By Fred Stabbert III
DELHI May 22, 2001 One of Sullivan Countys most well-liked state representatives, retired New York State Senator Charles D. Charlie Cook, died Wednesday evening at OConnor Hospital in Delhi.
According to a family friend, Cook had been known to have cardiac problems the last several years.
Cook had just returned home from California, where he witnessed his sons graduation from college, his friend said.
Cooks career in public service spanned 33 years from 1965 until 1998.
A staunch Republican, Cook never lost an election or primary and ran for his 40th Senatorial seat unopposed for many years.
A former newspaper editor, Cook held the reigns at the Deposit Courier newspaper in Deposit and the Bainbridge News in Bainbridge before serving in the U.S. Army (1958-60).
Delaware County Times Editor Burt Moore, who was a friend of Cooks, often wrote about the hometown Delhi hero.
I dont think he had an enemy in the world, Moore said. He was so well-liked by everyone.
In fact, Moore said, Cook was honored three weeks ago by the Delaware County Chamber as their Man of the Year.
Walter Sipple of Mileses, former chairman of the Sullivan County Board of Supervisors, was a close personal friend of Cooks.
I wish they could have carbon-copied Charlie for every legislator to see, Sipple said. He was a good representative of our district, which had a lot of diversity.
He was there when it counted and was a man of integrity, Sipple said. I admired him very much.
Sullivan County Republican Chair Greg Goldstein was both shocked and saddened to hear of Cooks passing.
He was always a gentleman and worked real hard, Goldstein said. Whatever you needed, he would get it. He was truly one of the few gentleman (in state politics).
New York State Senator John Bonacic, who now holds Cooks seat, said, Professionally, he was a champion in the fields of education, rural healthcare, and womens rights. What made Charlie Cook special, however, is not his professional achievements; rather it was the respect he earned and shared with everyone who knew him.
In an age of sometimes unyielding cynacism, Charlie Cooks word was his bond. I am honored to have called him a friend.
As family was returning home from around the country, funeral arrangements were incomplete at presstime.
The arrangements are being handled by the Howe & Peete Funeral Parlor in Delhi.
Cook is survived by his wife, Dorothy, three children and three grandchildren.
Cooks political career began by getting elected as Delaware County Treasurer and then Commissioner of Delaware Countys Social Services.
He then sought higher office, serving in the New York State Assembly (1973-79) and the New York State Senate (1979-1998).
The silver-haired legislator always sported his tradmark wire-rimmed glasses and businessmans suit and was considered a strong advocate for sportsmen across the state.
Governor George Pataki said, Senator Charles D. Cook was a man of great decency and integrity. All those who knew and worked with Charlie came to respect his command of issues, his determination to stand up for his beliefs and his ability to elevate the level of discourse in New York State government.
The flags will fly at half staff at the State Capitol as we mourn the passing of this honorable and tireless public servant, Pataki, once a colleague of Cooks, said. My thoughts and prayers are with Senators Cooks wife, Dorothy, and his family during their time of sorrow.
Not only did Cook have a 33-year tenure in Albany, but he also served on some of the highest committees, including chairman of the Senates Education Committee; chairman of the Senates Agriculture Committee; and chairman of the Senates Local Government and Transportation Committee.
In addition, he was the first chairman of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources.
Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno said, I am very saddened by the death of former Senator Charles Cook. For almost three decades, he was the strongest voice in the Legislature for rural New Yorkers. He worked tirelessly to improve accessibility to health care and improve the quality of housing throughout rural New York. As the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, he fought to increase education funding and opportunities.
Charlie Cook was a kind and sincere man with tremendous common sense, Bruno said, and he had an easy manner that everyone enjoyed. He will be greatly missed, and I extend my prayers and sympathies to his family.