Long time Montcalm Area Reading Council (MARC) board member and board member emeritus Bill Cook passed away on January 10th, 2018. Bill and his family were instrumental in funding and leading the Montcalm Adult Reading Council (later renamed to Montcalm Area Reading Council) in the early days of the organization; the non-profit was formed in 1986. The Cook family understood the powerful impact that literacy skills have on individual lives as well as entire communities.
Bill was dedicated to making literacy assistance available in the greater Montcalm county community. Bill was one of a group that initially visualized providing literacy assistance at no cost, to any that needed it. Bill was very aware of the power of one-on-one personal relationships and was a strong advocate for one-on-one training.
This founding group understood that improved literacy skills open doors for employment, enrich parent-child-school interactions, lead to higher education, and enhance community participation— in short, increased literacy skills create much more successful lives for individuals, families and their surrounding communities. Bill always put his community at the forefront and worked to strengthen it.
Bill served tirelessly–seeking the best location for a MARC office, recruiting board members, advocating and sharing the good news of MARC whenever possible. Bill was involved with many different community organizations, and encouraged liaisons with these organizations and MARC whenever possible.
At a time when the fledgling organization was floundering financially, Bill and Harriette Cook made a substantial donation to the Greenville Area Community Foundation, earmarking the interest for MARC. That funding, along with support from the community during annual fund drives, has been vital to MARC’s continual operation.
Bill was committed to MARC He faithfully attended board meetings and special MARC events. He was secretary of the organization for many years serving on the board from 1998-2014. Accepting that the board was not ready to let him retire, Bill served in emeritus status and actively attended meetings until the time of his passing. Bill was a valuable board member in so many ways. His broad thinking, great problem solving and listening skills, as well as his ability to relate well to others were wonderful assets for MARC. Bill constantly looked for opportunities to expand MARC. He was dedicated to always trying new ways to reach those who were in need of literacy assistance.
To say Bill will be missed is a vast understatement. Bill’s contributions to MARC were priceless and beyond compare. Bill’s presence, ideas and commitment kept the heartbeat of MARC strong and steady. With Bill as a model and ongoing inspiration, MARC will continue to move forward and help create successful readers and leaders throughout the Montcalm area.