Essay / Education

Torrey Students Share Their Memories of Clyde Cook

Dr. Clyde Cook was a great man who was much beloved by his students at Biola University. Several students at the Torrey Honors Institute submitted short reflections in honor of this wonderful man of God. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Anna Belle and the entire Cook family.


A year ago I was in the hospital after my pelvis was broken in a car accident. My mom took three weeks off of work to be with me as I recovered. Every day people came in to see me and my mom would stay on the side and watch. A couple times someone from the board of trustees came in per Dr. Cook’s request, which was just wonderful! But the best thing was when my room phone rang and I heard my mom say, “Hello, Dr. Cook!” He had called to talk to her and see how she was doing. He cared enough about me and my family to take time out of his busy schedule to talk to my mom. It was absolutely marvelous. I talked to him about 2 months after my accident and told him who I was and his response was, “I was just praying for you this morning and wondering how you were doing. I’m glad that you are doing so much better. Praise God!”

– Nicole Ferguson


I did my senior art show last spring…it was a video piece on the experience of female faculty at Biola (an intersection, I see it, of patriarchal norms of the church and of academia). Dr. Cook and AnnaBelle had walked by the gallery hoping to get in to see the show, but I was still setting up my show. They cheerfully agreed to come back. The next week I received a letter telling me how important he thought the issues I dealt with in the video were and could he buy a copy of it? I was so touched that he was willing to buy a copy of my video!…and that he sent a letter… (I burned him a copy and left it with a note for him at his secretary’s desk).

– Rebecca Henriksen


When my husband worked for Biola’s Campus Safety back when we were dating, he had to miss the Faculty/Staff-Appreciation Dinner because they had scheduled him to work all night. He didn’t consider it that big of a deal, but Dr. Cook did. He intentionally found all of the people who were unable to attend due to their jobs and gave them thoughtful notes along with huge gift certificates to nice restaurants. Jesse and I were able to eat dinner at Claim Jumper, all expenses paid, thanks to Dr. Cook’s incredible heart for finding the overlooked and making them feel appreciated.

– Kelly (Honeycutt) Cone


What I remember most about Dr. Cook is a series of mental images, most of them seen from a distance. Him sitting on the top of the bleachers during chapel. The appearances in Associated Students and Student Missionary Union videos. His accesability to students. Frequently seeing him in the Cafeteria, eating the same caf food as the rest of us, and sitting with the students. The evident love that radiated from him whenever he spoke about his wife, or the story of how they met. Talking about Newman’s Idea of a University, and how he hoped the insights of that book would be applied at Biola. The image I had of Dr. Cook when I was at Biola was one of a man who simultaneously modeled character, unassuming piety, and an astounding sense of humor. Sometimes in the exact same Convocation address.

The most memorable of these moments fell on September 11, 2001. There was much confusion and bewilderment around campus that morning because of the events happening back East. Sometime in the morning, word came out that an emergency chapel had been called. I remember sitting there in the gym, a freshman surrounded by other young students, nervous, uncertain, and somewhat scared. Then Dr. Cook came to the podium. He started talking about being in a city under attack, and shared the story of how he lived through the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong. How he, along with his mother and siblings, were huddled in the basement, his mother singing to them to calm their fears.. How he could still hear the whistles of the bombs when he sang the words of “He Leadeth Me.” As he shared these memories, he also shared the strength and the calm that he had gained from them. He had seen darker days than that one and through God’s grace he had endured He was our grandfather, sharing his wisdom and encouragement when we young ones needed it.

– Kevin White


Someone mentioned Dr. Cook and missions, and I’ve always been grateful for how missions-oriented Biola is, and I know the Cooks are a big part of that. Anyway, Dr. Cook supported missionaries in one way that some people might not know about: he and his wife hosted a dinner for all the undergrads who were missionary kids every year. They’d take us all out to eat and then they’d have us back to their house to play “Two Truths and a Lie” (which is harder to play when almost everyone in the room grew up in a foreign land). Making the MK’s feel at home in their unfamiliar homeland: another grace from a very grace-filled man.

peace of Christ to you,

– Jessica Snell


We didn’t interact much, but Dr. Cook remembered my name.

– Brian Breed


I wrote an article for the chimes last year that had to do with the retrospective in the art gallery. I realized that I needed a quote about how Dr. Cook felt about the show, which was a celebration of him, and his time at Biola. I called information and asked for his secretary’s desk, not sure if I should bother him. I call, and after about six rings, a man answers. I state my name, and that I am with the Chimes, and wondered if he knew how Dr. Cook felt about the show? “Well, I am Dr. Cook, so I could probably tell you. My secretary’s out to lunch so I heard the phone ring and came out to answer it.” I was sort of flabbergasted, and then proceeded with my questions, and he was so kind and said how touched he was and what a wonderful show. He didn’t rush or try and get off the phone, even though it was lunch hour, and then when I’d asked all I could think of, he said “Tell ____ that I’ve so loved the last few editions, I’ve been meaning to tell her she’s been doing a good job.” (I don’t remember the editor’s name at the time, but he did!)

Seems a small thing, but forever cemented him in my mind as a thoughtful caring man.

– Amanda Meyncke


I have two great memories of Dr. Cook.

The first was when I was in Oxford in Fall 1999. He and Mrs. Cook had been over to England for something, and they stopped in Oxford to visit some old friends. They were not in town for very long (the exact time frame escapes my memory), but they invited those of us Biolans who were in Oxford to go out to lunch with them. It was a blessed lunch (I think we went to the Nosebag, for those that care). The Cooks’ friends were actually instrumental in me feeling a little more settled while in Oxford; they invited us over to their house another time and invited us to go to their church if we hadn’t found one already. They attended St. Andrews (I think), and I ended up going there the rest of the semester. It did help that it was close to where I was living on Canterbury. Anyway, the actions of these two couples always stuck with me as being particularly loving in the midst of what I remember as being a good, but difficult, semester.

A few years later, I saw an ad in Bubbs classified for a free washer and dryer that needed a little work. I was living in an apartment with friends, and we had a washer/dryer hookup, but no appliances. I responded and was quite surprised to find that the appliances actually belonged to the Cooks. They were getting new ones, but wanted to give the old ones away, knowing that anyone responding to the classified ad could really use them. We went over to pick them up and I was blessed by the attitude and conversation of both Dr. and Mrs. Cook. I remember Mrs. Cook’s graciousness, and I remember Dr. Cook helping us to disconnect the washer and dryer and explaining what probably needed to be done for the noise the dryer was making. He had been fixing them both by himself for quite a while and he just didn’t have time to do it any more. It impressed me greatly, though, that the president of Biola thought that working with his hands and being a good steward of his money were important enough that he fixed his own dryer whenever possible. It seemed so fitting, and right, and good, and I will always treasure the memory of him on his knees, fiddling with that silly dryer and explaining its tendencies to two recent graduates.

– Stephanie Schnorbus


Dr Cook was such a cool guy. My throat closes up, my heart hurts, and tears come to my eyes whenever I walk past the memorial set up for him by the bell tower. I didn’t know him well but he had a special place in my heart, as someone who was quite simply and quite beautifully just … himself.

Two of my favorite memories of him are from chapel. The first is of him sharing the Pineapple Story – the point that missionaries have sinful natures and character struggles just like anyone else moved me deeply, breaking into my own idealism. It helped me a lot in how I view God and godliness. The second is of an elderly chapel speaker confined to a wheelchair who, although a well-respected guest, went significantly over the time limit for her speech and began to cause all students to be late for their classes. Although many attempts were obviously made to communicate with her discretely, nothing seemed to work to stop the speech. Finally, Dr Cook handled the situation as only the best leader would: with grace and dignity for the trespasser, but also equal respect for the time and needs of the audience. He walked purposefully and noiselessly up to the stage, and promptly wheeled her off. I loved that Dr Cook had guts as well as a gentle spirit. He was such a genuine, open-faced, down-to-earth man, and yet I had a lot of respect for how well he did his job, how much he loved students in his own unique way, and how much integrity he lived his life with. I will miss your presence, Dr Cook. Anna Belle, and all who were close to him, you are in my prayers.

Under the Mercy,

– Katie Peckham


Oh man, so many things….

I remember watching him in chapel. He came to nearly all of them, I think. At any rate, it seems like it. His appearance in student films (the one for the Pops made laugh out loud), obvious care for everyone he interacted with.

My favorite memory of him is a funny one (Micah Hoover, I hope you don’t mind if I tell this one!). Mr Hoover, a fellow member of Lewis group, was wearing a box for Babbs week. It was a cumbersome costume, but rather funny. Mr. Hoover joined myself and Miss Houdyshel (now Mrs. Mancini!) at the dinner table, looking rather odd. When we asked what was wrong, he said that as he was walking to the cafe, he’d heard a loud voice saying, “Young man! Stop right there!” He turned around to find Dr. Cook waving him down (Dr. Cook was not a big fan of Babbs Week, as I recall). Mr. Hoover said he felt very nervous, until Dr. Cook said, “Hold it right there, I want my wife to see your costume!” The Cooks laughed at his costume, and he went on into the cafe. Just as he finished telling the story, who shows up at our table but the Cooks! They sat down to eat dinner with us, chatted with us, and it was very nice.

An odd memory, I’m sure, but a good one. I will miss him very much.

– Elizabeth Weaver


Sadly, we say farewell to a great servant of God. Dr. Cook at last retires to the arms of his Savior.

Although I don’t remember the first time I met Dr. Cook, I remember him always greeting us with the warm salutation, “It’s the Kelleys!”. I treasure the memories of all those small interactions that creates my impression of who he was – a truly gracious man. My Mom told me the other day that she could never send a thank you card to Dr. Cook without receiving one in return. That spoke of his careful attention to detail as well as his duty to etiquette. He valued each and every person and had a talent for setting people at ease. I’ll never forget his bright blue eyes that were so intense and full of kindness.

He was so endearing whether he was sharing his Pineapple Story in chapel, opening formal events by making the audience chuckle, to casual interactions around campus; no matter what he did, he did it well.

One of my best memories is from this past December when I spoke to Dr. Cook after church. I introduced my five-month-old daughter Kaylyn to him. Dr. Cook loved babies and he began making his “tried and true” quacking noise trying to get her smile. She remained a bit stoic – but at the very last, just when he had nearly given up, she gave him a big, glowing smile. Dr. Cook laughed and pleased with the results said, “There’s the smile I was looking for. That made my day”.

I’ll miss you, Dr. Cook. Thank you for the beautiful and godly example you have been to us all.

– Cherilyn (Kelley) Barker


I was truly saddened to hear the news about Dr. Cook. Not only was he a deeply devoted man of faith who was dedicated to Christian academia, but he was just an all around cool guy. He always took interest in the student affairs and made a point to relate to students. Working in the Student Missionary Union I not only saw his commitment to missions, but also his self-deprecating and dry humor. The promotional parody videos that he would be in are all the more memorable and beloved because of his presence. There was not a crazy costume or outrageous situation that he would not do for a laugh. I also fondly recall his Clyde’s Slides that had students in stitches. Not many people can pull off such humor and also be incredibly dignified and command so much respect.

Dr. Cook is a legend in every sense of the word. There is no doubt he was greeted with the words “Well done good and faithful servant.” He will be missed.

– Sharon Fain


I remember when I was at the Biola Centennial Legacy Gala. Once I stepped in the building I had about a 10 minute face to face with Senator Thune in the Press Room. While I was speaking with Thune, Dr. Cook was doing a video interview.

When I was out of the press room and browsing around the reception area, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around a looked up, it was Dr. Cook. He asked me how I was doing. I answered, “I just had a 10 minute face to face with a US Senator, and I gave his assistant my business card!”. He responded with ‘Yes, I noticed that’. At that point he asked for one of my cards from me which I gave him, and I noticed him immediately putting it in the inside of his suit pocket.

For the rest of the evening every time I was around Dr. Cook he smiled, went out of his way to shake my hand, or say a kind word. I realize now that he was making sure I was doing alright because that night was pretty overwhelming, especially having to end the Gala with the closing prayer!

After that night I started to look forward to be able to see Dr. Cook again, especially in the audience for at least one of my films. I do not even know if he has seen any! Yet every time I won an award or was featured in a magazine, I got a letter from him in my mailbox congratulating me.

The night I found out he passed away I was actually at USC looking at their $175 million new film school being built, not in envy of it, but knowing that God is building a place like that at Biola, and Dr. Cook got it started.

Needless to say when I found out the news of his passing at USC I broke down. But then somehow I found the strength to get back up, drive home safely, and continue doing what God has called me to do, what Dr. Cook was so proud of me for, and made sure to show me that since my freshmen year.

– Matthew Jones


I formally met Dr. Cook at the opening of the new library. I had been asked to speak at one of the events for the donors to the library fund. Dr. Cook came up after the ceremony to thank me which surprised me because I was so tickled pink to have been asked to speak, and I wanted to thank him for allowing me the opportunity. It was a short introduction and my speech was only 5 or 10 minutes in length, but he remembered my name evermore and continued to greet me every time we passed each other thereafter, including long after I had graduated and was just on campus to visit. It always struck me as such a sweet and sincere gesture of how much he valued each individual member of the Biola community.

I have always admired Dr. Cook’s passionate commitment to honor everyone he interacted with. It is so telling of his character that so many of the stories being shared to honor him are stories of his efforts to honor others.

Prior engagements prevented my husband and I from attending Dr. Cook’s “farewell tour” stop here in Phoenix, and I am so regretful now that we will never again this side of Heaven have opportunity to interact with such a remarkable man. Through his legacy, we will continue to learn much from him.

– Jennifer Wright

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