Thousands from around the world came to pay their respects Saturday to medical group founder and philanthropist Bill Cook.
Bill Cook’s first factory was a spare bedroom in his Bloomington apartment. 48 years later he leaves behind the world’s largest privately held medical device company, employing 10,000 people and a fortune Forbes estimates is worth $3.1 billion.
A public viewing was held Saturday at Cook world headquarters in Bloomington. On a rainy morning, thousands of people slowly walked by his casket — draped with an American Flag — while a harpist played in the background.
Vice President of Cook’s Women’s Health Division Christina Anne’ flew in from Belgium to pay her respects.
“I came back here because I wanted to be part here, I wanted to pay my respect and to be here with the family,” she said.
Jerry Arthur worked with Cook for 17 years and helped found Cook Pharmica together.
“One time I asked Bill where did you get your leadership skills from? Bill said my values guide my leadership, and that’s the only thing I think about is my values,” said Arthur.
Pete Yonkman is the Executive Vice President for Strategic Business Units. He said Bill Cook’s impact can be felt across the globe.
“Some of the most beautiful and just interesting condolences that have come in have come from India and China and Japan and all areas of the world and the impact that he had on people that he didn’t probably even know is just amazing and the products he was able to create,” said Yonkman.
Cook Group Chairman Steve Ferguson said it’s long been planned that Cook’s son Carl would take over the company.
“He’s been intimately involved and of course onsite here too, he’s well versed and has ever since he got out of school. He’s had exposure at one level or another with the company,” said Ferguson.
But Ferguson said with a crack in his voice, it’s still not easy to lose the man who started it all.
“So it’s a point of being strong, but I’d be different if I couldn’t say it didn’t hurt a lot.”
Besides his company, Cook leaves behind a legacy of restoring old buildings in Southern Indiana, including a $550 million restoration of the West Baden Springs and French Lick Resorts.
Cook officials say they don’t know where Mr. Cook will be buried and that information won’t be made public at this time.