Delbert James Cook, a resident of Ozaukee County since 1962, died of natural causes at the age of 91 at Alexian Village of Milwaukee on April 18, 2001. He is best known for his civic and environmental leadership, his restoration of old barns into lovely homes and his deep love for the history and beauty of Ozaukee County.
Born on April 14, 1910 to German and Polish immigrants in Chicago, Mr. Cook attended James G. Blaine Grammar School. He graduated from Lake View High School, studied architecture at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago and Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.
His employment history included marketing and management positions with the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, McCann Erickson Advertising Agency, Young & Rubicam Advertising Agency, Kingan & Company, National Dairy Corporation, the Association of National Ice Cream Manufacturers, Ruthrauf & Ryan Advertising Agency, Country Gardens Canning Company and Baker, Dickinson & Johnson Advertising Company. These assignments took the family from Wisconsin to Minnesota, Illinois, New York, Connecticut, Washington, D.C. and finally back to Wisconsin.
Mr. Cook's love of nature and personal activism began at an early age. His leadership skills were honed in the Boy Scouts of America where he became an Eagle Scout, Merit Badge Counselor, member of the Order of the Arrow and charter member of the Theta Delpha Alpha Fraternity. He had been a member of the Rotary Club, Lions Club and Elks Club. After settling in Ozaukee County in 1962 Cook became interested in history, the restoration of old structures and the environment. He became president of the Ozaukee County Historical Society and founded Ozaukee County's Pioneer Village. He founded the Cedar Creek Restoration Council while leader of the Deckers Corners 4-H Club, and was a member of the Greater Milwaukee Priority Committee. He helped map the route that is now I-43 from Milwaukee to Green Bay in order to preserve ecological natural resources.
His leadership on environmental matters gained national attention when he was featured in a July 1970 Reader's Digest article: "He Brought A Stream Back to Life." With the local and regional press highlighting his work, he was called upon to counsel citizen's groups across the country on how to mobilize resources, culminating in several awards from the State of Wisconsin and elsewhere. Wisconsin Gov. Warren P. Knowles and President Richard Nixon wrote him congratulatory letters in 1969 and 1970 for his pioneering efforts to clean up the nation's waterways.
In his later years Mr. Cook founded Barncraft, Inc., in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. As a general contractor, the company specialized in using original building materials and techniques to restore old barns and outbuildings into attractive, inhabitable structures, some of which may stand for centuries owing to their strength of design. Many examples of his craftsmanship can be seen in and around Ozaukee County, including those at Horns Corners, Pleasant Valley Road and Hwy. 84 near Fredonia. He is also credited with having strengthened the cast covered bridge in Wisconsin north of Cedarburg.
Mr. Cook was always willing to stand up for his beliefs, such as cleaning up the environment or notifying state officials of corrective steps they should take. Though he never ran for public office, issues of civic concern were always close to his heart. He loved kids and sought to teach them some of life's lessons through various group activities, be it 4-H, Boy Scouts or high school activities. Throughout life he enjoyed the outdoors, and loved to sail in the open waters of New York, Connecticut, Wisconsin and Florida.
His parents were Hugo Paul Cook (Koch) and Pauline Cook (nee Birr). His sisters were Myrtle Bartusch and Lillian Norst, both deceased. Mr. Cook is survived by his daughter Barbara Cook of Delray Beach, Fla. and sons Robert Cook of Naples, Fla., James Cook of Menlo Park, Calif. and John Cook of Zurich, Switzerland. He is further survived by his grand children Richard Zurawski, Debra Waller, Robert Cook, Brandi Miller and Shelley Cook, and by several great-grand-children.
Mueller Funeral Home of Cedarburg provided final services on April 22, 2001. Interment will be held in late July 2001 at Zur Ruhe Cemetery in Cedarburg. The family wishes to acknowledge and thank his many friends and acquaintances who made his life meaningful, in particular the William Malone family of Cedarburg and the dedicated staff of Alexian Village of Milwaukee who so greatly comforted him in his final years.
Margaret Jane Cook Hadley
1915–2010 (m. 1939)
Lillian Martha Norst
In Loving Memory of
Delbert J. Cook
Apr. 13, 1910
Apr. 18, 2001
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