Obituary Details

Eleanor Cook

(02/22/1889 - 02/16/1976)
Courtesy of The Harrison Sun, 03/25/1976

Eleanor Barbour Cook dies after distinguished life

Eleanor B. Cook was born Feb. 22, 1889, in New Haven, Conn., and died Feb. 16 in Pullman, Wash.

She was the daughter of Margaret R. Lamson Barbour of Keene, N. H., and New Haven; and Dr. Erwin H. Barbour of Oxford, Ohio, a pioneer paleontologist. The family moved to Lincoln in 1891, where Erwin Barbour was chairman of the Department of Geology at the University of Nebraska and director of the State Museum for 40 years.

Eleanor Barbour was a graduate of the University of Nebraska where her major subject was German, with minors in geology and English. She was the first woman graduate in the history of the University to be elected to both Phi Beta Kappa, scholastic honorary society, and Sigma Xi, scientific honorary. She played on the university women's basketball team, which in those days played inter-collegiate matches; and usually had leading roles in the University dramatic productions. She was also a musician, and studied flute, voice and German one winter at the Royal Conservatory in Dresden, Germany.

In 1910, Eleanor Barbour married Harold J. Cook, of Agate and moved to the ranch. They had four daughters, Margaret, Dorothy, Winifred and Eleanor. During those years, institutions all over the world sent collectors to the Agate fossil quarries, then a part of Agate Springs Ranch. Eleanor B. Cook was renowned as hostess to the visiting paleontologists, as well as running the large household which included her father-in-law James H. Cook, her young brother-in-law, John G. Cook, her husband's grandmother, Mary E. Graham and his uncle, John F. Cook.

Annually, Sioux friends of James H. Cook visited during this period, and were entertained at the ranch. Large numbers of people visited the Cook Museum of Natural History, in the ranch house, and Eleanor B. Cook frequently took time to act as tour guide for these visitors. Simultaneously she taught her daughters in the home, both scholastic subjects and music, so effectively that each was ahead of grade level when she entered formal school.

The marriage was dissolved in the late 1920's, and Mrs. Cook took her family to Chadron where she taught geology and English the year around for 18 years at the college. She founded the first museum of Chadron college, played flute in the orchestra, taught private flute pupils, and acted as faculty sponsor for the college paper for many years.

Upon retirement in 1940, she moved briefly to Lincoln and then to Pullman, Wash., where she made her home with a foster son, Dr. Henry W. Smith, soil chemist in the division of agronomy, Washington State University.

Besides Dr. Smith, she leaves three daughters, Dorothy C. Meade of Agate, Winifred C. McGrew of Spokane, Wash., and Eleanor C. Kottke, of Pullman; 11 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. Her daughter Margaret C. Hoffman predeceased her in 1975.

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