“We’re not born with testimonies,” said Elder Richard
E. Cook. “They have to be developed, and they develop in service.”
His own testimony had ample opportunity to develop
in years of service. He was a stake and ward Young Men president,
bishop, stake high councilor, stake president’s counselor, missionary,
and mission president. In 1994 he and his wife,
Mary, were called as missionaries to Mongolia, and when a mission was
organized in that country, he was called as its first president.
He says that this experience as a mission president
in a country where the gospel is just emerging will probably be an asset
in his new calling, as it is necessary to establish cordial relationships
with governments and help people come to know the Church.
His wife said that his capacity for hard work would
be another strength as he served; he had high expectations of himself,
and he knew how to motivate others to work hard too.
Elder Cook worked many years for the Ford Motor Company,
retiring as its general assistant controller. During those years, he had
the opportunity to work with a number of young Church members the company
recruited, and he watched some of them grow into leadership roles in the
wards and stakes of the Detroit area.
Born on 7 September 1930 in Pleasant Grove, Utah,
he earned a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and a master’s
of business administration from Northwestern University.
He married Clea Searle in the Salt Lake Temple on
13 September 1950. Their three daughters and one son gave them 13
grandchildren. Clea died in 1984. He then married Mary Nielsen in the Salt
Lake Temple on 16 July 1988.
Elder Cook was an avid golfer. When the Cooks received
their mission call to Mongolia, however, he left his clubs behind, except
for one that he planned to swing for recreation and exercise. He never
touched it; he became too involved in missionary work.
“I love the Church with all my heart,” Elder Cook
said. “I have seen, over the years, what a marvelous effect it has on people’s
lives.” While the calling to the Second Quorum of the Seventy came as “an
absolute, complete, and utter shock,” he looked forward to the work. “I
am so glad to be able to give something back.”
In August of 2001, as Elder Cook's term of service in the Seventy drew near to a close, President Gordon B. Hinckley made yet another request of him. Elder Cook was requested to serve as the Finance Director of the newly created Perpetual Education Fund. In making announcement of both the release from the Seventy and the new assignment, President Hinckly said, "We have worn out [Elder Cook] on the one side, and now have turned [him] over to wear [him] out on the other side."
On October 6, 2001, a grateful Church, assembled in the 171st Semi-annual General Conference, gave Elder Richard E. Cook a vote of appreciation as he was released with honor from the Second Quorum of the Seventy. At this writing Elder Cook continues to serve with distinction as he helps bring the blessing of higher education to thousands through his labors with the Perpetual Education Fund.