DBU mourns the loss of Sheila Cook, wife of former DBU President Dr. Gary Cook, and cherished friend and mentor to so many members of the DBU Family and beyond. She passed after a brief illness on the morning of Saturday, January 27, surrounded by family.
From 1988-2016, Mrs. Cook served as the First Lady of DBU and made DBU a home away from home to thousands upon thousands of students, opening her house to countless, providing prayers, care packages, holiday meals, and so much more. For the faculty and staff of the University, she was a welcoming smile, listening ear, caring heart, and ready prayer partner for any need that might arise.
“The DBU Family is grief stricken,” said Dr. Adam C. Wright, current DBU President. “For many of us, Sheila Cook was so much more than just a friend. She was family. Mrs. Cook became like a second mother to Candice and me throughout our time at DBU. She was a prayer warrior and constant support, and I know that my story is similar for thousands of others who have been touched by her grace, wisdom, generosity, and kindness. So many of us would not be what we are today without having had Mrs. Sheila Cook in our lives. She truly epitomized Christ-centered servant leadership.”
Mrs. Cook was especially loved by her family, including her loving husband of 49 years, Dr. Gary Cook, and their two sons and their families: David, and his wife, Nicole, and their children Molly, Caleb, and Grace; and Mark, and his wife, Shannon.
“I have known of few others in my life who are more caring and loving than Sheila Cook,” explained Candice Wright, wife of DBU President Dr. Adam Wright. “As a student, she would constantly stay in contact with so many of us, and she always let us know that she loved us, was praying for us, and was always there to help. When Adam and I stepped into this new role, she only doubled her time caring and praying for me. She was a model mother, wife, and First Lady.”
A memorial service will be held in her honor on the DBU campus in Pilgrim Chapel on Saturday, February 3, at 2:30 p.m., with a reception held in the Hillcrest Great Hall prior to the service from 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be sent to the Sheila Cook Endowed Scholarship Fund, Dallas Baptist University, 3000 Mountain Creek Parkway, Dallas, Texas 75211.
About Sheila Cook
A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Sheila Cook was born on March, 6, 1948, to Oscar and Edna Raymer, who raised her brother, Elwyn, and her in a loving, Christian home. Throughout her life, she remained an active member of her church and found inside this Christian community an outlet for her unique gifts of encouragement, teaching, and hospitality.
Sheila left Louisville to pursue her undergraduate education at Georgetown College and returned to her hometown to earn a Master of Education degree at the University of Louisville and begin her career as a school teacher. It was during this time that she met a young man named Gary Cook, who attended her Sunday School class, was a student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary there in Louisville, and had just been named the Minister with Senior Adults at her church.
The two were soon married, and after completing his work at Southern, the couple left for Texas, where Gary pursued his doctorate at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Sheila continued her work as an educator, a central passion of her life.
For 18 years, Sheila served in the classroom as a teacher. With tremendous compassion and patience, she took the time to educate those who needed extra care and attention. At the elementary and middle school level, she spent 14 years with learning disabled students, for two years she taught remedial reading to junior high students, and for another two years, she helped mentally challenged students at the junior high and high school levels.
Shortly after the Cooks were married, Dr. Cook was called to pastor First Baptist Church of McGregor, a small town just outside of Waco. Two years later, they moved to Waco as Dr. Cook became a part of the Baylor University faculty and administration. Sheila continued her teaching career during this time, and when she was not in her school classroom, Sheila could be found in the church, teaching Sunday School, Mission Friends classes, Vacation Bible Schools, or Young Women’s Auxiliary groups. She served on pastoral care committees, preschool committees, long-range planning committees, and even served as the accompanist for the preschool choir. Always warm and welcoming, Sheila made people feel at home and encouraged them along in their walk with the Lord.
During this time, the Cooks also welcomed into the world two sons, David Daniel and Mark Andrew, and Sheila discovered one of the greatest joys in her life, being a mother. Through the years, she loved and cared for her boys, serving as a teacher, encourager, cheerleader, prayer partner, and model for the wives the two would marry when they grew older.
In 1988, the Cook Family left Waco for Dallas. As the incoming president of Dallas Baptist University, Dr. Cook faced many challenges, and Mrs. Cook stood by his side, supporting him every step of the way. She became an active member of the DBU Women’s Auxiliary Board, serving as the chairperson of many committees and events. In recognition for this service and her work at DBU, the Women’s Auxiliary Board presented her with the Ruth Award in 1994.
Upon arriving at DBU, Mrs. Cook began the DBU Hospitality Committee to welcome DBU newcomers. Over time, she became the consummate hostess, holding showers, receptions, and luncheons in the President’s Home that are too many to count, while making every person feel a part of the larger DBU family. In her later years, she helped to develop and organize a special program called “Becoming Women of Excellence,” designed to encourage and mentor young women at DBU. In recognition for her service to the school, DBU named her an Honorary Alumna, named one of the Colonial Village Apartment Buildings in her honor, Sheila Cook Hall, and presented her with an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree.
Beyond DBU, she served her community in a variety of ways. As an active member of Park Cities Baptist Church, she taught a weekly Ladies Bible Study, developing a set of life-long friends who became a second family. She also served as the co-leader of a Ladies Bible Study at Brother Bill’s Helping Hand, a ministry serving the needs in West Dallas, and was a member of the Brother Bill’s Helping Hand Women’s Council. She received a great joy in being a very active member of the Esther Sunday School class. In addition, she served on the Advisory Board of the Baylor School of Nursing and on the Advisory Board for the ministry Asha Partners.
In recent years, Sheila enjoyed serving as a grandmother to her three incredible grandchildren, Molly, Caleb, and Gracie, as well as spending time with her friends and family.
Sheila was preceded in death by her parents, Oscar and Edna Raymer. She is survived by her loving husband of 49 years, Gary Cook; her son David, his wife, Nicole, their children, Molly, Caleb, and Grace; and her son, Mark, and his wife, Shannon. She is also survived by her brother, Elwyn Raymer, and his wife, Linda.