Father, Educator, Farmer, Leader, Veteran, Faithful Navigator, Story Teller, Proud Mohawk Elder. These are just a few of the single word adjectives that describe and define the life of a Solomon Cook who passed away in Cornwall Community Hospital with family and friends at his side on April 1, 2014.
Solomon was born at home in Akwesasne to Angus and Mary Ann McDonald Cook, prosperous farmers. He labored hard while attending school at Massena, New York. In 1938, Dr. Cook enrolled at Cornell University, paying his own way, by doing housework and chores for the family that provided board.
After graduating and returning home briefly, Dr. Cook cancelled his draft deferment and entered service in 1944 with the U.S. Navy. He served as an instrument technician on the USS Vulcan and saw duty in the Pacific Theater, entering Hiroshima shortly after VJ Day.
Upon returning to his young wife, Mary (nee Jacobs), Solomon enrolled in the Masters program at Cornell and subsequently became the first Native American to earn a Ph.D. from Cornell. After completion of studies, Dr. Cook taught and conducted agricultural research at South Dakota State University, Brookings, returned to New York and taught at Barker High School, and in 1954 established Marian Farms in Akwesanse where he lived and prospered until his death. In addition, Dr. Cook was a teacher and guidance counselor for Salmon River, always proud of his students that went on to prosperous lives. From 1978 to 1989 he served on the College Council at SUNY Canton and established the “Dr. Solomon Cook Scholarship” endowment in 1997. Solomon also served as a St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Chief from 1977-1980.
Sadly – his beautiful and faithful wife of 51 years, Mary, passed away in 1997. He fondly recalled their life together at her funeral service.
During a long, happy and prosperous life Dr. Cook received many honors and accolades including: Charter Member American Legion Post #1479 (Andrew W. Cook Post), founding Charter Member Father Michael Jacobs Knights of Columbus Council; Kateri Tekakwitha Award, and Outstanding Alumni Award, Cornell University.
Dr. Cook will always be remembered for his great intellect, generosity, detailed memory of names, events, plant horticulture, tribal culture and lore, and curiosity; and he loved to tell a tale. He was very proud of his students and protégés and was often called upon for sage and wise counsel regarding farming, life and business. He was a fervent proponent of education as a transformative process, and backed it up with financial and moral support throughout his life.
Solomon is survived by his sister, Celia Conlin (late Frank); two daughters, Beverly Graywater (Kenneth), Fort Totten, ND, and Michele Cook, MD (Ed Mrozinski), Youngstown, NY; and sister-in-law, Louise Cook (late Joseph). In addition, many nieces, nephews, cousins, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren that he cherished, loved and supported and who supported him, also survive.
Predeceasing him, beside his parents were Christine Dempsey (late Bernard), Lillian Palmer (late Sid), Ann Parry (late Bill), and Jimmy (late Nancy), and John.
The family wishes to honor Solomon’s legacy of supporting education by encouraging contributions to the “Dr. Solomon Cook Scholarship”, Canton College Foundation, 34 Cornell Drive, Canton, New York, 13617-1096.
“The best chief is not the one who persuades people to his point of view. It is instead the one in whose presence most people find it easiest to arrive at the truth.”
Nia:wen, Te honie ien
The family will be receiving callers at Kateri Hall, Akwesasne, beginning Thursday 7:00 PM until 10:00 AM Saturday. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Saturday 11:00 AM at St. Regis Catholic Church with Rev. Anthony Osuji, celebrating. Burial will be later in the spring in St. Joseph’s Cemetery, Akwesasne.
Arrangements are with the Donaldson Funeral Home, Massena, where memories and condolences may be shared online at www.donaldsonfh.com.