Cook plants a memory in Washburn

Donovan Cook, professor for the education department, passed away this past June. An honorary memorial was held last week, with a tree planted in his name.

Jaimie Luse

Last week a seedling tree was planted that, like the man it is dedicated to, will grow with Washburn over the years to come.

Donovan Cook, a professor in the education department, taught at Washburn for 22 years, passed away this past June.

The memorial was an opportunity for friends, family and students to come and remember him and to dedicate the Colorado Spruce tree that was planted in front of Carnegie Hall in his honor. At the ceremony, his family and some former students shared stories and memories of Cook.

All of his family and the students that had him as a teacher told how much he loved teaching and that he had truly found a career that he loved. That was shown by the fact that he was chosen as the national sponsor for National Education Association and had received emeritus status last year.

“My dad found a profession and a school that he loved. I would tell him that not many people can say that they would choose to keep working rather than retire,” said Jennifer Cook, his daughter, during her speech. “It was a sign that dad had chosen to dedicate his life to a career that he truly loved and enjoyed.”

His son, Geoffery Cook spoke similarly of his father and his passion for teaching.

“[Donovan Cook’s] love for showing others a new way to think about life and show then a new skill they could use for the rest of their lives,” said Geoffrey Cook.

Cook also cared about his students, a fact that was made evident through the memories and stories shared by his former students and his family.

“No one was a stranger to him,” said Sheri Cook, his wife. “His students would invariably become his friends many of whom kept in contact with him no matter how far away they moved or how many years may have passed.”

His daughter also talked about how much Cook loved his students.

“I hope his students will bring his kind spirit, optimism and dedication with them,” said Jennifer Cook.

The tree was provided and planted by the education department faculty, staff and students.  There will also be a plaque hung outside his office in his honor.

“He would be so honored, and for me it’s such an honor that they’ve done this for him, this is such a wonderful tribute to him,” said Sheri Cook.

The tree, will remain as a silent testament that will remind people of Cook and the memory and legacy he left at the school.

“I am excited to see how it will grow, and it will be a part of this landscape, a part of this school like he has been and will always be [a part of],” said Geoffrey Cook.

Sheri Cook ended her comments expressing what she felt Cook would have been feeling at the ceremony.

“Donovan truly loved all of you and I know he is watching us today and his heart is so full of happiness and joy because of the honor you have given him by planting this beautiful spruce tree in front of his beloved education building,” said Sheri Cook. “Many of us will pass this tree on a regular basis and remember who it was planted for but as the years go by others will simply pass by and see a tree but we will remember, we will know that this tree was planted in honor of a wonderful man we had with us for a very brief moment in time”.

At the end of the ceremony, Carmen Cook, Donovan’s sister, got up and sang “Amazing Grace,” in front of the tree.