40 Chapters
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12. Alger-ian Advice, April 9, 2010

Bob Hammel Indiana University Press ePub

Twelve

Previous page. Gayle, Bill, Marcy, and Carl Cook on the steps of the Supreme Court.

“What’s important about the tapestry of time that is history isn’t one event or a stream of events—no, what’s important is how events should guide us and shape our actions. Be healthy, encourage free thinking, take care of your community, and let history be your guide.”

—Bill Cook

Aline in Ready, Fire, Aim!, describing the Bloomington excitement when one of the city’s own suddenly popped up in Forbes Magazine’s annual listing of America’s 400 richest people, reads: “Bill Cook: Horatio Alger of the 1980s. From Nothing to the Forbes 400.”

That turned out to be more than a metaphor. In Washington, D.C., on April 9, 2010, 111 years after the death of nineteenth-century writer Horatio Alger Jr., the national Horatio Alger Association honored Bill and ten other great success stories at its annual awards program, a star-spangled black-tie event in Constitution Hall.

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7. Sunday, April 17, 2011 A Day of Remembering

Bob Hammel Indiana University Press ePub

Seven

For Dr. Larry Rink, the time from hearing about Bill Cook’s death while in China to getting to Bloomington is a blur. “I got back the next day,” he says. “I didn’t go home. I went right to the house. I can’t believe I wasn’t around.”

It has been more than two years now, and that knowingly irrational feeling hasn’t passed. Since another of his close friends, basketball coach Bob Knight, was the U.S. Olympic coach in 1984, Rink has been involved with international sports physicians’ groups and risen to the highest ranking possible. The business card he was given by the International University Sports Federation identifies him as “Chair Medical Committee.”

Within the field, doctors can serve at just one Olympics, and Rink’s time came at Barcelona in 1992. But, just as big in scope and number of participating countries and athletes is the every-two-years International University Games, and that is the group he continued to serve up through the summer 2013 edition in Kazan, Russia.

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Postscript: A Space that “Dances with Angels”

Bob Hammel Indiana University Press ePub

A SPACE THAT “DANCES WITH ANGELS”

The grandeur of Bill Cook’s contributions that will last long beyond his lifetime expanded months after his death, thanks to a long-time colleague’s respect and generosity. Gunar Gruenke, president of the Conrad Schmitt Studios organization, which was a partner with Bill and Gayle Cook at West Baden, French Lick, and so many of their greatest restoration projects, made a trip to Bloomington to visit Cook’s crypt at his self-chosen mausoleum, Valhalla Memory Garden. The result of that visit is a stunningly beautiful stained glass work that glorifies not just the building but appropriately reflects onto the Cook crypt.

The suburban-Milwaukee firm said in a statement that Gruenke on his visit “saw that there was no stained glass in the transepts of the large cruciform mausoleum. Feeling that this was not right for someone who had dedicated so much of his life to supporting art and architecture, Gunar recognized an opportunity to honor Bill and his work by beautifying his final resting place.”

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21. A Good Time in Our Lives

Bob Hammel Indiana University Press ePub

21

A Good Time in Our Lives

Oh, my. I think this is a good time in our life to be able to do some of the things that we’re doing. We love these preservation projects and feel they’re doing good. Our actual lifestyle hasn’t changed much. We’re still in the house that we bought for $36,750 and moved into in 1967. We’re right in town, where we always wanted to stay.

—Gayle Cook

A thriving company, its eventual ownership transfer to son Carl assured; at last a garage on their comfortable, longtime home; the historic hotels they rescued and resurrected now resort palaces in pastoral environs; away-from-it-all weekends at Cedar Farm, long stretches of summers (or whatever time they wish) on their Star 7 boat—life is pretty close to idyllic for Bill and Gayle Cook these days.

Idyllic, not idle.

Once a week—Mondays, when it’s closed—Gayle goes to the Monroe County Historical Museum in work clothes and works alongside others—outside, trimming bushes and the like, or inside, tackling clean-up projects or preparing collections or exhibits for display in the museum. Twice a year—at a February auction of donated objects (which usually brings in about $5,000) and a late-spring super garage sale ($16,000 net in 2007)—she is involved in set-up, the daylong sale, and eventual clean-up. “There wouldn’t be a museum without her,” another key museum volunteer, Mary Lee Deckard, said. Without her and Bill—the Cooks’ checkbook also is involved. Annually facing a financing problem that the two sales and solicited contributions and membership fees struggled to meet, the museum—like the COPS organization—got a surprise sustaining boost a couple of years ago: a $3 million endowment, with about 5 percent in interest available for use every year while keeping the endowment intact. That’s a $150,000-a-year stabilizer in perpetuity.

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10. Wednesday, June 1, 2011 Celebrating Quite a Life

Bob Hammel Indiana University Press ePub

Ten

Left was one final chance for Bloomington, Indiana University, so very many from his many interests, to say the final thank you they wanted to express.

On June 1, a month and a half after Bill Cook’s death, in the stately Indiana University Auditorium late on a Wednesday afternoon, his remarkable 80-year life was duly and formally and joyfully and at times tearfully celebrated.

The program’s unscheduled star was 17-month-old Eleanor, who scrambled up a formidable set of stairs and toddled on-stage as her father was speaking and praising her grandfather. It couldn’t have been better scripted. In mid-talk, Carl glanced to the side to see his surprise visitor approach, greeted her with “Oh, hi, Eleanor!” and, with a smiling, one-armed swoop, picked her up. That was the charming page one picture that spotlighted the Herald-Times coverage of the event: child in arm as Dad spoke.

Totally unplanned,” Gayle Cook calls that part of a special evening. “Marcy and I were in the front row on the far right, and the steps are on the far left of the stage. Marcy had Eleanor standing in front of her. She’d wander out a little, then she’d turn around and come back—she wasn’t going to leave Marcy. Then she started walking, and I thought, ‘I could grab her, but if I do, she might scream.’”

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