The life of a very special manCarolyn Johnson, Bailey County Senior Center October 1, 2021 0 COMMENTS
Marshall Cook is 94 years old. He was born to Sears and Pauline Cook from the Hillsboro, TX area. The family moved to West Texas in the 1920s. Marshall was born in 1927 near Snyder, TX. As was typical at that time, the doctor came to the home to make the delivery. Marshall was the youngest of five children. To date, he is the sole survivor of his parents, his 3 sisters, and one brother.
Marshall lived on a farm where the state prison is now located near Snyder. The family moved between Ira and Dunn and he attended school at Ira until they moved to Colorado City. This is where he graduated from high school at the age of 16.
When he was 17, he joined “The Army Specialized Reserve Training Program.” He moved that fall to New Mexico A&M Engineering Program. Math was his weakest subject so he got out of that program and joined the Navy.
After Boot Camp in San Diego, Marshall went to the San Diego Hospital Corps School. After graduating from there, he was transferred to the Naval Hospital at Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
There was a cluster of military bases there at Portsmouth: Submarine Bases, Hospital Bases, and a Naval Prison Base, to name a few. Back in those days if active sailors committed crimes, they were put into prison.
At the Hospital Base in New Hampshire, Marshall received surgical training and training in anesthesiology. After the war, he worked in small hospitals for 20 years where he served as not only the Administrator, but also the anesthesiologist.
When Medicare came into action, the government required certification for one to become an anesthesiologist. Marshall gave up the anesthesiology at that time but continued to work as the hospital administrator. This is what brought him to Muleshoe.
At the time Marshall came to Muleshoe, there were two hospitals here. One was called Green Memorial Hospital and the other was West Plains Hospital. The two of them merged together and Marshall was Administrator of both. Prior to coming to Muleshoe, he was an Administrator at a small hospital and clinic in Lubbock. After leaving Muleshoe, he was Administrator of the hospital in Dimmitt.
Marshall married Lala Smith in 1946. She passed away on January 1st, 1995. They had 3 sons—David, James, & Wesley. David passed away in 1994. The three sons provided Marshall and Lala 4 beautiful grandchildren. Marshall told me that one high point in his life was attending the law school graduation for his son, James. Marshall was equally proud of Wesley who was a correctional officer at the prison in Plainview.
Marshall is a member of the First Methodist Church here in Muleshoe. He performs many functions here at the Church and has served on numerous committees. He is presently Head of the Lay Shepherd Committee. He has been the organist for over 30 years. He sings in the choir when he is not playing the organ. And for 20 years he has maintained all of the landscaped existing beds there.
When the church bought the Gulf Service Station right next door, Marshall planned and designed that space into a nice parking lot with large walk-ways and brick signs. I remember once, a Sunday School teacher told me that a Saint is one who makes goodness attractive. If that is true—then Marshall Cook may very well be a saint. Many times I have passed the church and have seen Marshall going about his business—trimming trees, planting flowers, and even picking up trash that our West Texas winds have blown on the grounds. He just goes about doing what needs to be done. I am challenged by his example of a servant leader.
My greatest amazement, however, is Marshall’s talent on the huge pipe organ at our church. Very few churches have a pipe organ. We have it because some former member years ago had a vision and acted on it. Marshall had a vision, too, but his vision was to learn to play that organ. He had played the piano since he was a high school kid and he always did it as a free service for the churches.
Marshall told me that Elaine Damron was the one who first suggested the pipe organ and promoted it. She was the first to play it in the church, followed by Jeremy Bruns. Marshall studied with Jeremy and another organist in Amarillo. And for the Last 30 years, Marshall has been playing that organ he once only dreamed of playing.
When I am in the church, I stop everything I am doing and just listen to his wonderful music. The sound is absolutely beautiful. He is also a master wood worker. He makes gorgeous pieces of furniture for his family and friends, but he also makes them for the church.
The greatest thing about Marshall is that he does not serve in order to be noticed or make himself look good. He serves because he is a Christian man who loves to help those in need and he performs acts of kindness to everyone he meets. Marshall will always be known to me and probably many others as the man with the talented hands, a loving heart, and a desire to make this world a better place.
Marshall has made a beautiful bench in our Church foyer. He has also presented the church with two lovely kneeling benches in the chapel. He designed and made a communion table for the church and a mini-podium for those who need height at the podium. He has also designed and made a closet storage in the fellowship hall.
Our Senior Citizens Center has been blessed, too, with Marshall’s talent and generosity. In our center, just about anything you see that is wood was made by Marshall. He designed and constructed our register booth to meet SPAG standards. He also designed and helped build a huge island in the kitchen. Of course, he wanted to give credit to the two men who helped with this major project: Fred Clements and Joe Sowder. He has also made two podiums and the wooden closure between the kitchen and the dining area.
I can’t list everything he has done for us at the center. He started his woodworking in the 70s. But he never did any of it for profit. He did for pure enjoyment and satisfaction of helping others. How fortunate we are to have Marshall in our community.
For information about this article, I asked Marshall, “What was the most rewarding thing you have ever done in your life?” His reply was so typical of the man, Marshall Cook. His answer, was simply, “The pleasure to work on committees for feeding the hungry and those in need.”
His first work in this area was the Food Pantry which is now distributing monthly. And, yes—Marshall is still a part of it. Marshall also works the “Snack Pack” program for needy school students.
The final thing of beauty we discussed in his present life was his lovely wife, Helen Mitchell Cook. He and Helen were married in 1997.
I asked how they got together and he answered, “I was fortunate to enroll in a Bible Study that she happened to be in. Her apartment was mid-way between my house and the church. It all started with me picking her up to go to Bible Study and to my delight, she ended up my wife!”
Marshall then added that I had played a role in promoting the marriage as I had invited each of them to the Johnson’s annual St. Patrick’s Party. I had invited them individually but I was thrilled to see them drive up together all dressed in green for their very first date. They both kissed the Blarney Stone we always had staged at the front door for good blessings. And they have truly been blessed with 24 wonderful years of marriage.
The peace and poise that Marshall displays in his daily life shows us he has lived well and he has no regrets. No doubt, when Marshall leaves this world for his heavenly home—he will definitely hear these words: “Well done, thy good and faithful servant.” Very well, indeed!