cynthia Kristin (Cook) Roeber, 55, and her husband Frederick John Roeber, 55, of Portsmouth RI; and several nieces and nephews. Robert was preceded in death by his parents, and siblings, who were: brothers Hale Henry Cook, 1918-1982; John Norman Jack Cook, 1919-1931; sisters Marjorie Helen (Cook) Jensen, 1920-2009; and Joyce Aurelia (Cook) Bertelsen Wilson (formerly prominent in Wayland, Mass.), 1923-2007. A Memorial Gathering will be held for Robert at George F. Doherty & Sons Funeral Home, 477 Washington Street, Wellesley Mass., Saturday, July 9, 2011 from 5-8 p.m. A military funeral will be held in future. Correspondence may be sent to Mrs. Jeanette Cook, P. O. Box 66271, Auburndale MA 02466, or [email protected] For directions and guestbook gfdoherty.com.

Published in The Wayland Town Crier from June 18 to June 25, 2011
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