KENTON — Nancy W. Cook dedicated her life to public service, first as a 36-year state senator for the area west of Dover and then as Kent County’s register of wills from 2011-13.
And Ms. Cook, 85, of Kenton, has shown no signs of slowing down, as she was inducted into the DE Turf Sports Complex’s Wall of Fame on Sept. 16 and was honored by Kent County Levy Court with a Medal for Meritorious Service on Oct. 19.
She said she was both surprised and humbled by being recognized by the two organizations.
“I was very surprised, I’ll be honest with you,” said Ms. Cook, “and certainly very honored in both cases. I was overwhelmed.”
She was also caught somewhat off guard.
“When I went to Levy Court, I thought I was going to hear somebody else recognized for the work they did in soil conservation, so when they started reading the tribute, I had no idea it was about me until they said something about ‘Nancy,’” Ms. Cook said.
“I just think it’s truly an honor in both cases, and, obviously, to be recognized by Levy Court, another elected body, certainly is very close to my heart because, obviously, it represents that we tried to work together over the years, and I appreciate the recognition.”
Bill Strickland, chairman of DE Turf, just south of Frederica, said Ms. Cook was instrumental in getting the vision for the facility off the ground and running.
“She has meant the world to DE Turf,” he said. “Her involvement with DE Turf goes back to the days when the project was still on the drawing board.
“We were trying to secure startup infrastructure money from the Delaware Economic Development Office’s infrastructure fund, and Nancy was a tireless advocate, making phone calls and lobbying ... folks to support what turned out to be a $3.2 million grant that really got the project off the ground.”
DE Turf continues to thrive, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Nancy has been tireless in her advocacy of the complex, both working with state officials to help us get open during COVID, to securing funds for additional lights, which will be constructed at the facility in December to alight all 12 fields,” Mr. Strickland said. “She’s been a member of our board for many years and has just been a true champion for us.”
When Kent County Levy Court honored Ms. Cook with its prestigious Medal for Meritorious Service, it noted her long and distinguished career in public office.
“Nancy W. Cook began her storied career as the very first elected female Democratic Delaware state senator and was soon thereafter appointed to the Finance Committee, before chairing or co-chairing the prestigious budget-writing Joint Finance Committee for the next 25 years,” Levy Court pronounced during the ceremony.
“During her long tenure in the Delaware Senate, Nancy W. Cook championed the Agland Preservation Program, the state’s ‘rainy day fund,’ the state’s AAA credit rating, among other legislation, and has been honored for her contributions by numerous organizations, including the (Delaware Women’s Hall of Fame).”
Sen. Tom Carper wrote a tribute for Ms. Cook when she stepped away from public office in 2010.
“An icon in the Delaware General Assembly, Nancy’s legislative accomplishments are vast,” Sen. Carper wrote. “During my terms as both Delaware’s treasurer and Governor, Nancy and I worked closely together on many financial issues facing the State of Delaware. Known for her immense knowledge of and experience with Delaware financial matters, I valued her input on many major decisions.”
Ms. Cook has remained plenty busy in recent years, as her accolades clearly show. She remains a member of the Polytech School District board of education and the DE Turf board of directors and serves on the board of the Delaware Strategic Fund, which distributes grants that attract new businesses to the state.
She is a proud supporter of DE Turf and said it’s amazing how the organization managed to endure through COVID-19.
“I became a member of the board in recent years, but what they have done to bring DE Turf to Kent County is just amazing. It truly is,” Ms. Cook said. “They had some obstacles along the way, but I think what a fine facility, and I think that it ranks high along the East Coast, as far as very few complexes have all turf (fields), and each year, we get more tournaments and national tournaments, and it just brings so much to Kent County.
“That wasn’t easy, but they managed to do it and, like other organizations, what a tough, tough time. In my whole tenure, I’ve seen a lot of downturns in the economy and things affected, but nothing like what has happened in the last year-and-a-half (throughout the pandemic),” she said.
“So I’m very busy, and I love it.”