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J. Michael Cook, 72, Durham, NC, Formerly of Wellsville


J. Michael Cook, 72, died unexpectedly at home, on the night of July 26,2021 in Durham, North Carolina. He was born on October 1,1948 in the town of Wellsville, New York to the late Michael and Jane Cook.

Mike grew up in Wellsville, a town that was near and dear to his heart. He always fondly told stories of growing up and all the people he loved. He attended Wellsville High School where he was a member of the wrestling, football, and tennis teams. He graduated valedictorian of his class in 1966.  He attended Cornell University but later earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Alfred University, and went on to earn his PhD in cell biology from the University of Virginia.

He married his wife, Gail, in 1972, and spent fifty wonderful years with her. The two went on many adventures together and had many stories to tell that usually ended in laughter. They had two children Kevin and Kimi Cook, whom they cherished. The pair shared a love of the outdoors, birding, and a love of live music and travel. They were often spotted at the Blue Note Grill in Durham taking in the blues music.

Mike worked in the flow cytometry department at Duke University Medical Center for 34 years. In 2003 he was promoted to department manager. He was often seen on his bicycle, and his favorite way to commute was to ride the American Tobacco Trail. His lab was easily recognizable due to his extensive Elvis Presley memorabilia collection. He loved Duke and was always excited to cheer on the Blue Devils basketball team.

He had a deep love of sports, and never missed an opportunity to coach his children’s sports teams. He was a member of the DSA (Durham School of the Arts) athletic booster club, and the DSA Dads, an organization that did small facility improvement projects around the school. The DSA Dads became his best friends, and they continued to meet every Friday morning for breakfast long after their children had graduated. This is a group that he cherished.

Mike fully immersed himself into every community he was a part of. He was extremely friendly and talked cheerfully to everyone he saw. He will be most remembered for his dry humor, his kindness, his resourcefulness, his boundless curiosity, and his intelligence.  One Wellsville person commented years ago, “If you can’t get along with Mike Cook, you can’t get along with anyone.”

Michael Cook is survived by his wife Gail, his daughter Kimi, his brother Brian, sister Kathy and brother Alan.  Mike is preceded in death by his son Kevin, his father, Michael and his mother, Jane.  He will be sorely missed by all who knew him well.

There will be a memorial service at the end of August in his hometown of Wellsville, NY. More details to follow.  In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the public radio station WTJU in Charlottesville Virginia: or to the David A. Howe Library in Wellsville.

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