Governor Mitch Daniels presented the state’s highest honor, to the family of late leader, innovator, and philanthropist Bill Cook last night.
The awarding of the Sachem was part of an event celebrating the life and accomplishments of Bill Cook at the IU Auditorium. IU President Michael McRobbie served as the master of ceremonies and John Mellencamp performed.
Ross Jennings first met Cook as a researcher at the IU Medical Center in the 60s.
“In his life he did the things that he liked to do and it so happened that whether it was Cook Medical things or whether it was restoration, the things that he liked to do benefitted other people,” said Jennings.
Former Cook Group vice-president Miles Kanne started as a salesman.
“Bill loved a challenge, in fact the worst thing you could ever say to Bill is you can’t do that because he would prove you were wrong and he could do it,” said Kanne.
Tina Connor of Indiana Landmarks spoke about Cook’s legacy of historical preservation including the West Baden Springs Hotel.
“To non-profits, this approach was a triple gift, when he donated design and engineering expertise he covered the cost of restoration, managed the construction. He allowed the non-profit to continue doing its work,” she said.
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels said Cook lived a noble life, a kind anyone might hope to aspire.
“He is now a historic preservation project for all of us. He has entered history. He is as Lincoln, one who belongs to the ages and I know we’ll all leave here today determined to keep his memory alive.”
Bill’s son Carl accepted the state’s highest honor on behalf of the Cook family.
“I’m not sure that there’s a whole lot that I could add to that, we all have our stories and being his son, of course, I have maybe a few more than most, but I think the thing that I will say in my unbiased opinion is that I had the best dad in the world,” said Cook.
Bill Cook was the founder of the world’s largest medical device firm. He and his wife Gayle started the company in a bedroom of their Bloomington apartment; the company now employs more than 10,000 people worldwide.
Video to be added after the WTIU Newsbreak tonight.