William Richard Cook was born June 30, 1921, in Salt Lake City, UT to William Arthur Cook and Florence Marie Corbett. He was the oldest of five children.
Bill grew up in South Salt Lake on 83 West 2400 South. He graduated from Granite High School in 1938.
When Pearl Harbor was bombed, Bill was working at Lockheed Aircraft in Southern California building wingtips for P-38s. He tried to join the Navy, but because he was working in an essential wartime industry, he was turned down. Eventually a draft notice came from the army. Bill reported for active duty on October 20, 1942, assigned to the Army Airforce.
Bill completed Airplane Mechanic School at Sheppard Field, TX; Aviation Cadet School at San Antonio, TX; Gunnery School at Arlington, TX; and Flight Engineer School at Casper, WY. He was a tech sergeant, assigned as a flight engineer on a B-24 bomber.
On his first bombing mission, Bill saw the lead airplane, carrying a crew of ten men, including their commanding officer, go down in flames. Several other airplanes were also destroyed.
After that, he didn’t think there was any chance of filling the 50 missions he was required to complete. He said, “I just went up, did my job, and came back. . . . I thought I was dead.”
Bill completed his missions and received an Honorable Discharge from the army on August 12, 1945, three days before the Japanese surrendered. He earned five Air Medals, four Oak Leaf Clusters, and two Distinguished Flying Crosses.
Bill met Idonna Hunt while on furlough in Salt Lake City. They were married on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 1945, in Elko, NV. Their marriage was sealed for time and eternity in the Manti Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on June 11, 1946.
They raised their family in Salt Lake City, Sandy and Blanding, UT.
Bill was a trooper with the Utah Highway Patrol. When he retired, his crew gave him a plaque that read: “To our sergeant, Bill Cook, the most honest man we know.”
Bill loved fishing and hunting, and was always building, fixing or tinkering with something. He repaired engines, rebuilt wrecked cars and resold them, built numerous boats and campers, and constructed two cabins and five homes from the ground up.
In 1981, when the family moved to Blanding, Bill built their home on the west end of 5th South. That home is now the LDS Institute building on the Utah State University—Eastern campus.
Bill was a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He and Idonna served two missions: one in Nauvoo, IL, and one at the book bindery at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City.
They also served for five years in the White Mesa branch on the Ute Mountain Ute reservation, and Bill served a one-year mission in Mexican Hat, UT.
Bill was preceded in death by one brother, two sisters, and three grandchildren.
He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Idonna Hunt Cook; eight children: Lou (Phil) Mueller, Blanding; Bill (Karen) Cook, Sandy, UT; Freda (Doug) Smith, Herriman, UT; Tom (Barbara) Cook, Sandy, UT; Donna (Paul) Brown, Woodland, UT; Wendy (John) Clark, Bountiful, UT; Terry (Jacque) Cook, Cortez, CO; Loren (Sonia) Cook, South Jordan, UT; one sister, Shirley Lanier, Las Vegas, NV; 29 grandchildren and 56 great-grandchildren.
Funeral services were held June 16, 2014 at the Blanding LDS North Chapel. Bill was laid to rest in the Blanding Cemetery.
Card of thanks
The family of Bill Cook wishes to thank all those who served our husband and father during his recent decline. Special thanks to Dr. Josh Nielson, Dr. Val Jones, and the nurses, therapists and staff at Blue Mountain Hospital and Four Corners Care Center.
We appreciate the many acts of kindness performed by mom and dad’s neighbor, Sherry Redd, and the care and attention of Bishop Alan Ward, sisters of the Fifth Ward Relief Society, and faithful home and visiting teachers.
We are grateful to Trooper Charlie Taylor for arranging a tribute from the Utah Highway Patrol that included a 1950s vintage patrol car to lead the funeral procession and a 21 gun salute.
We extend a special thank you to Linda Larson and Danny Palmer for your thoughtful, tender care of our husband and father at the end.
Phil & Lou Mueller
Bill & Karen Cook
Doug & Freda Smith
Tom & Barbara Cook
Paul & Donna Brown
John & Wendy Clark
Dr. Terry & Jacque Cook
Loren and Sonia Cook