Obituaries

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Michael Cook

August 1, 1947 - October 11, 2019

Visitation: 5 p.m. Thursday, October 17, 2019 at St. Andrew Catholic Church with a Vigil beginning at 6 p.m.

Mass of Christian Burial: 10 a.m. Friday, October 18, 2019 at St. Andrew Catholic Church.

Burial: Greenwood Memorial Park.

Memorials: Should friends desire, gifts in Mike’s memory may be made to:

Knights of Columbus Council 9868
c/o William Gigl, Financial Secretary
8424 Orleans Lane
Fort Worth, TX 76123

National Right to Life
1446 Duke Street
Alexandria, VA 22314

Green hat. Green thumb. Heart of gold. These words encompass the life of William Michael Cook Sr., and yet, there is so much left to say about the patriarch of the Cook family and the founder of Mike’s Garden Center.

William Michael Cook died on Friday, October 11, 2019. He was 72 years old.

Mike was born in Temple, TX on August 1, 1947, to William and Betty Cook. From the ripe age of 12, Mike always had a passion for plants. He spent his summers working at Blaylock’s Nursery, and later at Wolfe Nursery in high school. He attended Jesuit and Bryan Adams in Dallas. He then moved to Lubbock and studied Horticulture and Business at Texas Tech University, where he met the love of his life. He married Donna Burnard on August 25, 1967. They have five incredible children, William Michael Jr., Jennifer, Matthew, Jill, and Maxwell. He acquired his first job far from the greenhouses of his childhood. Wolfe Nurseries hired Mike out of the TTU Horticulture Department as the assistant manager for the storefront located on Spur 303. Over the next decade, Mike continued to move up the ladder as a store manager, buyer, etc. By patiently gaining enough experience and expertise, Mike built the existing Fort Worth location of Mike’s Garden Center on 5703 Crowley Road in 1974. It was here that Mike founded his large and ever-growing work family. Many have claimed that Mike’s Garden Center is a haven for second chances and a place to call home. A handful of his employees have been with Mike’s Garden Center for decades. Mike was proud of his weekly newspaper ads that he, in fact, authored himself. Few can forget the “cow poo-poo fertilizer” ads. His successes were many and attracted the eye of the corporate world. For a time, Sunbelt Nurseries bought out Mike’s Garden Center simply to acquire Mike’s expertise and unique business approach. The corporate world was kind to Mike, where he was named assistant to the president for Sunbelt, and later, executive vice president. However, Mike never forgot his greenhouse roots and passion for owning his own business once again. He eventually exited the corporate realm and returned to 5703 Crowley Road, reigniting Mike’s Garden Center, and opened an additional store in Southlake. As a certified nurseryman, Mike served as the Vice President of region 5 of the Texas Association of Nurserymen for many years.

Mike was a council member for Knights of Columbus council 2813 for decades of his life. He was incredibly involved in the group and was instrumental in installing and maintaining a soccer complex on Columbus Trail in south Fort Worth. He also was a terrific hitter and a “Pete Rose slider” for the KoC softball team for years. Although Mike was an outstanding athlete, he served his community and his five children as an exceptional coach for the Bushwackers, Champions, Celtics, and so on. Through coaching, Mike instilled a love for sports and a competitive spirit within each Cook child.

Mike and Donna sent all five of their children to St. Andrew Catholic School and Nolan Catholic High School. This points to Mike’s passion and devotion to Catholic education. He exercised various roles at St. Andrew and Nolan, from the Bingo caller at the St. Andrew Fall Festival, to the president of the booster club and president of the stadium-building committee at Nolan. Nolan’s landscaping needs are still met by Mike’s Garden Center today. The Sisters of Our Lady of Victory Convent always felt Mike’s love and support. Never did they see a Christmas season without poinsettias from Mike’s Garden Center. Mike was an avid supporter of the National Right to Life, the nation’s largest and oldest pro-life organization. He was a patriot through and through.

Above all else, Mike was a family man. As the fearless leader of the Cook family, complete with his five children, twenty grandchildren, and countless pets, Mike set the ideal example of what it meant to be a caring, compassionate, and welcoming Catholic. He never met a stranger. Mike could reel anyone in with a witty joke or an amusing one-liner. He left a legacy for his family and small-business owners. Back in 1988, Mike was asked his advice for success. He answered, “In the nursery business, it’s having the right item at the right price at the right time. Other than that, success involves hard work. There’s no other way.” Mike was a grower; he could grow anything. He spent his life growing trees like he grew his family. On Friday, Mike died doing what he loved, working in his chair at his office wearing his Batman shirt and his famous green Mike’s Garden Center hat. He will be dearly and deeply missed.

He is preceded in death by his parents, William and Betty Cook, and his brother, Daniel Cook.

He is survived by his wife, Donna Burnard Cook, his children Mike and Mia Cook, Jennifer and Greg Kimmel, Matthew and Susan Cook, Jill and Joel Raymond, and Max and Leah Cook, his 20 grandchildren and his siblings, Teresa Cook, Marilyn Eckenrode, Cynthia Hauser, Patrick Cook, Mary Frances Packard, Jeanette Knight, and Julia Abshire.