Leaders at Grand Valley State University and in the West Michigan community are mourning the death of friend, philanthropist and business leader Peter C. Cook on November 28, at the age of 96.
Cook was a benefactor whose gifts became milestones of progress for Grand Valley. He supported buildings for the health professions, ecumenical campus ministry, and the university’s Grand Rapids campus.
“Grand Valley State University has lost one if its true pillars, and the community has lost a model philanthropist,” said Grand Valley President Thomas J. Haas. “Peter was a perennial wellspring of generosity and kindness. His leadership has shaped the Grand Valley you see today. I was saddened to learn of his passing, yet I know his memory and legacy will always be a part of what we do.”
Cook was a member of the Advisory Cabinet for The Grand Valley University Foundation. He donated to the Eberhard Center in Grand Rapids and was a member of the “Land Barons,” which completed the land acquisition that led to the construction of the Richard M. DeVos Center, which Cook also supported. He and DeVos also teamed up to support the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences.
"As a member of the Advisory Cabinet for the Grand Valley University Foundation, Peter was dedicated to the success of Grand Valley," said Rich DeVos, general chairman of the Grand Valley University Foundation. "His vision for the university as a valued community asset and his passion for the students inspired all of us. He taught us all how to give."
Cook recently established the Peter C. Cook Leadership Academy housed within the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, connecting professionals as mentors with students. Cook and Ralph W. Hauenstein were close friends for more than 50 years.
“Peter was a cherished friend and a wonderful colleague over many decades,” Hauenstein said. “His spirit of generosity to the people of this community will stand as a permanent monument to the type of person he was. I have always been honored to be his friend.”
The Cook Carillon Tower on the Allendale Campus is the most visible evidence of the long record of support from Peter and his late wife Pat. Peter was also honored with a Doctorate of Humanities and named to the Grand Valley State Hall of Fame.
“Pat and I have been supporters of Grand Valley ever since it was founded,” Cook said in a previous interview. “God has blessed us to be able to provide this support.”
The Cooks’ support is evident as the university marks its 50th anniversary this year.
“Peter was a valued, trusted friend and was instrumental to the growth and development of Grand Valley State University,” vice president of Development Maribeth Wardrop said. “His leadership on the foundation and the many gifts he gave to the university truly made an impact on Grand Valley and West Michigan.”