Robert L. Cook, Jr. and Sara Dubose Cook, a Salisbury couple known for their quiet and consistent philanthropy and for their community advocacy on a variety of issues, were honored by Catawba College Sunday, April 5th. The two were the recipients of the institution's prestigious Adrian L. Shuford, Jr. Award for Distinguished Service.
The award presentation was made by College President Dr. W. Craig Turner during a special President's Circle Event, held to recognize the institution's major donors, in the Robertson College-Community Center.
The award is presented annually to individuals whose actions and generosity to both the college and their communities emulated those of the late Adrian L. Shuford, Jr. of Conover, a businessman and a long-serving member of the College Board of Trustees.
The President's Award for Distinguished Service was first presented in 1983, but in 1984, the award was named to honor Mr. Shuford and in recognition of all he had done for the College. 2009 marks the 27th year that Catawba has presented this award.
Turner said of the Cooks while making the presentation, "These recipients have a long and loyal history with the college which stretches back more than four decades. However, they also have a long history with the Rowan-Salisbury Community and are intimately aware of the symbiotic relationship between our college and the community."
Turner called the couple "lovers of education and caring individuals of integrity, humility and compassion who have acted as the College's champions of excellence." He noted that Catawba College's students "have been the ultimate beneficiaries of the Cooks' ongoing advocacy and stewardship."
Sara Cook, speaking on behalf of herself and her husband, Bob, noted she was honored, humbled and "shocked" as the recipient of the Adrian L. Shuford, Jr. Award. "Catawba nourishes and enriches the community," she said. She joked that when she became engaged to Bob Cook she was a junior at Catawba. She told him, "He'd have to become a Presbyterian and let me finish college;" he did both.
A native of Sumter, S.C., Sara Cook majored in sociology at Catawba, graduating cum laude in 1965. In the late 1980s and mid 1990s, she served first as vice chair and later as chair of Catawba's Board of Visitors and is a current member of Catawba's Board of Trustees. She has served on the Major Gifts Committee during the Campaign for Catawba. In 1998, she was honored at Catawba's Homecoming activities with the Distinguished Alumna Award, and in 2003, she was honored as the recipient of the College's O.B. Michael Award, given annually at graduation to an alumnus or alumna who has made an outstanding contribution to the college and/or society.
Sara Cook founded the Salisbury-Rowan Families in Action and chaired that organization. She has served on the board of Rowan Regional Medical Center Foundation, the Salisbury Community Foundation and as an elder in her church, First Presbyterian Church. She has also been active in the local YMCA.
Robert "Bob" Cook is a graduate of Davidson College and runs the family business, J.H. Cook & Sons of Granite Quarry, that he purchased from his father in the 1980s. He and Sara are parents of two sons and grandparents of three. The couple has established an endowed scholarship in honor of their family and has provided gifts to support numerous projects and programs, including the Campus Ministry Fund, the Chiefs Club, the Catawba Fund, student life programs, the annual Service of Lessons and Carols, the Shuford Stadium renovation, the Shuford Stadium lights campaign, renovations to the President's House, and various campaigns to benefit Catawba's physical plant and endowment.
In addition to Sara, two other members of the Cook family attended Catawba: Robert L. Cook, Sr., class of 1938, and Curtis C. Cook, class of 1940.
Other Adrian L. Shuford, Jr. Award Recipients
Other recipients and the year in which they received the award include Dr. Theodore P. Leonard, 1983; Enoch A. Goodman, 1984; Clifford A. Peeler, 1985; James F. Hurley, 1986; Ralph W. Ketner, 1987; Elizabeth C. Stanback, 1988; Roy E. Leinbach, Jr., 1989; Frances H. Johnson, 1990; Patricia P. Rendleman, 1991; Mariam Cannon Hayes, 1992; Tom E. Smith, 1993; Claude S. Abernethy, Jr., 1994; Millard F. Wilson, 1995; Fred J. Stanback, Jr., 1996; Paul E. Fisher, 1997; Daniel E. Kirk, 1998; Mary O. Dearborn, 1999; Wilson L. Smith, 2000; Marion M. Richard, 2001; J. Fred and Bonnie Corriher, 2002; William C. Stanback, 2003; Jacqueline C. Leonard, 2004; Charles Taylor, Jr., 2005; Newton O. Fowler and C.A. "Junie" Michael III, 2006; Claude B. Hampton, Jr. and James L. Williamson, 2007; and Charles G. Potts, Wade Hampton Shuford, Jr. and Dr. Robert E. and Brenda S. Knott, 2008.
PHOTOS: President's Circle Dinner 2009