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COOK, THOMAS A.

COOK, THOMAS A. (7 January 1912 - 25 Nov. 1996) was a businessman and civic activist. He was born in Montgomery, Alabama, to Montry and Daisy Cook. The family moved to Chicago, where Cook's mother died, then to Cleveland in 1917. He graduated from Central High School, then joined a side show band with the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus, working summers as a trumpeter. In 1933 he played at the Chicago Century of Progress Exposition, joining the musicians union there. He then played in the marching band of the Ohio State University, where he graduated in 1936. He attended law school at the University of Michigan for one year, then became a postal clerk. During World War II, he served in Europe as Army first lieutenant. After the war, he joined his father in the asphalt business, helping to launch Cook Paving and Construction Co. in 1950. Cook was a founder of the old Quincy Savings & Loan Association, and was one of the first black investors in a McDonald's franchise. He was a member of the Minority Business Enterprise Unit of Cleveland, the Ohio Contractors Association, and the Cleveland Engineering Society. He was a life member of the NAACP, and a member of the Urban League of Greater Cleveland, Karamu House, the Double Exposure camera club, Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and the Citizens League. Cook chaired the buildings and grounds committee of Plymouth Church of Shaker Heights. He served as trustee of the Glenville YMCA, St. Luke's Hospital, the Western Reserve Historical Society, and the Cleveland International Program. Cook and his wife, the former Carriebell Johnson whom he married in in Columbus, were avid supporters of the program, hosting foreign students in their Shaker Heights home, many of whom they later visited on travels abroad. He died at the Somerset Pointe nursing home in Shaker Heights. He is buried in Highland Park Cemetery.