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Remembering Eleanor “Jo” Cook

Published In: Miscellaneous

The beloved matriarch of Cook’s Pest Control, Inc. passed away on Monday, December 7, 2020, age 92, at her home surrounded by family.

Mrs. Cook’s desire throughout her adult life was to serve the Lord Jesus Christ and to share her Savior’s love with others.

Born September 21, 1928, in Atlanta, Georgia, Eleanor Elizabeth “Jo” was the only child of James and Lola Mitcham.

After graduating from Commercial High School in Atlanta, she met John Robert Cook, who was enlisted in the Navy and served during World War II in Atlanta, Georgia, and the South Pacific until discharged in 1946. On July 12, 1946, they married.

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 1965, with a desire to share their faith, Mr. and Mrs. Cook began hosting a weekly Bible study, from which First Bible Church of Decatur was established. John and Jo were charter members, serving in various capacities through the years. During the 1970s and 1980s, they were lay staff members with Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) and hosted a high school ministry in their home. Jo was an excellent Bible teacher. In 2014 she wrote a study guide, Molded by the Potter’s Hand, which she used with Neighborhood Christian Center’s jail ministry to women.

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.

Mrs. Cook is survived by her son John Robert (Lyn) Cook, Jr., grandson Brian (Leslie) Cook, great-grandson John Davis Cook, and two great-granddaughters, Nora Jean Cook and Virginia Kate Cook, all of Decatur. A dear cousin, Gladys Mitcham Cook, resides near Atlanta.

She was preceded in death by her parents, husband of 62 years, and infant son James Lewis Cook.

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