Business and civic leader Leland P. Cook, Jr. passed away November 6, 2009 after a courageous battle with a lengthy illness at the age of 75. He was born December 19, 1933 to Leland Preston Cook, Sr. and Maudine Cook in Abilene, Texas. He was the only son of four children. Leland married his junior high sweetheart and love of his life, Sue Burton of Abilene. He attended Texas A&M on a football scholarship and graduated in 1956 with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Economics. He was also a Golden Glove Heavy Weight boxing champion at Abilene High School, where he graduated in 1952.
After graduation from college, he worked in banking, as well as the grocery and newspaper business in the Abilene, Texas area. In 1967, Leland moved his family, Sue and four boys, Byron, Rob, Ken and Lance, to Corsicana, to begin a career at the Corsicana Daily Sun as circulation manager. His youngest son Brad was born in Corsicana in 1970.
In 1972, Leland began to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities with the purchase of Cabell’s, a small convenience store in downtown Corsicana. In 1975, Cook purchased Cranford Vending Company, now known as Master Vend; which is presently owned and operated by his son, Lance. In 1985, Leland and his oldest son Byron started TRADEWEST, which initially licensed and marketed coin operated video games, including the top selling game in 1986, Ikari Warrior. The Japanese developer of Ikari Warrior was so enamored with Leland’s unique personality that he was included as a character in the final game seen at the end, Colonel Cook. In 1987, TRADEWEST became a pioneering company in the new home entertainment video game industry. As one of the early licensees of Nintendo, TRADEWEST produced such classic hits as Double Dragon, Super Off Road, and Battletoads.
In the late 1980’s, Leland and Sue fulfilled a life long dream of ranching by purchasing property now known as Richland Ranch. In the early 1990’s, Leland turned his attention to the horse racing industry. His first stakes winning horse was Senior Foxfire. In 1993, his racehorse Dixieland Heat won the Louisiana Derby, qualifying him for the Kentucky Derby. Also, their horse, Gold Nugget earned horse of the year through the Texas Thoroughbred Association. Leland was a prominent owner and horse breeder in Texas and received many awards and accolades from the industry.
Leland has been a director of Community National Bank and Trust since 1980. At the time of his death, he was Chairman of the Board of Community National Bank of Texas Holding Company.
Among the many other activities Leland was involved in, one of his greatest passions was coaching the American Reds little league team for eighteen years. He loved and remembered every one of his players. They became part of his life as he continued to follow and encourage many of his former players into adulthood. In addition to coaching little league, he also coached Gray Y football and soccer. He was a second generation Rotarian, former president of the Rotary Club and a Paul Harris Fellow. Leland was a member of the Navarro College Foundation Board. He was one of the early supporters and major benefactors of the Warehouse Living Arts Center. He also performed in the stage production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, playing the role of Big Daddy. He received the Chamber of Commerce Arthur J. Kenney award. He was a major benefactor of the Navarro County Youth Expo. He was instrumental in the building of The Cook Center at Navarro College as a major benefactor. He loved Corsicana which was demonstrated by his involvement and investment of his time and resources in the community.
During the last year, Leland had an opportunity to share that Jesus Christ was the most important person in his life. He came to know Jesus as his Lord and Savior at the age of 12. He felt it was important for his boys to be in church each Sunday. He and Sue are members of Northside Baptist Church.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Leland Preston Cook, Sr. and Maudine Francis Cook, and a sister, Lora Lee Brooks.
He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Sue Cook; sons, Byron Cook and wife Kay, Rob Cook and wife Margo, Ken Cook and wife Paula, Lance Cook and wife Karen, and Brad Cook; grandchildren, Ginne and Katie Cook, Andrew Cook, Audrey Cook Reed and husband Russell, Kyle Cook and wife Kari, Carlos Cook, Leland Cook, Devin and Jack Summitt, Landon, Logan and Lawton Cook, and Hayden Cook; great-grandchildren Jaxson and Lillie Reed, Kaeleigh and Kenlee Cook. He is also survived by his sisters and their spouses, Carole Cook and Tom Troupe, Regina and Bonnie Cocanougher, and Brian Brooks; and many nieces and nephews.
Memorials may be made to Northside Baptist Church Building Fund or to the Charity of Choice.
Visitation will be held from 6:00 to 8:00 P.M. on Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at the Corley Funeral Home. Services will be held at 11:00 AM, Wednesday, November 11, 2009 at the Northside Baptist Church with Rev. Rick Lamb officiating. A private family burial will be held.
Pallbearers will be Byron Cook, Rob Cook, Ken Cook, Lance Cook and Brad Cook. Honorary Pallbearers will be Brian Brooks, Chuck Rash, Bill Ratliff, Dr. Kent Rogers, Gerald Romero, Jerry Stroud, and Zane Stites.
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