Elder Cook was born September 1, 1941 at Lehi, Utah
to Clarence H. Cook and Myrl Johnson.
“I've always felt like a missionary,” said Elder
Gene R. Cook, as a member of the First Council of the Seventy.
Missionary work began for him when he was 12 years
old. One night his older brother came home from MIA and told him how his
teacher had talked about the importance of testimony and having one of
your own. “My brother told me that he wanted to get one, and he began to
fast and pray,” says Elder Cook.
“After witnessing the spiritual experiences in our
family and my brother's life during the following week, I knew I wanted
to get a testimony too. I began to read the Book of Mormon, and early in
First Nephi I began to get those profound spiritual feelings. I read that
book many times before being called as a full-time missionary. When you
know it's true, you have to share it. I started by working on my young
friends in Mesa, Arizona, to help them read the Book of Mormon and gain
At the age of 17, Elder Cook was so anxious to be
a missionary that he was called on a stake mission as junior companion
to an older missionary. The next year he was assigned to be the senior
companion to a 17-year-old friend whom he tried to teach how to be a missionary.
After that he served a full-time mission in Uruguay-Paraguay
under Elder J. Thomas Fyans. “Elder Fyans gave me training in leadership,
and it was a time of much growth and learning,” says Elder Cook. Since
then Elder Cook has held many other positions in the Church, including
Regional and Mission Representative of the Twelve, counselor in a stake
mission presidency, and one of the seven presidents of the quorum of seventy
in his stake.
Elder Cook was graduated from Arizona State University
with a Master of Business Administration degree. He worked as an insurance
salesman, manager, and field trainer and was a member of the Million Dollar
Roundtable his first year in the insurance business. But, despite his success, he began to feel restless
and to ask himself what he was really doing with his life. “It just wasn't
enough,” he says. After much private contemplation he felt directed to
move his family to Utah. Subsequently,
he began to work for the Church Personnel Department. “The Lord put
what I had learned in the insurance business to good use.”
Among other callings Elder Cook worked as executive
secretary to the Missionary Executive Committee and the First Council of
When President Spencer W.
Kimball interviewed him about serving as a Seventy, he asked, among other
questions, if Elder Cook was willing to sacrifice all he has for the rest
of his life, even to sacrifice his life, for the gospel. “I was thrilled
to be able to answer his questions affirmatively. President Kimball also
asked about my wife, Janelle, and if she could answer the same questions.
I didn't even need to ask her. She understands the order of the priesthood.
She is truly characteristic of great LDS women — totally willing to follow
direction and totally trusting of me as her priesthood leader in the decisions
we must make. I can't do this alone. You know, even though it's right,
it isn't easy for a young wife when you have committed especially your
weekends for the rest of your life to your Church assignment.” Elder and
Sister Cook had four children: Tray, Travis, Terrel, and
“What led me to this point in my life more than any
other thing is that I gained a witness so early,” he said. “When you know
it's true, you desire to live it with all your heart and you've just got
to share it.”
Scarcely a year after his call to the First Council
of the Seventy with the reorganization of the First Quorum of the Seventy
after a dormancy of many years, Elder Cook was called to the First Quorum.
Elder Cook was released from the First Quorum and named General Authority Emeritus with a vote of gratitude for services rendered over many long years on Saturday October 6, 2007 at the 177th Semi-annual General Conference.