- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 30, 2002

David O. "Doc" Cooke, whose 44 years of service at the Pentagon earned him the nickname "Mayor of the Pentagon," died June 22 at a Charlottesville hospital from injuries sustained in a single-car accident earlier this month. He was 81.
Capt. Cooke was the director of administration and management and had worked at the Pentagon since 1958, when then-Defense Secretary Neil H. McElroy tapped him to serve on a task force for Defense Department restructuring.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld paid homage to Capt. Cooke at his Pentagon press briefing Thursday, citing Capt. Cooke's dedication, longevity and wisdom.
"When I came back to the Pentagon after being gone for a quarter of a century, why, many things had changed, but one thing remained the same, and that was Doc was still here," Mr. Rumsfeld said.
"I know that many of you know that he came to the department in 1958. And every secretary of defense since has relied and depended on his advice and the leadership he has provided. For some 44 years, Doc Cooke helped to ensure the safety, security and smooth operation of this department, earning him the nickname of 'Mayor of the Pentagon.'"
Capt. Cooke was a Buffalo, N.Y., native and graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1941. He earned a master's degree from SUNY at Albany in 1942.
During World War II, Capt. Cooke served in the Navy. He earned his law degree from George Washington University in 1951. He returned to active duty and served in various posts until retiring as a captain in 1968.
Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, echoed Mr. Rumsfeld's praise at the briefing Wednesday, paying special attention to Capt. Cooke's continuity at the Pentagon.
"While we in uniform are transient personnel that come and go, Doc was the permanent fixture, always welcoming us to his building," Gen. Myers said. "And we're sure all going to miss him, I can tell you that.
"As a personal anecdote, I've got to go back to September 11th. As the secretary and I were in a couple of smoke-filled command centers, the other person there that I can remember vividly was Doc Cooke, because, after all, his building was attacked. And he took that very personally and was right there by our side through all of that. He was a real trouper, added so much to the Department of Defense, and we, as I said, will miss him."
On June 6, Capt. Cooke received severe head injuries and broken bones in his arms, legs and chest when 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, according to the Greene County Sheriff's Office.
He was airlifted to the University of Virginia Medical Center at Charlottesville, where he was in critical condition until he died, according to a hospital spokeswoman.
Capt. Cooke is survived by his daughter, Michele C. Sutton of Springfield; sons, Lot H. Cooke of Alexandria and David O. Cooke Jr. of Falls Church; three grandsons and one granddaughter. His wife of 52 years, Marion, died in September 1999.
The Pentagon is planning a memorial service, but it has not yet been scheduled, a Pentagon spokeswoman said.
A funeral service will be held at 9 a.m. July 10 at Word of Life Assembly of God Church, 5225 Backlick Road, Springfield. At 11 a.m., Capt. Cooke will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.


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