A soft-spoken school employee who has made sure that Clarke County students were well fed for 36 years is retiring.
Mary Alice Cook has been caring for Clarke’s kids for so long that her original D. G. Cooley Elementary school job application was filled out on a “ditto” form. (For our more youthful readers, “ditto” technology involved a hand-turned rubber wheel that pressed purple-blue inked print on to a sheet of paper one page at a time. The alcohol smell from the process was overpowering and the person turning the wheel invariably became covered with blue ink. Just sayin’â€¦)
With deep emotion and respect in his voice and face, Rick Catlett told the school board that he has had the honor of knowing Cook for a long time.
“I’ve known Ms. Cook for 20 years,” Catlett said. “She treats everyone with respect and as if they were her friend. I doubt that Ms. Cook has ever met a stranger.”
Catlett praised the fine meals that Mary Cook has prepared for generations of Clarke students, especially her exceptional baking skills.
“Ms. Cook used to bake biscuits and homemade breads in the school cafeteria,” Catlett recounted. “Kids would line up to get one of her biscuits.”
“We are really going to miss her,” Catlett said.
Several school staff and school board members thanked Cook for the service that she gave to their children as well as all of the children’s lives she has touched through her gift of wholesome and well prepared meals.
“Ms. Cook is a dear friend and neighbor of mine,” said school board member Jennifer Welliver. “I don’t know what I’d do without her.”