Pacific University gave him a start—so he gives back
Everett Cook has been giving to Pacific University for more than 60 years.
A former student, Cook didn’t actually graduate from Pacific. But that doesn’t stop him from crediting his time here for helping shape the man he would become.
Cook grew up in Beaverton, an avid lover of science. Both his parents had college educations, and they encouraged their children to explore.
“They felt that, whatever we wanted to do, so long as we didn’t destroy the house, we were able to do it,” Cook said. “I had my own laboratory at home. I think I had a better laboratory in chemistry than what the high school had.”
He chose Pacific because the entrance exams at the time allowed him to skip some English courses and jump into the chemistry program. But once at school, he found himself easily distracted by extracurricular activities, particularly football.
He recalls the day that Dr. Harold Schimke called him into his office and told him to choose: football or chemistry.
“We weren’t winning very many games,” Cook joked. “I said, ‘Yes sir. I just gave up football.’”
He was made the chemistry lab assistant and put in charge of teaching freshmen—and found a love for teaching that has continued all his life.
Cook left Pacific to get married after his sophomore year, but he worked locally as an industrial chemist. He went on to earn degrees in emergency management, public administration and, eventually, a doctorate in nuclear physics.
He served five years in the Navy during the Korean War. He worked as a research chemical engineer for Tektronix, as a radiological engineer and nuclear educator in Washington County and as chief executive officer of a nuclear facility in Utah.
Later, he served as a nuclear physicist for the state of Oregon during the Trojan Nuclear Power Plant era.
He also has taught courses around the country for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Red Cross. He managed some 18,000 volunteers during the 1983 Salt Lake City floods.
He’s been a member of about 17 different professional organizations, from the American Society of Chemistry to the American Spectral Graphic Association, and served as local president of every one of them.
He’s volunteered extensively, with the Lions Club and the American Legion and has earned commendations from two U.S. presidents for his extensive volunteer hours. Now retired, widowed and in his 80s, Cook continues volunteering, working with Boys State and tutoring children at local grade schools.
“It just keeps me young,” Cook said. “I enjoy doing all these things. I like to educate people. I talk about science, or chemistry in particular. I talk about Pacific University.”
And, as he has annually for the past 61 years, he continues giving to Pacific University, the school that helped start it all.
“I believe in education. I believe that education has to be earned,” he said. “And I believe people deserve to go to college if they’re capable.”