Gerald W. Cook of Richland Center died on June 16, 2013, at Meriter Hospital in Madison following a brief illness.
He was born on May 31, 1926, at Grand Rapids, Minnesota, the son of Walter and Fern Sylvia (Roach) Cook. On April 22, 1950, he married the love of his life, Bette Mae Wenholtz in Galena, Illinois, and shortly thereafter they moved to Richland Center where they raised their family and were active in community affairs.
Gerald was proud of his roots on the family farm located on the banks of the Mississippi River near Grand Rapids, not far from the headwaters of the Big River. He enjoyed telling stories about his boyhood and the adventures with his companions on and around the farm and the river. The Mississippi River always was an important part of his life and he and Bette Mae enjoyed traveling along the river to Red Wing and other communities as well as back to Grand Rapids to visit family and friends. Family was the most important part of his life and he dearly loved his wife, sons and daughter, grandchildren, brother and sisters, and extended members of the family. Gerald looked forward to family gatherings at holidays and the occasional reunion in Grand Rapids, Chicago, Madison, Spring Green or Richland Center.
Gerald was a World War II veteran, serving in the Navy from 1943-1947, mostly in the Pacific Theater, and was a member of the American Legion and VFW. After moving to Richland Center, he was a Sales Manager at WRCO AM-FM from 1951-1994. Gerald was active in the Town and Country Presbyterian Church, Masons, Jaycees, and PTA. He served on the Richland County Board of Supervisors and the Richland Center City Council and was active in economic development efforts for the region for many years, including multiple terms on the Southwestern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission. He served on many other boards and committees and was a recipient of awards for his community service.
Gerald was preceded in death by his parents and sister Connie (Kenneth) Mathew.
Gerald is survived by his wife of 63 years, Bette Mae; two sons, Donald Steven (Kathy) of Oregon, Michael (Linda) of Richland Center; daughter Elizabeth Cupp of Muscoda; as well as 15 grandchildren, 8 great-grandchildren and 2 great-great grandchildren. Gerald is further survive by a brother Dale (Marge) Cook of Rhinelander, a sister Donna (George) Barse of Minnesota, nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and many friends.
He will be missed for his sense of humor, deep affection for his family and inner circle of friends and for his fervent belief in the ideals of the United States of America. The little ones will miss hearing Bubby's woofer and funny stories about the crow and the stump and the older ones will miss the gleam in his eye as he told about a magical moment in the basement of the drug store in Grand Rapids.
Memorial services will be held on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 4:00 PM at the Pratt Memorial Chapel. Military rites will be provided by the Local Military Memorial Honors Unit following the service.
In lieu of flowers the family suggests memorials in Gerald's name be given to the American Legion Flag Park.
The Pratt Funeral and Cremation Service of Richland Center is assisting the family with their arrangements.
Online condolences can be made at prattfuneralservice.com.