Cover photo for David William Cook's Obituary
David William Cook Profile Photo
1964 David William Cook 2023

David William Cook

April 23, 1964 — August 23, 2023

For I must be traveling on now,

Cause there’s too many places I’ve got to be ~

David William Cook, age 59, of Columbus, Ohio passed away peacefully surrounded by love, near and far, on his own terms; in his house, in his chair on August 23, 2023 having lived an inspirational life full of special relationships, creativity, and acts of service. Dave lived life to the fullest, always living like he only had a year to live.

Dave was born April 23, 1964 to the late Reverend Ralph and late Janet (Fickinger) Cook. He grew up in the Church parsonage with his 4 siblings, Martha, Howard, Laura, and Stephen. To understand Dave the man is to know his upbringing. Dave’s parents established a fun and creative household for the kids - there was always music and art going on. They made a point to celebrate not just the Christian traditions, but many different cultures. They practiced Agape, which is selfless love, compassion, and goodwill towards others regardless of circumstances or personal gain. The Cook household was a warm, welcoming one with a revolving door. Before starting dinner, Mrs. Cook would yell up, “Who’s eating here tonight?” There were always more people visiting than who lived there, a lifestyle Dave embraced for the rest of his life. He expressed his artistic talent early on by drawing, sketching, woodworking, and building things from odds and ends.


At age 12, Dave got sick, was in and out of the hospital for months, and was given a year to live. He was finally diagnosed with the rare genetic Wilson’s disease and his family and doctors figured how to manage the disease. Dave went back to school but always kept the mentality of appreciating life and living to the fullest. Not surprisingly, he was a popular guy who was friends with all of the high school groups. “Cooky” loved hanging with friends “like bunkies”, blowing donuts, putting on smoke shows in parking lots, and playing sports. He graduated from Granby Memorial H.S. (Go Bears) in Granby, Connecticut - Class of 1982. Dave also graduated from Technical Career Institute specializing in Automotive.

Dave’s parents moved to Columbus, Ohio in 1983 for Reverend Cook’s ministry, bringing along Dave’s brothers, Howard and Steve. Dave followed after graduating from TCI. Dave was employed by Crestview Cadillac and Tom Gill Oldsmobile doing paint and body work. Later, he worked at the Cloud Nine smoke shop for many years. He was the all-around pit man for Cloud Nine short track racing and Legend cars, and also frequently did side work at the St. Amant Racing shop. He met many lifelong friends through these and other jobs.

Just like his childhood home, anywhere Dave lived had a revolving door - a parade of friends coming to hang out at Cook’s. Dave always had “his chair”, and his living room would be filled with the regulars, new friends, and cameo appearances of friends who hadn’t been around in awhile. Everyone knew they could stop by Cook’s for a good hang and laughs.

You could always hear Dave coming and going in one of his souped up Jeeps or Harleys. He was a gearhead, frequently working on his or his friends’ cars. He could be found in his driveway under a vehicle or with the hood up. He had a passion for and expressed his creativity by working on cars, Jeeps, motorcycles, vans, pick-ups, Winnabagos - you name it. He bought a ‘57 Plymouth that he chopped, lowered, and painted canary yellow with red flames and called it The Assassin. He flamed up everything - cars, bikes, mailboxes, house phones. He named his bright red Jeep with the V8 engine The Sentinel. Part of his crew recently voted Judas Priest’s The Sentinel as their “Dave Cook song”, partly because that was the name of his huge, loud Jeep.

In 2003, Dave bought a dilapidated house across the street from the St. Amant shop where he spent so much time. He tore it down to the studs and rebuilt it as a custom house, like he would with chopping bikes and cars. He put so much work, creativity, and time into his badass yet charming house. He was a skilled carpenter, metal worker, stone and tile layer, and landscaper. Every surface of the house has a story of what was refurbished, found, traded and made. One of Dave’s last house projects was building the fence around his back yard. Many friends helped donate parts, sweat and time to get it done and he was so appreciative (“function, not form”). That house is an expression of his art and a testament to his creativity, talent and his friendships.

Dave had several friend groups and so many special people with whom he enjoyed laughing, philosophizing, going on adventures, and spending time chilling. He had a multitude of people who he loved and loved him back strongly. Many of these friendships spanned the course of decades and into lifelong friendships. He made an effort to keep in contact (the old fashioned way). Dave’s friend groups were all the spokes to his hub. He had a huge influence over many people’s lives. 

All along the way Dave was compelled to use his time on Earth to help friends and strangers alike - he would jump up and spring into action to help anybody. He was a humble giver who selflessly offered help without seeking recognition for his actions. He would give anyone the shirt off his back (if he was wearing one). There are countless stories of Dave giving in both large and small ways - no person will ever know what he did for everybody.  And importantly, he inherently knew the power and gift of allowing people to help him.

Dave loved being an uncle to Heather, Kyle, and Josh - getting on the floor and playing/wrestling with them (The Sandwich Man!). He was an artist, painting large murals  - on sides of buildings, on the playroom walls of a family homeless shelter to brighten it up, and a dragon on his niece Heather’s childhood room wall. He made detailed life-like drawings and was a talented tattoo artist (even laying down ink on his own arms). He was a jack of all trades. Dave loved listening to rock and going to shows - especially Watershed’s. He was the band’s official unofficial mechanic to Rocko, Watershed’s van.   

Dave lived life on his own terms, as if every year was a bonus. He kept the values that he grew up with: humility, a strong work ethic, loyalty, and generosity while always being a kid at heart.  He had a bright smile, a sly wit, and a wonderful mix of his father’s “engineering brain” and his mother’s loving creativity. Dave was genuine, generous and a one in a million person that so many people feel honored to have known. He never met a stranger and put time and effort into his friendships. The essence of Dave Cook was how special he made people feel when they were with him - whoever was right in front of him was the most important person (and that they were just as cool as he was.)

When talking about how many dear friends and family were ready to jump in and help at the end of Dave’s life (and always) a friend commented “David Cook is the richest man I know.” When he was diagnosed in July 2023, he said “I’m just going to miss everybody”. Dave built such a strong community that at the end of his life it allowed him to pass away as he wished, and for that he was just so grateful. Losing Dave Cook hits hard for all of his family and friends. In the end, Dave passed on as he lived his life - with strength, humor, connection, grace, and LOVE.

Dave is survived by his sisters, Martha Cook and Laura Cook Waddell (Scott) and brother, Stephen Cook; niece, Heather Waddell (Noël); nephews, Kyle Arvisais (Lauren) and Josh Waddell (Kaila); great niece, Mia Jaye Waddell; and countless number of amazing friends who Dave has collected throughout his life. Dave is preceded in death by his loving parents, Reverend Ralph and Janet Cook; his brother, Howard Cook; many dear friends, and the bestest boy, Dave’s beloved dog, Coal.

Dave was gearing up to have friends over for the Buckeye game on Saturday 8/29 which is still happening. As Dave would say, “just stop by the house” (in Dave voice) and share some Cook stories and laughter.

The family would like to express their thanks to the staff at OhioHealth Hospice for their compassionate care.

You can honor Dave by doing what he would: help someone, enjoy nature, rev that engine, rock out, and have a good hang session with friends. Should friends desire, contributions in his name may be made to “Bring an End to Marijuana Prohibition in Ohio” Donate - Just Like Alcohol or OhioHealth Hospice Giving.

~ Won’t you fly high, Free Bird, yeah…

To order memorial trees in memory of David William Cook, please visit our tree store.


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