Eleanor “Jo” Cook, matriarch of Decatur, Ala.-based Cook’s Pest Control, passed away Dec. 7 at age 92. She was at home and surrounded by family.
A native of Atlanta, Ga., she married Pest Management Professional Hall of Famer John R. Cook Sr. (Class of 2015) in 1946, after he was discharged from the U.S. Navy. They were married for 62 years until John’s death in 2009. Per an obituary for Jo posted by the company:
Jo worked as a secretary while John studied architecture at Georgia Tech, graduating in 1950. That same year, after the death of his father, John gave up his dream of a career in architecture and returned to Decatur to fulfill termite guarantees for the family business, North Alabama Termite Company, later renamed Cook’s Pest Control. Under his leadership and with his wife’s help, Cook’s grew from one full-time employee and only a few accounts to become one of the largest pest control companies in the United States. In 2001, Cook’s Pest Control, Inc. won the Better Business Bureaus’ National Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics.
Mr. and Mrs. Cook built Cook’s Natural Science Museum in 1980 as a place to share the wonder of God’s creation with the public. On June 7, 2019, Mrs. Cook and her family opened the newly created Cook Museum of Natural Science in downtown Decatur.
When Decatur Heritage Christian Academy was established in 1995, Mr. and Mrs. Cook joined others in freely offering their time and resources in support of academic excellence in Christian education. Globally, they led mission trips to Moldova and Ukraine. Mrs. Cook served on the Auxiliary Board of Directors for Titus International.
In addition to being charter members of the First Bible Church of Decatur, and longtime lay staff members with Campus Crusade for Christ, the Cooks were also active in their community. Per Cook’s Pest Control:
Mrs. Cook served the community through the Civitan Auxiliary, the Decatur General Auxiliary (now Decatur Morgan Hospital), the Junior League of Morgan County, Business and Professional Women’s Club, and as area representative for Christian Women’s Club.
In 2008, Mr. and Mrs. Cook’s life story was recorded in the book, Employee Number 2: The Story of John Cook and Cook’s Pest Control. In 2012, Columbia International University awarded Mrs. Cook an honorary doctorate. The Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce honored her with the ATHENA Leadership Award at their Women in Business Celebration on October 1, 2019.
In lieu of flowers, the Cook family requests that memorial contributions be made to Neighborhood Christian Center or Decatur Heritage Christian Academy. The staff of PMP magazine offers its condolences to her family, friends and colleagues. Our 2016 Women in Pest Management profile on Mrs. Cook is here.