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Deborah M. “Debbie” Cook

Deborah M. “Debbie” Cook

TOWSON, MD—Deborah Young “Debbie” Cook passed away peacefully at Gilchrist Hospice Center, Towson, Md., on August 15, 2023, where she was surrounded by family. She was 73 years old.

She was predeceased by her parents, Otto T. Young and Eleanor P. Young (Parke), her beloved husband of 51 years, Theodore W. Cook; and her cherished son, Scott W. Cook.

Debbie was born in Princeton, N.J., on July 30, 1950, and was raised in Rocky Hill, N.J., surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins and loved living in a small town. She believed that you could take the girl out of the small town, but you can’t take the small town out of the girl. She met her one true love Ted in this town, one hot August day when they were 14 years old.

Memories of her childhood and attendance at a two-room schoolhouse provided the values for her life and basis for her educational philosophy years later. Debbie attended Princeton High School (1968), received her bachelor’s from the College of NJ (1972) and master’s from Rider University (1991) where she was awarded the Robert L. Foose Annual Graduate Award in Educational Administration.

A dedicated and devoted wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister and aunt, she is survived by her son, Peter T. Cook and his wife Cathy, of Frankfort, Ill.; her daughter Dr. Kristin D. Cook, DDS and her husband, Adam Boozer of Elkridge, Md.; her precious grandchildren and joys of her life, Hannah, Eleanor, Koal, Declan, Liam and Kaitlin; and her great-grandson, Oliver. Also left to mourn her are those like daughters, Heather Ireland of Stevenson, Md., and Kim Lant of Newark, N.J.

Upon her retirement, Ted and Debbie relocated to Maryland to be nearer to Kristin (Adam) and her youngest grandchildren and a convenient airport where they could easily travel to visit Peter and his family in Illinois.

Missing her also are her sisters and brothers-in-law, Beverly (Robert) Cramer and Carolyn (Ben) Foose; sister-in-law, Maureen Cook; brothers-in-law, Richard (Trish) Cook and Stephen (Cindy) Cook; a special niece, Melissa Cramer Fetterolf; and special nephews, Larry Embry and David Cramer, who spent many hours with her in their childhoods.

Debbie was a valued member of the independent school community and began her educational career at a one-room schoolhouse where she affirmed her calling to education. Her commitment to education then led her to The Pennington School serving as teacher, dean of the middle school, academic dean, assistant head of school, and interim head of school from 1978 through 1993 before moving to Maryland where she served as the head of school at St. Timothy’s School from 1993-2002. She then was head of school at Lake Ridge Academy (Ohio), and finally head of school at Chesapeake Academy from 2007-2017.

She also served on committees of regional independent school associations and particularly enjoyed visiting schools as chair of accreditation committees. She had a special gift for seeing what needed to be done to allow the schools to reach their fullest potential. Debbie retired after a successful 45-year career in education. She loved the interaction with students, faculty and parents, and thrived in meeting the challenges of being a school leader. Throughout her long career as educator and head of schools, she influenced many lives and was a natural mentor and school leader.

In her retirement Debbie wanted to spend as much time as possible with the people she loved. She spent precious time caring for her mother. She would bring her grandchildren to their piano lessons, soccer practices et cetera just to get that special time in the car to catch up with them. She would talk daily with her friends and family to stay connected and let them know how loved they were.

Debbie was a loyal friend. Those lucky enough to be able to call her a friend knew that she would do anything in her power to make their lives better, easier, or more fulfilling. She gave 100% to everything she believed in. She did not get as much time in retirement as we all wished for her, but she made the most of every day.

Debbie will be remembered as a compassionate, well-spoken, hardworking, honest, steadfast, fearless woman ahead of her time that still delighted in the small things. We are sad to lose such an amazing woman, but we are all better for the love she showed each of us through the years.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend her memorial service at 1 p.m., October 8, at the United Methodist Church, 60 South Main Street, Pennington, N.J., with a reception to follow in the Silva Gallery of Art at The Pennington School.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be given in Debbie’s memory to The Pennington School, 112 West Delaware Avenue, Pennington, NJ 08534; St. Timothy’s School, 8400 Greenspring Ave., Stevenson, MD 21153; Chesapeake Academy, P.O. Box 8, Irvington, VA 22480; The Maryland Food Bank; or a charity of your choosing.

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