EDITOR’S NOTE: This In Memory Of article is reprinted at the request of Sharon “Mom” Fairless with permission of the Dallas Morning News – April 19, 2006.
When Floyd James learned that his longtime friend and fellow Plano firefighter Mike Cook had been in a motorcycle accident, he wasn’t worried. Capt. Cook was a big, burly man, who took risks and lived life fully. And when he fell, he always got back up. But he didn’t recover from the crash last week. Capt. Cook, 42, died Saturday at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas from injuries he suffered when he lost control of his motorcycle in Garland. He hit a curb and was thrown off the motorcycle Friday night, officials said. “I could envision a lot of people passing away or being really, seriously hurt before Mike,” Lt. James said. “Mike lived life. He was not just living it though. He squeezed every ounce of juice out of it.” Capt. Cook was not married and had no children, say his friends and fire officials. But he had a bond with fellow firefighters that was stronger than blood, Lt. James said.
Services will be at 10 this morning at First Baptist Church of Plano. The Plano firefighters Association is paying for his funeral, said association president Scott Kerr. “He was obviously too young to go,” Mr. Kerr said. “But we are taking care of him. He has a brother in Germany that we are flying in. His dad is in California, but he was too sick to make the trip. So we are going to take care of everything. We are going to treat him right.
Capt. Cook was a member of the Red Knight Motorcycle Club, a national firefighter club that started in 1982. His motorcycle and firefighter families were his life, friends and co-workers said. While riding his motorcycle in Garland about 8:30 p.m. Friday, Capt. Cook was turning from westbound East Miller Road onto East Centerville Road when he lost control of his bike and hit a curb. He was thrown from the motorcycle. Garland police are looking for anyone who might have seen the accident. Anyone with information can call 972-485-4868.
Capt. Cook joined the Plano Fire Department in 1992 after leaving the fire service in El Paso. He was well known by the North Texas fire service community as an instructor at Collin County Community College’s fire service program, where he started a scholarship in honor of fire instructor Mickey Thurman, who was dying of cancer, said Peggy Harrell, public information officer for the Plano Fire Department. A few weeks ago he earned the rank of Captain, a lifelong dream. “He got passed over last year for the Captain rank,” Lt. James said. “Most people who have been passed over wouldn’t make the effort to do it again. But Mike wasn’t perturbed. He was angry, but he persevered. And when he finally got the position he was thankful but still had jokes. “I told him it was great that he was becoming a captain,” Lt. James said. “Then he said, ‘Oh really? You might think it’s great. But now I’ve got the name of a pirate’” – Capt. Cook.
He was full of contradictions like that, Lt. James said. The 6-foot, 5-inch, 250-pound man had a few small dogs, including two Chihuahuas. Lt. James said watching Capt. Cook walk them on leashes that were bigger than the “runt-looking” dogs was always a treat.
“The dogs seemed totally out of character for him,” Lt. James said. “But then that’s him. He himself was out of character. He didn’t fit any stereotypes. And I’m richer for knowing him. I’m going to miss him terribly.”
By Tiara M. Ellis