Lodwrick Monroe Cook
A LEGACY OF LEADERSHIP AND LOYALTY
1928 - 2020
I saw my role as a catalyst.
Free Enterprise Advocate
…I think by and large the government should do those things that it is expected to do: protect the country, provide the judicial system that maintains stability in our lives, etc. and try to get out of the way of some of the areas that frees people up to have as much opportunity to create on their own what they need to do to be as unfettered as possible. I gain strength from some of the bible readings that I feel are important in my life. One of them is Romans 8:28 which says 'All things work for the good for those that love the Lord that are called according to His purpose.' I don’t know where I am called to His purpose necessarily or not but I like to think about that verse sometimes.
- Lod Cook Quote from CSPAN Interview
LOD COOK – the man behind the Lod Cook Alumni Center and The Cook Hotel – began life in small-town Louisiana. Hot water came from a kettle on a wood-burning stove, he was third in his class of five graduates of Grand Cane High School, he lived and milked cows in the “old cow barn” to earn room and board while at LSU, and he started his career as “an engineering trainee digging ditches.”
From those humble roots, Lod Cook achieved phenomenal success – and remembering his remarkable experiences at LSU, he used his standing and resources to make a difference at his alma mater, in Louisiana, and around the world. Lauded for unparalleled leadership exploits and business acumen as
chief executive officer of ARCO, he was thrust into the political arena and worked at arm’s reach with Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter, and working relationships with these commanders in chief grew into close friendships. Presidents Bush, Ford, and Carter were special guests at the grand opening of the alumni center in 1994, and Bush returned for the dedication of the LSU War Memorial and the dedication of the Lod & Carole Cook Hotel and Conference Center.
In remarks made at the twentieth anniversary celebration of the Lod Cook Alumni Center, he recalled being asked years back by then-LSU Alumni Association President Charlie Roberts, “How does the Lod Cook Alumni Center sound?”
“I had to ‘sleep on it’ – having one’s name on a building is a little daunting. But I was excited about doing something different. ARCO traditionally endowed chairs and funded scholarships in honor of outgoing chairmen. I wanted to direct funds as a lead gift for the alumni building. I never had the notion that the building was to exalt me but rather my name might be a focal point, a leverage to attract financing. I saw my role as a catalyst. I would not have been a part of it – nor would this Association be the extraordinary organization that it is today – if one man had not asked me, “What do you think of the Lod Cook Alumni Center?”
Lod Cook was a visionary. His gifts enabled the creation of structures and businesses that generate revenue to continually support LSU and its thriving community. His hope was that his philanthropy would inspire his peers and the next generation of LSU alumni, fans, and friends to also give back to the University. He was proof that success can be had through the love of people and the love of life. Thanks to the foundation laid and example set by Lod Cook, LSU alumni and future alumni will chart their paths to successful lives filled with love by “influencing the middle,” as he did.
Cook was Trustee of the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation and former Chairman and Lifetime Trustee of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation. He was a member of the Oxford University Chancellor’s Court of Benefactors, a Life Regent of Pepperdine University, and served on the board of advisors of the Carter Center of Emory University Board of Directors.
His financial contributions and work with the Library Foundation of Los Angeles led to the dedication of the Lodwrick Cook Rotunda in the library's downtown Los Angeles location. Cook received the Golden Plate Award and inducted into the American Academy of Achievement in 1992. In 1994, upon appointment by Queen Elizabeth II, , he was invested by the Prince of Wales with the Insignia of Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) for his contribution to Anglo-American relations and support for philanthropic projects around the world. Cook was named a Louisiana Legend by Louisiana Public Broadcasting in 1995. He was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 2000.
An interviewer once asked Lod Cook what he’d like people to say about him when his passed from the "great stage of life.” Cook replied: “I always kid people that on my headstone, they’d write, ‘Gee, what a guy!’”
Indeed he was.