The richest man in Indiana is dead at the age of 80. Medical group founder and philanthropist Bill Cook died Friday at his home in Bloomington following a battle with congestive heart failure. He was surrounded by his family.
Bill Cook was the founder of the world’s largest medical device firm. His company, Cook Incorporated, produced the world’s first coronary stent and is credited with many other innovations in the field of minimally invasive medical devices. 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.
In September, 2010, Cook’s estimated net worth of $3.1 billion placed him 101st on the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans.
In addition to his business accomplishments, Cook was known for his philanthropic work. He gave hundreds of millions of dollars to colleges and universities and to providing low cost medical care for poor families.
In a written statement describing Cook’s legacy, Cook Group president Kem Hawkins said, “He knew the ultimate gift is to give and not receive – to not even think about receiving or care about receiving.” (See a PDF of the full Cook Medical Group statement here.)
Cook was also a leader in the historical preservation movement. One of his most notable projects was the restoration of the West Baden Springs Hotel.
Cook’s most recent major preservation initiative was the Central Avenue Methodist Church in Indianapolis, a yearlong, $13 million project to which he and his wife contributed more than $10 million.
The formal unveiling of the renovated building — the new home of the conservation group Indiana Landmarks — was scheduled for this Saturday, with Sen. Richard Lugar and musician John Mellencamp slated to appear.
In addition to his wife, Cook is survived by his son, Carl, daughter-in-law, Marcy, and granddaughter, Eleanor.