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Kayci Cook and John E. Cook

The Cook Family of Arizona

Kayci Cook Collins and John E. Cook

To date, only one family in America has spent four generations working in the national park system: the Cook family of Arizona.

John O. Cook, Montezuma Castle National Monument, circa 1955 Add to Scrapbook

John O. Cook, Montezuma Castle National Monument, circa 1955

It began with John Edwin Cook at Grand Canyon, who passed on his passion to his son, John Oliver Cook, who grew up to work for the National Park Service at the Canyon and then went on to become a superintendent at several other parks.

John Oliver's son, John E. Cook, carried on the family tradition, joining the park service the day he graduated from high school. In 1966, he was appointed superintendent at Canyon de Chelly National Monument and worked for a number of years as superintendent at parks around the Navajo Nation. In 1972, he was recognized by the Navajo tribe with the Outstanding Service to the Navajo People Award. At age 37, he became associate director of the NPS and was the guiding force behind numerous NPS programs, including the 1976 bicentennial celebration.

John E. Cook in Alaska, 1970s Add to Scrapbook

John E. Cook in Alaska, 1970s

John E. Cook at historic trapper’s cabin, Kobuk Valley, Alaska, 1982 Add to Scrapbook

John E. Cook at historic trapper’s cabin, Kobuk Valley, Alaska, 1982

One of his greatest achievements was the challenge of handling the politics of the 47-million-acre expansion of the national park system with the passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in 1978. Later, he served as superintendent of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In 1994, Cook received the Pugsley Award "in recognition of his over 30 years in significant leadership roles in the National Park Service."

His daughter, Kayci Cook Collins, followed in his footsteps and is the superintendent of El Malpais and El Morro National Monuments in New Mexico. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Alaska Regional Director's first annual Summit Award, a regional Appleman-Judd Award for Cultural Resources Stewardship, a regional Tilden Freeman Award for Interpretation, and a Crystal Owl Award for Employee Development.

Next bio: Gerard Baker

Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park

Send Email Postcards

Create personalized postcards using images from The National Parks series and email them to friends or family.

View with fog in valley and peaks lighted by sunset, winter; Yosemite National Park

Download Wallpapers

Download some of the glorious images from the documentary to enjoy on your desktop.

Untold Stories

Untold Stories

Discover the "hidden" stories of the national parks that explore the role of minorities in the creation and protection of the parks.

National Park Service rangers

Visit America's Best Idea

You own 391 national parks. Come for a visit and take away the experience of a lifetime. Help the National Park Service make America's Best Idea even better!

Bank of America Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr Fund Corporation for Public Broadcasting The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations Park Foundation

National Park Foundation The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation The Pew Charitable TrustsGM

THE NATIONAL PARKS: AMERICA'S BEST IDEA is a co-production of

Florentine Films and WETA

 

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