Dr. James F. Cook, age 80, of Rome, GA, died on April 9, 2020 at his home. Son of the late James F. and Alma Jenkins Cook, he was born in Balboa, Panama Canal Zone on December 3, 1940. He grew up and attended the public schools in Washington, D.C. He earned an A.A. at Young Harris College in 1960, a B.A. at Emory University in 1962, an M.A. at Georgia State University in 1964 (the first one awarded in the field of history), and a Ph.D. at the University of Georgia in 1972.
Dr. Cook is survived by his widow; his son, Sean of Boise, ID; his son, Jamie of Athens, GA; and his sister, Nancy of Dunwoody, GA. Also surviving are one nephew, Geoey, and his wife Michelle and daughter, Evie of Atlanta; Cleta’s son Jeff, wife Stacy, and children Drew and Moriah of Rome; and son Chris, wife Traci, and children Kara Anne and Will of Nashville, TN.
He taught history at Georgia State University for four years until 1970 when he became one of the original faculty members at Floyd Junior College. Dr. Cook taught history at Floyd (now Georgia Highlands College) for 30 years, until retiring in 2000. A rarity in academia today, Dr. Cook was a conservative who had great respect for America’s Founding Fathers and founding documents. An advocate of learning through travel, he spent six weeks in India on a Fulbright-Hays grant in 1985 and led 13 bus study-tours of Washington, Gettysburg and Williamsburg as well as 17 tours of Europe. A life-time student of Georgia’s political history, Dr. Cook published numerous articles and four books: Governors of Georgia, a biography of Gov. Carl Sanders, a biography of Rep. Carl Vinson, and a history of Floyd College entitled We Fly By Night. In later years, he published dozens of op-eds on historical and political subjects in the Rome News-Tribune.
Although quiet by nature, Dr. Cook often assumed positions of leadership, serving as president of his college fraternity (PiKA), the Polk County Historical Society, the Georgia Association of Historians, the Polk County Republican Party, the Cedartown Optimist Club, and the Georgia Mountain Music Club.
Like the Apostle Paul, Jim looked back at his accomplishments and concluded that they were rubbish compared to knowing Jesus Christ as Savior.
In 2007, he married Cleta Doan Hardy, a widow, and moved from Cedartown to Rome. She was a wonderful helpmate and they did almost everything together. Cleta shared his interest in music, dance, church work, gardening, travel, entertaining, and sports. She even joined him in watching the Boston Red Sox, the Georgia Bulldogs, and the Atlanta Falcons. Both performed regularly at the Georgia Mountain Music Club, the Gospel Singers at McDonald’s, and at numerous assisted living homes. Both also taught a Sunday School class at Northside Church, and Jim played guitar on the Praise Team. Jim was a life-time member of the Optimist Club and the Georgia Association of Historians.
Funeral services will be held on Monday, April 12, at 2:00pm at Northside Church, 75 N. Floyd Park Road, NE, Rome, GA 30165, with the Rev. Phil Wade and Dr. Chris Hardy officiating. Entombment will follow in the Oaknoll Memorial Gardens.
The family will receive friends at Northside Church, on Monday from 1:00pm until time of service.
Pallbearers are asked to assemble at the church on Monday at 1:00pm and include; Active: Geoey Cook, Will Hardy, Fred Sylvester, Johnny Davis, Dan Campbell and Jeff Macleod. Honorary pallbearers are: Northside Church Speeders, Georgia Highlands Retirees, and the Saturday Morning McDonalds Singers.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Cook Scholarship at Georgia Highlands College or to Northside Church.
Henderson and Sons Funeral Home, North Chapel, has charge of the funeral arrangements.