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Cook Is Remembered for Innovation, Altruism

Condolences are delivered by Daniels, Coats, McRobbie, and others.

2002 Banquet

Photo: Cook Medical Group

Bill Cook, seen here in 2002, is being remembered by notables from Indiana and beyond for his entrepreneurship and generosity.

Tributes from Indiana and beyond began arriving late Friday after the death in Bloomington of Indiana’s wealthiest man, billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist Bill Cook.

In the comments section below, you can add your own impressions of Bill Cook and the impact you feel his life carried.

Senator Richard Lugar:
“Throughout his life, Bill Cook was known for his thoughtfulness and generosity.  I, along with countless others, have been deeply touched by the gifts Bill shared with Indiana. We continue to be thankful for the success Bill shared through his vision and steadfast community activity.  I profoundly admired his personal leadership and the inspiration he gave to young men and women as they observed and attempted to emulate his vision.  Char and I continue to hold Bill’s family in our thoughts and prayers.”

Senator Dan Coats:
“Bill Cook was a giant of a man whose creativity and generosity made life better for millions of people and made Indiana a better state. I had the privilege of getting to know him and the opportunity to catch a glimpse of his entrepreneurial spirit and enthusiasm. His legacy will continue to touch the lives of many and he will be missed greatly. Marsha and I extend our sincere condolences to his family and loved ones.”

Governor Mitch Daniels, who will be conferring posthumously upon Cook Indiana’s highest honor, the Sachem:
“As luck would have, Cheri and I were able to have dinner with Bill and Gayle Cook in the newly renovated Old Centrum building just last Saturday. I’ll always remember that bit of good fortune, as I will always remember this legendary Hoosier.”

IU President Michael McRobbie:
“We at Indiana University have lost a wonderful friend and partner in Bill Cook, who over the years has done so much to make IU the special place it is. So many of us at IU have been touched at one time or another by Bill’s vision and generosity that I know I speak from the heart for all of us in conveying our profound and deepest sympathy to Gayle and Carl.

Laurie and I were privileged to have spent a lot of time with Bill and Gayle in recent years, and we will miss him greatly. I was particularly touched when he paid me the honor of attending my naturalization ceremony last October.

Bill will long be remembered as an extraordinarily successful man of great generosity, not only to Indiana University, but to the City of Bloomington and indeed to all of Indiana. In less than a half century, he built a business that became a world leader in providing high-quality medical devices that have extended and added quality to the lives of millions of people.

He cared deeply for his business, but he also showed that same level of care and commitment to his community and to making the world a better place. We are especially grateful for his commitment to Indiana University, which he served ably as a trustee and also as a benefactor who was determined to do all he could to help us achieve our goal of excellence in all that we do.

Bill and Gayle have left an indelible mark in many areas of IU, including the School of Medicine, the Jacobs School of Music, the School of Education, the Wells Scholars Program, and of course IU Athletics. But it is an especially notable testimony to their generosity of spirit that they insisted that the name of every Cook employee be included in the very large plaque that is displayed in Cook Hall, our wonderful basketball development facility.

Bill Cook was truly a great man. He will be missed.”

IU Vice President and Director of Athletics Fred Glass:
“The coolest thing for me was just to get a chance to meet him. Even after the gift was complete, we had a few conversations. Not a lot, but it was an acquaintanceship that I really treasured. He and his wife’s gift to the athletic department really helped kick start the Tom Crean era, making Cook Hall what it is today and showing confidence that we were going the right way. His gift led to many other significant gifts. They weren’t as big as Bill’s, but it was obviously that people realized that if Bill Cook thinks this is something he ought to invest in, maybe we ought to as well. When you’re dealing with a guy like that, what can you say? He was something else. I feel lucky just to have known him.”

IU Head Men’s Basketball Coach Tom Crean:
“I am stunned and saddened. It’s hard to do justice to what he meant to not only this University, community and state but even the world. He was literally a life-changing giant of a man and leader. Not many people can say they made the world a better place because of work they did, but Mr. Cook sure can. The contributions he made will continue to impact lives forever.

Players, recruits and fans will constantly have the opportunity to be blessed by the presence of Cook Hall. We always show them the Bill and Gayle Cook plaques with the names of EVERY COOK EMPLOYEE listed on them. It shows a token of the appreciation of those that worked with them. We never get tired of talking about how special the Cook family is and always will be.”

IU Head Women’s Basketball Coach Felisha Legette-Jack:
“We have a chance with so many top recruits because of our facilities. Mr. Cook has done so much to help so many achieve. My heart is heavy knowing tonight he passed away. My condolences goes out to his family. Mr. Cook, we will work hard to make you proud.”

Sara Wittmeyer

Sara Wittmeyer is the News Bureau Chief for WFIU and WTIU. Sara has more than a decade of experience as a news reporter and previously served with KBIA at the University of Missouri, WNKU at Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights, KY, and at WCPO News in Cincinnati.

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