Former Tigard First Lady's many volunteer efforts touched entire community

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Pam Cook and her husband John have dedicated themselves to a lifetime of service in Tigard at St. Anthony Catholic Church and in the community. Pam Cook died Nov. 11 after a two-year battle with pulmonary fibrosis.Cook Park in Tigard may have been named in recognition of her husband, but it could have easily been named for Pansy “Pam” Lucille Cook.

Cook, an outspoken community activist and familiar face at a variety of community events, died Nov. 11 after a two-year battle with pulmonary fibrosis. She was 83.

Cook was former First Lady of Tigard and a fixture at St. Anthony Catholic Church on Pacific Highway.

Born April 26, 1929, to Frank and Katie Spohn, she grew up in Walla Walla, Wash., before attending Seattle University. She worked briefly at an airplane manufacturing plant in California and volunteered for the Catholic USO, dancing with service men, before eventually moving to Tigard in 1955, where she got a job at a Motes drug store on Southwest Main Street.

It was there that she met pharmacist John E. Cook, whom she married two years later.

The couple went on to open Cook’s Tigard Pharmacy on Pacific Highway, which they ran for 25 years. They had two children, Julie and John Jr.

After the pharmacy closed, John E. Cook ran for public office and served as mayor of Tigard from 1984 to 1986 with the support of his wife.

A strong-willed woman, Mrs. Cook had a passion for education and her church, volunteering at St. Anthony Catholic School for 10 years as the school’s physical education teacher, as well as serving on St. Anthony’s School Board and as president of its parents club.

The family became regular fixtures in the St. Anthony community, and Mrs. Cook dedicated herself to various groups and organizations around the area for much of her life.

Cook was always involved in something, her son John L. Cook said.

“I remember even as a child going to a community center in North Portland around Christmas time,” her son said. “She took me over there, and we passed out gifts to the children. She was always involved in something, and not just in Tigard, but pretty much anywhere in the community.”

She and her husband ran the church’s Bingo nights for 30 years. She served as co-chair on capital campaigns for the church, building a new gymnasium and O’Reilly Hall in 2003.

She also served as co-chair of the church’s current fundraising campaign until her health deteriorated. The building fund is raising money to build a new community center at the church next year.

“She was just a wonderful person,” said Anne Robinson, the church’s capital campaign coordinator who worked with Cook on several efforts. “She always had a kind word for everyone.”

Cook also volunteered at the St. Anthony fair weather shelter for area homeless and served as a secretary for the Tigard Conference St. Vincent de Paul food bank.

Outside of her church, Cook ran the district polling station at Twality Junior High during elections and was an avid leader in 4-H groups, teaching sewing, knitting and cooking.

She was a mainstay during the Tigard Town and Country Days, an annual celebration held each summer for years, and served as a member of the Tigard Auxiliary American Legion and TOPS.

She was also an active member of the Tigard Area Chamber of Commerce, winning the Jim Hartman “From the Heart” award for volunteerism in 1994.

Earlier this month, Cook’s son John L. Cook, was elected mayor of Tigard, attaining the same office his father held nearly 30 years ago.

Mrs. Cook, who was in a care facility for the past two years, wasn’t able to say much during the last several days of her life. However, her last words to her son were telling him congratulations after he won the election, John L. Cook recalled.

He said his mother was involved in so many community groups and events that it was hard to put a finger on one thing she will be remembered for. They remember her for all the different things she did.

“Some people remember her work with elections or teaching people to square dance in the sixth grade. They all have a different memory of her,” he said. “It wasn’t one theme that came out of that — it was multiple.”

Cook is survived by her husband, John E. Cook; daughter, Julie Le; and son, John L. Cook; as well as four grandchildren, Sean and Anna Le and Ryan and Shawna Cook.

A memorial mass was held Saturday at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Tigard.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Anthony’s building fund for the new community center. To donate to the building fund visit the parish website

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