Long-time Brookings resident and World War I veteran Alton Al Cook, died Saturday, just 11 days short of his birthday. He was 102.
Cook served on the USS Finland during World War I and received two medals of honor earlier this year.
The Good Conduct Medal and the World War II Victory Medal were awarded to Cook in August by fellow war veterans Bill Boyer, Bob Gilmore, Lloyd Olds and Richard Sloniker. The men made numerous phone calls and letters to obtain the medals from Washington D.C.
Cook held many positions in his life including electrician, chauffeur and mill worker. He worked in a machine shop for 20 years, first as a drill press operator, and eventually working his way to set-up manager.
He married his wife, Myrl Hodson, later in life. The couple never had children. They moved to Brookings in 1962. Cook outlived his wife, who died in 1986.
He was an accomplished artist, creating portraits from rock inlay with an art form called intarsia. He won several awards throughout the years for his artwork.
Jim Lamb, pastor of Cooks church, the First Baptist Community Church, said, There was never a dull moment with Al. He was so full of life experiences; he really lived his life. He had a witty sense of humor, and was the most positive guy Ive ever met.
He is remembered as a very giving person by his friend, Shane Alcorn. Alcorn knew Cook since he was 9 years old.
If he knew somebody had an interest in something, hed give it to them if he had it, Alcorn said.
He recalled that when he was 12 he was collecting pennies, and Cook gave him his penny collection. The collection was a complete set, with coins dating from 1900 to 1972.
Cook also gave Alcorn an original telegram he sent to his mother as a teenager in World War I. It read: Im here in France. Im safe going to the front lines tomorrow.
Al was awesome, Alcorn said. He never said a bad thing about anybody, and he was always thankful for what he had. When you would ask him how things were going, hed say, real good, real good.
Alcorn said Cook loved ships. He also loved to go to the library and read. Cook grew exotic plants, lemon trees and orchids in his greenhouse.
He was one of the first people to place a transcontinental phone call across the United States because he was an electrician and worked for the phone company.
Cooks whaling and sea-faring tales prompted Alcorn to visit the Eastern seaboard towns that Cook grew up in.
Im sure going to miss him, he said.