Friday, July 12, 2024

Michael Anthony Cook, Sr.

Michael Anthony Cook, Sr., 75, passed away peacefully at his home in Blairstown early Sunday morning February 4, 2024 surrounded by his loving family.

Born on October 3, 1948 in Newark to Harold and Viola Cook, Michael was the youngest of five children. Michael spent his early childhood growing up in Brooklyn, New York until the family moved to Blairstown when he was 13 years old. Michael graduated from Blairstown High School in 1966 and attended Churchman’s Business School in Easton, Pennsylvania where he met his wife Beverly (Pleiss) Cook. Michael and Beverly also had five children.

With a proclivity for business and an entrepreneurial spirit, Mike became a pioneer in the natural products industry. In 1977, Mike and Bev founded Nature’s Harvest in Blairstown, a natural food and vitamin store, and subsequently opened additional locations in Nazareth and Emmaus, Pennsylvania. The store in Blairstown still stands today and is an important part of the downtown community. With a vision to make natural products mainstream and accessible to everyone, Mike later went into the food brokerage business with the idea of putting natural foods and vitamins into conventional supermarkets up and down the east coast. His most notable professional success was realized when he co-founded a company in 1989 called Natural Specialties, Inc., a natural products brokerage headquartered in Blairstown. Subsequently, this company grew to be the number one brokerage sales and marketing agency in the natural foods industry. After being highly instrumental in the explosive growth of natural products, Natural Specialties was sold in 2001 to the largest mainstream food brokerage, Acosta Sales and Marketing. Mike subsequently led the company through several Natural Specialty acquisitions, and it remains number one in that space today. His most gratifying career pinnacle was that all five of his children, and some of his grandchildren, are involved with and working in the industry he loved for so many years.

With all his success in business, Mike’s true legacy is his family. Mike and Bev have four sons Michael Jr.; Mark; Jeremy; and Jared; one daughter Jessica; 12 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. All of Mike’s hard work was done with the goal in mind of having the means to bring the family together and create something that would benefit his posterity for generations to come. Mike loved to do so many things including bringing the family together for barbecues, boating, trips to their condos in Florida and Mexico, fishing, traveling, real estate investing, dancing to oldies music and watching old Westerns with his children and grandchildren.

Mike was a longtime faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, having been baptized in 1972. He served the church, its members and the community in many ways over the years. After retirement, Mike and Bev served as full-time temple workers in the Orlando Florida Temple, full-time missionaries in the Pennsylvania Philadelphia Mission, and full-time managers of the Piscataway Bishop’s Storehouse distributing food and supplies throughout the New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York region during the time of unprecedented demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout his entire life, he was stalwart in keeping his commitments. At the time of his passing, he was serving as the elder’s quorum president in the Sparta ward, presiding over the adult men and ministering to members of his ward. He truly believed and lived his faith’s teachings that the family can be eternal and continue after this life, looking forward with hope to a glorious resurrection and to be reunited with them in the eternities.

Mike was predeceased by his parents Harold and Viola Cook; his twin sisters Jeanie and Helen Brown; and his two brothers Robert Brown and Harold Cook. He leaves behind his beloved wife of 56 years, Beverly; his children Michael Jr.; Mark; Jessica Barker (Jesse); Jeremy (Kristy); Jared (Alyssa); his grandchildren Amanda; Peter; Ashley Gower (Marty); Cori Cook (Jose); Kelsey; Corinne; Tanner; Jane; Caden; Channing; Carson; and Lilliana; and his great-grandchildren Isaiah; Arianna; Zachary; Matthew; Dante; Jalius; Jayden and Emery.

Visitation will be held at Newbaker Funeral Home in Blairstown on Thursday, February 8, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and again from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.. Services will be held at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints located at 95 Pinkneyville Rd, Sparta on Friday, February 9, at 10 a.m.. Mike would tell us all not to spend money on flowers for him, but instead consider making a donation to the Humanitarian Aid Fund, the church’s charitable organization providing aid to people around the world without regard to cultural or religious affiliation. One hundred percent of every dollar donated is used to provide relief to those in need, and also help people attain self-sufficiency so they can be self-reliant long after the humanitarian project ends. Donations can be made online at philanthropies.churchofjesuschrist.org/humanitarian-services (click “Make a Gift To Humanitarian”) or by sending a check to Humanitarian Services c/o LDS Philanthropies, 1450 N. University Avenue, Provo, UT 84604.