40 Chapters
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17. The Future

Bob Hammel Indiana University Press ePub

17

The Future

We have a good generation of leaders. When those people—Steve Ferguson, Kem Hawkins, Scott Eells, Brian Bates—when people like that start to retire, who’s going to step in for them? I’m sure it will work out, but where are they going to come from? Who are they? Are they already here? That’s what you always worry about. You know that in ten or fifteen years you’re going to have a lot of different people in those very top roles. Are they going to be as good or better than what we have now? Because you’ve got to have that.

—Carl Cook

There will be no surprises in passage of the vast Cook Inc. company on Bill Cook’s death. That was one of the things taken care of after cardiologist Larry Rink’s 1998 advisory to him to “get your affairs in order”—after Rink went to London in response to Cook’s New Year’s Eve heart attack, brought him back to Bloomington for tests, and studied the test results.

“We didn’t know much of anything then about inheritance laws,” Bill Cook said, “but, being in the financial situation we are, we worked harder and faster to get our estate in order.

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18. Power and Opportunity

Bob Hammel Indiana University Press ePub

18

Power and Opportunity

I never really worked for money. I worked to exist. I have never particularly enjoyed things that money brings, but I do enjoy the power that money can bring. And if you do have power, you should exercise it as best you can.

—Bill Cook

When power and money are paired in a sentence, the instant mental picture is ugly. Sinister. Power unrestrained by intimidated, winking, bought-off law. But money that is big enough also brings a power to do in an instant what others with similar ideals but ordinary means can only wish. Good things.

In August 2006, Indiana State Trooper Gary Dudley and Deputy Chief Gary Martin of the Lake County Sheriff’s Department were giving up their off-duty time to ride with seven other active and retired police officers in a thirteen-day, 1,000-mile cross-state fund-raising bicycle ride for the Indiana chapter of COPS—Concerns of Police Survivors.

At just about noon, on State Road 63 paralleling the Wabash River just inside the state’s western border with Illinois, a freight truck rear-ended the riders’ support van—despite the van’s huge banner and flashing amber lights warning of the cyclists’ presence and low traveling speed. The van lurched forward into the pack of cyclists, and Dudley and Martin were struck and killed.

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3. A Wide Gold Band

Bob Hammel Indiana University Press ePub

3

A Wide Gold Band

Bill Cook came out of graduation ceremonies at Canton High School in 1949 sure that he was going to go to college but not at all sure where. Maybe Illinois, maybe Northwestern. Maybe he would go out for football, wherever it was, hoping to earn a scholarship. And maybe he wouldn’t. Probably, almost surely, he would major in some premed field, aiming for medical school and a career as a doctor. Of such are billion dollar business careers forged.

A Champaign Start

Bill’s college career had started early with those summer classes at the University of Illinois in Champaign. “I was planning to be a football player.” He took four hours of German and four of English, and worked with other University of Illinois football candidates in daily conditioning drills during summer heat. The football didn’t include much acquaintance with a football—“a lot of running, and working in rubber suits, that was about it.” He went into it with no more than a vague promise, what he called “the typical thing coaches do today: ‘Come to the University of Illinois and maybe you’ll be a football player.’” By the end of the summer, he had been told that if he practiced for a year with the freshmen (who were ineligible for varsity play in major colleges then), he would have a scholarship.

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3. Old Centrum, 2011

Bob Hammel Indiana University Press ePub

Three

Previous page. A downtown Indianapolis landmark. “Old Centrum” church in transition to new.

“Bill got to see the stained glass, the sun was bright, the organ played—everything was just gorgeous. I remember Bill turned to Gayle and said, ‘This was worth it!’”

—Marsh Davis

Maybe none of Bill Cook’s restoration projects brought more of his particular interests into play than the route to recovery for the beautiful Old Centrum Church on Indianapolis’s historic near north side.

Here was a place of architectural distinction with a history that warranted preservation, a sort of after-life of its own. It even has a dome. The building aged, yes, but kept its grandeur. To test its continued acoustical excellence, brass instruments blared. And, once its elegance was restored, it was ready to serve a valuable function.

Of course Bill and Gayle Cook jumped at the chance to rejuvenate the place and send it off into a new century with nobility of look and purpose.

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19. Rising Stars

Bob Hammel Indiana University Press ePub

19

Rising Stars

A 20-Year, $28 Million Investment in Kids

The first time Carl spent a summer in drum corps I recognized that it was more than a musical program. That’s why I got started in drum corps. He came back totally different—more disciplined, more fit, more thoughtful, more respectful. It changed his life, and it has done the same thing to every person I’ve seen—made them a better person. That opened my eyes that you can alter an environment slightly and get a completely different and better result. That’s what I kept seeing in almost everyone who was a part of Star of Indiana. It favorably altered people’s attitudes, completely changed people’s lives.

—Bill Cook

That’s the concise Bill Cook explanation of his link to a pastime that for nearly a decade quite happily consumed him and in many ways defined him. Because of what he saw in his own son after his first summer of marching in drum corps, and what he continued to see throughout nine years as an underwriter, Cook considers the $28 million it cost him and Gayle a worthwhile investment in young people. The period also had a dramatic impact on the drum corps world, which never had a champion quite like the Bill Cook creation, Star of Indiana.

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