Following his naval service, he completed his college and graduate studies at Catawba and earned a Master of Arts degree at Appalachian State University in 1958. He also studied at the University of Colorado, Stetson University and Heidelberg and Schiller Universities in Germany and France. David taught and coached football in Winston-Salem, prior to being selected to teach with the U.S. Department of Defense Schools in Germany, during the "Cold War," in 1958.
He set his course for becoming a true vanguard of education and was appointed principal of the Berlin American High School, one year after joining the Berlin American School faculty. He was honored with two outstanding achievement awards by the U.S. Berlin Military Community for his "outstanding contributions in building grand relations with the American and Berliners during the Berlin Crisis of the Cold War," preceding the building of the infamous Berlin Wall. This was the beginning of what he often referred to as his walk in the footsteps of history. Berlin gave him a unique opportunity and interest in becoming an international educator. He served over 20 years in American Schools in Germany, Turkey, Holland, England and Japan. He met many interesting and famous persons during his travels, studies and interest in the countries, where he taught and lived. Those experiences greatly influenced his love for learning, travel and building bridges of friendship, throughout the world. He embraced William Butler Yeats' idealistic proverb, "There are no strangers in the world, only friends not yet met."
David served as the director of the Kettering Institute IDEA innovative summer seminars for educational leaders, developing relevant schools during the 1970s. He was also a summer guest professor at Appalachian State University, while living and serving in Europe. He was an educator that made learning relevant, fun and adventurous, having served as the vice principal at the most innovative non-graded high School with Dr. B. Frank Brown in Melbourne, Fla.
He always searched for the best teaching methods that would lead his students to a better and more fulfilling life. One of his greatest contributions was in initiating the Department of Defense Environmental Center's Project Bold program in Berthesgaden, Germany. This program was founded on the International Outward Bound Schools. The Hinterbrand Lodge, one of the Berthesgaden lodges from Hitler's Generals, was given for these programs.
David returned to the United States, where he served schools in Colorado and with the Colorado State Department of Education. He returned to Concord, where he served as the principal at the Juvenile Stonewall Jackson School and later as a director of education, for the NC Department of Corrections.
Following his retirement from education, he created two International Study Programs for educators in England, France and Germany. One of the most successful was "A Dickens Christmas," at Exeter University in England. He and his wife, Sue, loved returning to Germany and Austria, where they escorted groups to Salzburg and the Silent Night Christmas celebration in Oberndorf, Austria, where the beautiful carol was first sung.
David was a true "Knight Errant," dedicating his life to making the world better for all. An extraordinary gentleman of dignity and grace, David leaves an indelible impression on the lives of all who crossed his path. He was a true beacon of love, compassion and generosity and a man of profound intellect. He will be deeply missed and his legacy serves as a touchstone for all generations.
He is preceded in death by his parents; brothers, Bill Cook and Fred (Bub) Cook; and sisters, Hazel Ann Strickland and Colleen Cook. His devoted wife, Sue Cook, and extended family survive him.
In lieu of flowers, any donations may be sent to the Boy's and Girl's Club of Cabarrus County, P.O. Box 1405, Concord, NC 28026 or to Tucker Hospice House, 5003 Hospice Lane, Kannapolis NC 28081.
Condolences may be left online at http://www.wilkinsonfuneralhome.com.
Published in the Independent Tribune