- The Washington Times - Monday, June 17, 2002

The steady hand and down-home wisdom that David O. "Doc" Cooke has brought to work with him at the Pentagon since the late 1950s has earned him a well-deserved nickname: He is known as "The Mayor" of the five-sided village on the Potomac.
Yesterday, the 81-year-old Arlington resident was listed in serious condition at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville after a June 6 automobile accident.
Mr. Cooke whose official title is director of administration and management has worked alongside every defense secretary since Robert McNamara, as well as the 23,000 people who also work at the military facility.
In January 1999, Mr. Cooke was given the President's Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service the highest federal honor a civilian can receive.
During a speech after receiving the award from Defense Secretary William S. Cohen, Mr. Cooke gave credit to his staff with a memorable quote: "If you ever see a frog on top of a telephone pole, you know he didn't get there by himself."
"That was his way of saying he's gotten a lot of help," said Bob Tyrer, who was chief of staff to Mr. Cohen.
Mr. Cooke suffered severe head injuries and broken bones in his arms, legs and chest as the 1998 Ford he was driving flipped over several times after veering off the right side of Route 29 about 15 miles north of Charlottesville, Greene County Sheriff William Morris said. He was extricated by the Jaws of Life.
"He was not breathing at the point the rescue squad got there," Sheriff Morris said, noting the accident might have been caused by a health-related problem. "He was revived. His life was saved by the Greene County rescue squad."
Mr. Cooke administered the oath of office to several defense secretaries, Mr. Tyrer said, adding that Mr. Cooke never made a note, yet he never forgot what was requested of him.
"He's like a father figure to people here in the building," said Glenn Flood, a Pentagon spokesman.
Mr. Cooke is credited with indirectly saving many lives because he oversaw the construction of concrete re-enforcements on the side of the Pentagon that endured the hijacked airplane crash on September 11, Mr. Tyrer said.
"He saved many, many lives," he said, recalling how Mr. Cooke oversaw the 10-year project.
"He just had and has a very deep love of the institution," Mr. Tyrer said. "He is a gentleman. He is a very wise and educated man and a very kind man. He is somebody who is truly devoted to the people who make up the department of defense."
Mr. Cooke's additional accolades include being awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Civilian Service seven times.
He also received the Department of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service, and the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service twice.
"Doc Cooke has managed the Pentagon for the majority of men who have served as defense secretary," former Defense Secretary William Perry said in a statement. "He managed it with efficiency, great energy and unfailing humor. I know that all these former secretaries join me in a prayer for his recovery from this tragic accident."
Mr. Tyrer said he was directed to Mr. Cooke when Mr. Cohen was tapped to be defense secretary in order to familiarize themselves with the Pentagon.
He said the result of his first phone call to Mr. Cooke immediately resulted in a friendship that turned into a strong working relationship.
"He spent a great deal of time nurturing and mentoring and overseeing the very important career staff," Mr. Tyrer said. "It was astonishing how many people he knew personally. For his or any age, he had a remarkable ability to recall details and to process information and to keep the institution's best interest at heart."

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