Colleen C. Cook of Pittsboro, NC, died at the Parkview Health and Rehabilitation Center on Thursday, October 7, 2021. She lived a full life with Parkinson’s Disease for over 25 years; her death came one day shy of her 75th birthday.
The daughter of the late Robert Dugan and Pauline Senita Dugan, she was born on October 8, 1946, in Mount Vernon, NY. Colleen graduated from Maria Regina High School, Elizabeth Seton College, and Hunter College, and married Peter Cook in 1966. After college, she and Peter joined the Peace Corps, volunteering in Ghana at the Anfoega Teacher Training College, where she taught English, started a drama club, and was the librarian from 1968 to 1970. Returning home by way of trekking across Europe with Peter for six months, she earned a Master’s degree in library science from the University at Albany. She worked as a library media specialist for 35 years in Orange County, NY, at Warwick Valley High School and Minisink Valley High School, retiring in 2006. After their retirements, she and Peter moved to Fearrington Village in Pittsboro, NC, in 2012.
In addition to her loving husband of 55 years, Peter Cook at home, she is survived by her two sons, Ian Cook and his spouse Amanda Barnes Cook of Carrboro, NC, and Graham Cook of Boulder, CO, and two grandchildren, Simon and Elliot Cook. She is further survived by six siblings—Donna and Ken Alleyne-Chin of Montara, CA; James Dugan of Palm Coast, FL; Timothy and Barbara Dugan of Valhalla, NY; Robert and Carol Dugan of New Kensington, PA; Theresa and Glen Vahjen of Fortson, GA; and Thomas Dugan of Cortland, NY—a sister-in-law, Susan Cook of Stamford, CT, eighteen nieces and nephews, many lifelong friends she counted as dear family, and a puppy, Tucker.
Colleen’s sweet demeanor hid a sharp wit that was the constant delight of her friends. She was inquisitive, always eager to learn and to hear others’ stories, and tenacious, always hard at work to realize her designs, undeterred by any obstacle. Mrs. Cook was a respected librarian; in addition to a place of learning, her library was a safe space for countless students (and colleagues) who needed a respite from the high school battles they waged outside her library doors. Her library and her home were gathering places for her sons and their friends; she managed the often-sought but rarely achieved feat of creating spaces where her teenage children and their friends actually wanted to gather. A librarian at home as well as at work, she could often be found popping out of her seat at the dinner table to pull out a reference tome to fact-check a discussion (or, in later years, asking Alexa—library media specialists must keep up with current research modalities!). A brilliant gardener, she created flourishing green spaces wherever she went, indoors or out, decorative or vegetable. She was a consummate entertainer who loved having friends and family in her home; even after she moved to NC, Colleen’s lifelong friends were drawn to visit, knowing her home was always open to them, and easily continuing their relationships despite the distance. Colleen was most herself when, chatting and chopping, she prepared delicious food alongside her loved ones; the kitchen she and Pete shared was a place of love and nourishment for all who knew her.
The family will hold a celebration of Colleen’s life on Saturday, October 23, 2021 in Pittsboro, NC. For details, please contact the family.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make a contribution in Colleen’s memory to a charity dedicated to reducing global poverty, such as Give Directly, Heifer International, or Oxfam International.
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