The Life of Albert George Cook
Albert George Cook III died on December 16, 2018 of acute kidney failure at Goodwin House in Alexandria, Virginia. Cook enjoyed an amazing career but would be the first to say that he didn’t plan any of it. He always said he simply worked hard to take care of his family.
Working for Colonial Parking was always supposed to be a temporary job. In 1956 George Cook joined the then five-year-old parking company founded by his Sigma Nu fraternity brothers, as undergraduate at George Washington University painting stripes on parking lots. He continued working summers as a facilities manager while in law school. In 1993, Cook retired as President and Chief Executive Officer of Colonial Parking, Inc.
Cook’s civic career also had an unlikely start. In 1963 he was part of a successful effort to end the Alexandria’s poll tax when he and several others sued the City of Alexandria to eliminate this electoral barrier for all the people of Alexandria.
Cook was elected to the Alexandria City Council in 1969. He won a special election in 1969, a full term in 1970 and was appointed to fill a vacancy in 1975. During his tenure Alexandria developed the three critically important blocks of King Street creating Market Square, Tavern Square and Banker’s Square. Cook was on the council that grappled with the, often conflicting, needs of merchants, developers, residents and historic preservationists. In 1970, Cook represented the city in breaking ground for the Washington Metropolitan Area’s nascent metro.
The 1970’s were also a time of racial turbulence in Alexandria as the city addressed integrating public schools. Cook was on the City Council during TC William’s statewide football victory commemorated in the 2000 movie “Remember the Titans.”
After managing Linwood Holton’s successful gubernatorial campaign, Cook was appointed to George Mason University’s inaugural Board of Visitors. On that team he oversaw the split from the University of Virginia, chose Mason’s first president and marched in the university’s first commencement in 1972 - - held in a Fairfax High School gym. Cook returned to Mason in 1994 as a distinguished fellow at the Institute of Public Policy teaching public policy to graduate students. He also chaired the Student Affairs committee and the Faculty Academic Standards Committee.
George Cook was born in 1933 in Annapolis, Maryland to Captain Albert George Cook Jr and Harriet Graham Scales Cook. As a “navy junior” Cook lived in several parts of the country before his father retired in San Francisco in the early 1950’s. A birth injury prevented him from following his father, grandfather and uncles to the Naval Academy. While considering alternate careers, he studied at Menlo College and worked as a forest ranger. That job resulted in a life-long love of the wilderness and horseback riding and his financial support of The Nature Conservancy and Rails to Trails. At the urging of his parents, however, he moved to Washington DC with the idea of Foreign Service or law school.
While there was never a plan to stay in the area or pursue a commercial career, Cook stayed in the area for 63 years, built a tremendously successful business, shaped Alexandria’s history, presided on more than ten boards that ran the gamut from the Girl Scouts of the National Council, Alexandria Hospital, (where he oversaw the move to INOVA) and several bank boards and raised four children. George is survived by the love of his life for 61 years, Lou Cook, daughters Katherine Bennett Cook (of Alexandria) and Kelly Adair Cook (of West Hartford CT), sons Albert George Cook IV and William Bernard Cook. (both of Alexandria), and seven grandchildren now lining in Denver, Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Alexandria.
Cook was a member and lay leader at Our Lady Queen of Peace in Arlington Virginia.