Lunch With a Stranger

I was at the Café senior year and Dr. Cook was in line behind me. We made typical conversation and jokes. He then pointed over at a young student sitting at a table eating lunch. “Do you know him?” he asked me.

“No,” I replied. “I’ve never met him.”

He then suggested to me, “Go over there and eat lunch with him. No one should ever eat by themselves. Especially here.”

I was hesitant at first to walk over to a stranger and sit down to have a meal with them. However, I realized what Dr. Cook was teaching me: to be kind and to build community and fellowship wherever I went. His suggestion showed me his heart and character and how much he cared about Biola students and the community we should always have.

Mia Blessing (’06)

The Humble President

My first semester as a student at Biola I led the hymn “He Leadeth Me” during the chapel worship time. Dr. Cook briefly thanked me after chapel and explained it had been an important song to him growing up. Being brand new to Biola, I had no idea who this man was. So I politely asked, “Are you visiting this morning or are you a professor here, sir?” Dr. Cook gently leaned down to me and said, “I’m Dr. Cook, but it’s OK … I’m a humble president.”

Jeff Urke (’04)
Youth & Worship Coordinator, Biola Youth

‘An Extraordinary Memory’

Dr. Cook had an extraordinary memory and an amazing ability to identify with every person he met. The last time I saw the late president was at a luncheon on campus. Dr. Cook came up to tell me about his encounter on a recent trip of an Eritrean taxi driver who happened to know Dr. Mesghina G-Medhin — the international students director when I was a student. I was impressed that after 14 years, Dr. Cook still remembered my connection with the Biola international students and Mesghina. And I was even more touched by the fact that after all these years, Mesghina still had a special place in Dr. Cook’s heart — so special that Dr. Cook would mention and inquire about Mesghina from a stranger. When Dr. Cook told people that he thought about them and prayed for them, he truly meant it!

Maggie Choy (’94)
Senior Accountant

A ‘Filipino at Heart’

I was a fairly new immigrant from the Philippines and a new employee at Biola’s Registrar’s Office in 1990 when I first met Dr. Cook at one of the employee functions. Dr. Cook immediately recognized that I am of Filipino nationality.With a warm smile and a firm handshake, he greeted me with “hello” and “Kumusta Ka?” which means “how are you?” in Tagalog. This was a big deal to me who was so new at my job, so unsure and just starting out in a new country. With enthusiasm he talked briefly about his family’s years as missionaries in Cebu, Philippines. He shared how much he enjoyed the food, the colorful jeepneys, about the interesting way of driving in Manila.You could just hear his deep love for the Lord, for the people, just from the way he talked about my country. He then asked if I was from Mandaluyong, a city in Metro Manila.As soon as I heard him mention that city and saw a huge grin on his face, I knew right away where he was going with it. There is a popular joke among Filipinos about that particular city and I could not believe hearing the president of Biola telling me the joke. He was hilarious; oh,the joy of laughing with Dr. Cook. I was convinced that he was a fellow Filipino at heart.

Aida Juanico
Registration Assistant, Office of the Registrar

Dinner, Pie and the Tip

My wife and I were dining at Polly’s Pies in Fullerton one evening a few years back, where we ran into Clyde and Anna Belle. They were so gracious and talked with us for a while, then left. When the time came to pay our bill, our waitress informed us that it had been taken care of, including two pieces of pie for dessert, along with the tip. It didn’t take me long to figure out who the benefactor was. A few days later, I ran into Clyde on campus, and he wanted to make very certain that in addition to the bill being paid, the pie was covered — and the tip. “You’re sure she told you the tip as well?” “Yes, Clyde. She said it was all covered, including tip.” If I was a bit quicker, I would have replied: “Pie? What pie, Clyde?”

John C. Schmidt
Associate Professor, Cinema and Media Arts

An Emptied Wallet

One day I went to Dr. Cook’s office when I did not have a single dollar to pay rent, food, etc.I asked him if there was any way I could get some financial help. He took out his wallet and gave me all of the cash he had and told me he would make sure that I got some financial aid. He wrote me a small personal note a couple of months later checking how I was doing. He came to me another day, while I was at Talbot, after a speech I gave in the international student meeting. He told me that if I stopped speaking God would take His gift from me. It was a great honor to be called a gifted speaker by a man of his caliber. This man had many gifts, but what stands out for me is was his ability to reach down to your soul in a gentle manner and be a source of encouragement and comfort. Biola has lost a legend.

Dorothy Morgos (M.A. ’01, Ph.D. ’06)

God’s Sliding Glass Door

Finally our chance to meet Dr. Cook had come! My husband and I had been nominated to be the honor guards for the graduation ceremony in May 2006. We were to lead the procession and Dr. Cook would be following close behind. We lined up as the music began and, just then, Dr. Cook came and introduced himself. After a brief chat, he asked the dreaded question. “So,” he said, “what are your plans after graduation?”

I remember thinking, “This isn’t what was supposed to happen! Any question but that one!” He could sense our uncertainty and quickly came to the rescue. His response was kind and caring: “I have to tell you how God has often worked in my life.” He proceeded to explain that sometimes God waits until what we feel is the last minute to reveal His will. “It’s like walking up to a sliding glass door and right before you slam into it, it opens!”

That moment time stood still. Dr. Cook’s words to us have remained as a constant encouragement. He always looked to encourage and uplift others.

Abby Clark (’05, M.A. ’06)
Coordinator of Special and Off-Campus Graduate Programs, Office of the Registrar

The Prayer Warrior

Clyde Cook was one of the three really important big men in my life. He was a giant of a man to me. A colleague, a friend, a president, a godly man of integrity and prayer who loved his Lord, the Bible, Biola, basketball, his wife, Anna Belle, and his family with a passion. None of us who knew him will ever forget those corny jokes, and there came a time when we looked forward to them. Nor will we forget that he always recognized his wife, Anna Belle. He was modeling before us the graciousness of a dedicated husband.

Over five years ago I was diagnosed with a muscle-wasting disease. Every day since then whenever we would meet on campus, he would tell me he had prayed for me, and I knew he wasn’t simply speaking platitudes. I knew he was a man of his word. Clyde Cook the prayer warrior. In the Bible, Moses is known as “the man of God.” Clyde was Biola’s man of God, and I can tell you this, he made it to the Promised Land. I’ll miss you Clyde.

Rafe Payne
Professor of Biology, 1970-2008

An Unexpected Interruption

I had just come to Biola University on a postdoctoral fellowship. My then 2-year-old daughter Mary Kate was visiting me in my office, which was on the second floor of the administration building. I took my eyes off her for just a second only to discover that she had dashed off. To my horror she burst in the president’s office, where (as I feared) a Very Important Meeting was in process. Dr. Cook came out with a delighted Mary Kate and asked whether I was missing anything or one. It was my first experience with this most humane and Christian of administrators, but not my last. Safe to say my family would not be at Biola (where my oldest will start in the fall) and Torrey Honors Institute would not exist if it were not for the leadership of Dr. Cook. Mary Kate and I both look forward to bursting in on whatever meetings Dr. Cook is having in Heaven when we meet him there.

John Mark Reynolds
Professor of Philosophy
Director, Torrey Honors Institute

Long-Distance Prayers

I had gone to El Paso, Texas, in August 2004, because my father was ill. Dr. Cook called me there and prayed with me. A week later my father died and Dr. Cook called and prayed with me again. I will never forget that he took time out of his very busy schedule to call me twice and pray with me.

Carolyn White
Auxiliary Operations Manager

Something to Write Home About

Every time I was on campus (normally speaking at events), Dr. Cook would not only go out of his way to speak to me and ask me how I was doing, but I could also count on a follow-up personal letter from him restating the outline of one of the messages I had given on campus, and telling me how the Lord used me to minister to him. Now I speak a lot of places, but rarely do I get thank-you notes from university presidents concerning my messages. Either those messages were nothing to “write home about,” or Dr. Cook was just an incredibly unique and gracious man. I choose to believe the latter!

Bryan Loritts (M.A. ’98)
Lead pastor, Fellowship Memphis
Memphis, Tenn.

‘Too Much Gravy’

I had the privilege of working with President Cook on Biola events and University publications and planned his retirement activities. He remained humbled and even a bit shy as we doted on his accomplishments during his 25 years as president. He was truly deserving of a yearlong retirement celebration but he questioned everything we planned. He wanted us to downplay the attention on him as much as possible. I’m so glad I didn’t listen to him on this one request. In fact, we planned many of his retirement events without informing him of the details, something he would not have stood for in previous years because he was a perfectionist at heart and had to review everything beforehand. I came to love that attribute about him. He challenged me to leave no detail overlooked in an event program or marketing campaign. As I reflect on him now as we planned his funeral services and final tributes, I can hear him say as he often would when he was praised in public, “this is too much gravy for one small potato.”

Irene Neller
Senior Director, Integrated Marketing Communications

Veering Off Script

As a senior, I was blessed to serve in Associated Students during Dr. Cook’s final year as Biola’s president. At the beginning of the year, we asked Dr. Cook to act in a video we were filming to show at chapel. … We had a great time filming with him. He was much funnier by improvising all of his lines — we didn’t need a script for him! Soon after we showed it at chapel, Dr. Cook asked AS for a few copies of the DVD with the finished video so he could send them to his family. He also wanted to know if we could add a bonus feature of the footage we didn’t use: outtakes of him goofing around in the office, performing Biola cheers with Becca Hull (the Spirit Board chairperson) and even holding a flower in his teeth while doing a small dance. We certainly obliged. If any of us had doubts before, we certainly knew then that God had placed this man in the perfect position. His youthful heart along with his mature Christian leadership made him the ideal man to be Biola’s president all those years.

Cory Cress (’07)
Former Associated Students president

Voice-Mail Encouragement

I remember with fond appreciation Dr. Cook’s kindness, caring and compassion when my husband Dennis had a heart attack in February 2007, one day after his first day on the job with Campus Safety. Upon returning from the hospital one evening, I found a voice message from Dr. Cook ending with a prayer for my husband’s recovery. Then in April when Dennis was about to undergo a second procedure for his heart, Dr. Cook called as we ate dinner and took the time to talk to Dennis, encourage him and pray with him before his procedure the following day.

Jerrianne Smith
Department Coordinator
Kinesiology, Health and Physical Education

Words of Comfort

My 23-year-old son, Brandon Lange Garcia, graduated from Biola in December 2006.He went to be with the Lord on June 14, 2007.A few days after his passing I received a condolence call from Dr. Cook; he also attended Brandon’s memorial service and I was able to speak with him briefly to express my thanks.Afterwards, Dr. Cook sent me a note telling me how much he was moved by the service; I will treasure it always. Now, I don’t know if this is something Dr. Cook always did, but it meant so much to my family and me.It was truly a blessing in the midst of the sorrow.

Barbara Lange
Irvine, CA