2017 Lifetime Achievement in Communications Award, David Cook
In 2017, the FPRA Ocala Chapter awarded David Cook with the very first Lifetime Achievement Award in Communications at the 2017 Mid-Florida Local Image and Wilton F. Martin Communicator of the Year Awards Gala on Thursday, April 27. Mr. Cook, also known as “Mr. Marion County History,” is a retired Star-Banner editor and longtime Marion County historian who has exemplified the standards of ethical journalism in the community.
The nomination for Cook was submitted by Marian Rizzo. A portion of her nomination is listed below:
I am nominating David Cook for this prestigious honor because as a budding journalist many years ago I learned a lot from him, and though he had achieved great heights in the business of newspaper reporting, he never looked down on those of us who had not yet measured up to his expertise, but always had a kind word of encouragement.
My feelings are shared by other colleagues, such as editorial page editor Brad Rogers who noted this about David’s longtime column: “It was more than a column, it was a chronicle of Ocala’s history. It was a job that Mr. Cook loved, and it showed. Along the way he literally wrote the book on Ocala’s history.”
Local News Editor, Susan Smiley-Height, had this to say: “David is ‘Mr. Marion County History,’ plain and simple. Anyone who would wish to learn about this wonderful area of Florida would only need to read his writings to gain a full understanding of the people, organizations, and other entities that have shaped Marion County through the ages.”
Members of the community also hold a high respect for this humble yet very accomplished journalist. Members of The Historic Preservation Society included several paragraphs on the life and work of David Cook in their 2007 publication, “Historic Ocala; the Story of Ocala and Marion County. Included was this notation: “His interest in local history was aroused by stories of the Indian wars of the 1830’s. He has written hundreds of articles on local history over the years and has conducted college seminars on local history. He has assisted unofficially in compiling several books dealing with Marion County history.”
Over the years, David held several positions at the Ocala Star-Banner Newspaper, from cub reporter who covered a fire that nearly destroyed Silver Springs Attraction, to city editor, sports editor, managing editor, and, after his retirement, his unfailing work with his continuing weekly column.
David Cook has left a legacy of historic information and ethical journalism that rightfully deserves to be recognized.
The Lifetime Achievement Award will not necessarily be awarded on an annual basis, but awarded to deserving candidates as the nominations come forth.