David Cook retired from the newspaper as editorial page editor in 1995. He continued to write his popular weekly “The Way It Was” column until September 2015.
The Ocala chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association will present its first Lifetime Achievement Award in Communications next week to David Cook, a retired Star-Banner editor and columnist, and noted historian.
“It was quite unexpected, but apparently I still have a fan or two,” Cook said. “It’s quite an honor and, at my age, three months shy of 90. It’s wonderful to be remembered – just wonderful.”
Cook retired from the newspaper as editorial page editor in 1995. He continued to write his popular weekly “The Way It Was” column until September 2015, when he stopped to help care for his wife, Mariam, who passed away in early 2016.
In telling readers about Cook’s last column, Editorial Page Editor Brad Rogers wrote: “For seven decades, David Cook’s words graced the pages of the Star-Banner — even before it was the Star-Banner. Mr. Cook started writing for the Ocala Evening Star when he was in high school. The Evening Star would eventually merge with the Morning Banner to become the Star-Banner, and Mr. Cook would go on to be a reporter, sports editor, city editor and, ultimately, the editor-in-chief of the paper.
“In more recent times, after he retired, he has maintained a weekly presence through his ‘The Way it Was’ column, in which Mr. Cook wrote about the people and events — both big and small — that shaped Ocala from its beginnings. It was more than a column, it was a chronicle of Ocala’s history. It was a job that Mr. Cook loved, and it showed. Along the way he literally wrote the book on Ocala’s history,” Rogers wrote.
Chapter President Lauren DeIorio said in a news release that Cook’s “legacy of ethical journalism and his position in this community as our de facto historian rightfully deserve to be recognized.”
Cook will be honored during the Wilton F. Martin Communicator of the Year and Mid-Florida Image awards event that will begin at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Marion County Extension Service Auditorium, 2232 NE Jacksonville Road, Ocala.
“I’ll be there going with my daughter, Maclyn Walker, who also will receive an award for her work with Heart of Florida,” Cook said.
Cook was nominated for the award by former Ocala Star-Banner staffer and current freelancer writer and budding author Marian Rizzo. Among the comments in her nomination were:
+ “In his work as a journalist, David Cook wove gems of history into his writing and helped his readers to never let go of the past as they moved into the future. David’s column, ‘The Way It Was,’ continued after his retirement and ran for 35 years with detailed expositions and a wealth of old photos, many of which were contributed by his readers.
+ “David brought back to life such pillars of the local community as Ross Allen, who ran a reptile exhibit at Silver…