Gardnerville leader, retired Marine Tom Cook dead at 83
Former Gardnerville Town Board Chairman Tom Cook often described himself as born in Missouri and raised in Kansas, but the retired Marine master gunnery sergeant who saw combat at Korea’s Chosen Reservoir was a leader in improving the town he called home.
Cook died Thursday at Carson-Tahoe Hospital. He was 83.
A career Marine, Cook served on the Gardnerville Town Board for 16 years before term limits ended his tenure. As chairman, Cook ran some of the fastest meetings in Carson Valley. In 2004, he was named Nevada’s public official of the year by the Nevada League of Cities and Municipalities.
Born in Bogard, Mo., Sept. 27, 1929, and raised in Kansas, Cook joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1948, in time for the Korean War to break out in 1950.
Cook was in the 1st Marine Brigade at the Chosin Reservoir on Nov. 27, 1950, when the Chinese Army invaded during the Korean War. He served in Vietnam and rose to the rank of master gunnery sergeant before his retirement, playing the trumpet in the Marine Corps Band when he was not engaged in combat.
After the Korean War, he married Barbara J. Cook on April 24, 1954.
He and his family moved to Topaz Lake in Douglas County after he retired from the Marine Corps in 1970.
Cook worked with John Arden on the Fairfield Ranch and the development of Topaz Ranch Estates.
The Cooks moved to Carson Valley in 1976, where Tom worked with the Carson Valley Lions Club. In 1980, Barbara won a seat on the Douglas County Board of Commissioners, serving until her death on Feb. 6, 1991.
Cook was elected to the Gardnerville Town Board in 1994 and served until the end of his term in 2010. During that time, the town built Heritage Park and the Martin Slough.
He married wife Rosella May Towner on July 24, 2003.
He has served on the Nevada League of Cities and Municipalities Board with numerous terms as the league’s third vice president and the Douglas County Regional Transportation Commission. He also served as vice chairman on the Nevada Rural Housing Authority.
He was a charter life member of the Blind Center of Nevada. His interest in youth led to the creation of the Thomas J. Cook Fellowship to recognize outstanding support for the Lions Club Student Speakers Contest.
He is survived by wife Rose, sister Sue Harmon of Lawrence, Kan.; daughters Tammy (Marine Col. Thomas) Duhs, Laura Towner (Jim Jackson) and Wendy Hall; sons Thomas Michael Cook and Douglas Towner (Stephen Mergenmeier); grandchildren Amy (Jason)Schommer; Marine Capt. Thomas Matthew (Emily) Duhs, Cassandra Hall and Madison Hall.
He was preceded in death by wife Barbara, daughter Kathleen Jo, and brother Alex.
A memorial service will be held at a date to be determined. Donations may be made in his name to Lions District 46 Student Speakers Foundation Inc., 4450 Meadow Wood Road, Carson City, NV 89703.