2016 Salisbury Award goes to Bob Cook

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Nonagenarian Bob Cook will be the 64th recipient of The Salisbury Award at Wor-Wic Community College, the institution he helped found, on Friday.

Cook, who at 90 remains energetic and actively involved in the community, was informed about the honor in advance and asked by Mat Tilghman, chairman of the Salisbury Award Committee, where he would like the ceremony to be.

“I gave it some thought and decided because I am very close to Wor-Wic Community College and I am one of the founders, I would ask them if they would host it,” Cook told the Salisbury Independent.

Tilghman praised Cook for his many endeavors.

“It’s really amazing the things he’s been involved in. He’s a gentleman who has cared deeply about the City of Salisbury and the greater community of Wicomico County. For almost 50 years he’s made his life work improving this community,” Tilghman said.

Cook’s extensive resume extends back to his pre-teen years, when he first joined the Boy Scouts.

Cook worked as executive director of the Greater Salisbury Committee about 25 years. He’s a retired colonel who served in the U.S. Army at the end of World War II.

He helped establish the Community Foundation, was involved in resurrecting the flagging YMCA and was on the board of the Hudson Center, which offers aid to those struggling with substance abuse.

“It certainly wasn’t difficult to choose him,” Tilghman said.

“It’s interestingly how we sit around the table and talk about it and the person we choose sort of rises to the top very quickly. We have a good group of people on the Salisbury Award Committee with a lot of different connections,” said Tilghman, who will present the award to Cook at the event, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Allied Health Building on campus.

Described as the community’s oldest and most prestigious independent civic award, The Salisbury Award recognizes outstanding dedication and service to the Salisbury area.

The 2015 recipient was longtime state Delegate Norman Conway.

“When I told Bob he was our choice this year, he was surprised, very surprised, and very humbled. After giving it some thought, he felt like he wanted to do something at Wor-Wic. I approached Ray Hoy and they readily jumped on it,” Tilghman said.

Hoy, president of Wor-Wic, called Cook “a wonderful friend to me personally and a constant and continuous supporter of our community.”

“He has worked on every campaign,” Hoy said.

A native of northwestern Pennsylvania, Cook was widowed in 2009 when his wife, Janice, died. They had four children. There are now also seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

“I think about her every day. She loved to play tennis. In fact, Salisbury Councilman Jim Ireton, when he was mayor, named the public tennis courts after her,” Cook said about his wife.

“I have been thinking about this award, of course, and really no one, certainly not me, could have done any of these things alone. I’ve had two partners in this.

“One is the wonderful people in this community. In everything I will be recognized for I had one or many partners,” he said.

 

“My other partner was the Christian God of my understanding. I feel very strongly that, if I were left to my own devices, I would really have messed it up,” he said, laughing.

“I don’t do everything right, but every morning when I get up I ask God to let me think the right thoughts and say the right words and do the right things,” Cook said.

“That is my morning prayer.”

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Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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