Albert Baldwin “Sandy” Cook, III died October 17, 2019. He was born August 29, 1931 in Ionia, Michigan to Margaret Reineke and A. B. Cook, Jr. When he was 8 years old, the family, which then included a younger sister Margie, returned to his parents’ hometown, Owosso, Michigan to live on the Cook family farm. During World War II, the family lived for a time in Louisiana and Texas near military bases to be closer to his father before he was eventually transferred to the South Pacific. Like his father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Sandy attended Michigan State University (then Michigan State College), where young professors who had attended graduate school on the GI bill nurtured his passion for learning and his love of literature, and he decided he wanted to be a college teacher himself. After graduating with honors in 1953, his R.O.T.C. commission took him to Colorado Springs, Colorado where on a blind date he met Jessie Jeanne McMurrough, a public school teacher. They were engaged after a short courtship, some of it carried out via letter, and married on July 14, 1954. Their daughter Susan was born in 1955, followed by son David in 1956, and twin daughters, Ann and Mary, in 1958.
After completing his Army service at Ft. Leonard Wood, Sandy began graduate study in English at Western Reserve University (now Case Western Reserve) in Cleveland, earning his M.A. (1956) and Ph. D. (1963) degree with a dissertation on the 17th-century English writer John Bunyan and his popular religious allegory, The Pilgrim’s Progress. After an early teaching stint at Buena Vista College in Storm Lake, Iowa, he joined the faculty of Northern Michigan University in 1960, and then the University of Kansas in 1968, where he was hired for his expertise as a linguist, and published his textbook Introduction to the English Language. He taught at KU until he his retirement in 1996. He was a dedicated and often demanding teacher, and was especially proud of his 10 years of service to the department as Undergraduate Coordinator where he endeavored to help every student who came into his office. He noted upon his retirement that his tombstone should read “He tried his darndest.”
Following his marriage to Jeanne, he became a devout member of the Presbyterian denomination, embracing Presbyterian tenets and polity with vigor. A dedicated member of West Side Presbyterian Church, he served his local congregation and larger denomination as a ruling elder, Clerk of Session, and as the Stated Clerk of Northern Kansas Presbytery, the chief ecclesiastical officer of the Presbytery. He served the Synod in both judicatory and programmatic roles and was a commissioner to the annual General Assembly twice. He was an avid reader in biblical history and theology and became something of an expert on the Hebrew Scriptures and the Bible as literature.
Sandy and his wife loved to travel and made several trips to the U.K. They had season tickets to the Kansas City Lyric Opera and loved attending cultural events in Lawrence. After the untimely death of his beloved wife in 1997, Sandy continued to travel, enjoy his grandchildren and serve his church. Throughout his life Sandy was a voracious reader, something he learned one could do for fun while on the long bus rides from the family farm to school. Reading and his love for books, newspapers and journals kept him current on culture and politics almost until the end when his short-term memory began to fail. Crossword puzzles—done in ink in his inimitable “lefty” handwriting—were also a favorite. Sandy will be remembered for his quick wit and his fondness for funny stories. Even to the end he could hold forth on family genealogy, books he’d read and taught, and church history.
He is survived by his 4 children Susan (Roger Pierson) of Madison WI, David (Trudy) of Parker CO, Ann of Lawrence, and Mary Jorgenson (Mark) of Kansas City MO, as well as eight grandchildren: Andrew Mazur, Katie (Marc Harman), Ellen (Brett Woods), Molly and David Jorgenson, Sarah Cook and Rebecca (Cody) Garrett, and Jesse Cook-Pierson, and four great-grandchildren Violette and Jonas Harman, Gunner Garrett and Teddy Woods and beloved nieces and nephews.
A Memorial Service is scheduled for 3:00 p.m., on November 9, 2019 at West Side Presbyterian Church. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials made in his name to West Side Presbyterian Church (1024 Kasold Dr. Lawrence, Kansas 66049).