Udell V. Cook, age 91 of Highland, IL, died Tuesday, August 16, 2022, at Barnes-Jewish Hospital (BJC) in Saint Louis, MO.
Udell, named after a heroic young man in a Christian book, was born on Friday, June 19, 1931, in Highland, IL, the son of Isaac and Stella (nee Frey) Cook.
On Saturday, October 17, 1953 at the age of 22, he married Kathryn A. (nee Noll) Cook at E & R Church, St. Jacob, Illinois. Kathryn passed away last year in April 2021, after 67 years of marriage to Udell.
Udell was a longtime member of Saint Jacob United Church of Christ, served extensively on the Church Council, was an active and respected participant in the Madison County Farm Bureau and Masonic Lodge #355, A.F. & A.M. (Masons)-Marine.
Udell grew up southwest of Highland on the small family farm. He attended Frey Country School and graduated from St. Jacob High School. He worked the farm until he was drafted into the US Army and served on active duty during the Korean War. He and Kathryn moved as newlyweds to where he was stationed at Ft. Belvoir, in Virginia.
After his military service, Udell owned and operated a farm south of Marine. Initially a dairy farm, over time he converted it to a grain farm and livestock operation. While remaining a full-time farmer, for 10 years Udell was a licensed realtor, specializing in selling farm property. Udell maintained a lifelong interest in the value of agricultural and related property.
Udell and Kathryn enjoyed worldwide and domestic travel. They enjoyed visiting Arizona often .. and also sailed the Panama Canal and toured in Europe. They became accomplished dancers over their 7 decade romance. Udell enjoyed the outdoors in general and gardening in particular. He especially liked growing tomatoes and had an annual goal to have tomatoes to enjoy by his birthday in June.
Conservation was an early and important focus in his life. In recognition, Udell received the ‘St. Clair County Outstanding Accomplishments In Conservation of Soil, Water and Related Resources Award’ in 1986, and the Madison County, ‘Conservationist Farmer of the Year’ Award in 1995.
Udell believed in physical fitness, lifelong learning and living an active life. On his 90th birthday he enthusiastically climbed all 154 steps of Monks Mound at Cahokia Mounds and celebrated that he made it to the top for the rest of his life. He was very proud of his children (the ‘Cook 5’ as they are still known). Udell had developed a strong belief in the importance of academics and each of his children achieved college degrees. That philosophy has carried through to his grandchildren.
Survivors include: son-Rodney V. (Rebecca) Cook, Mascoutah, IL, daughter-Rhonda K. Kern, PHD, O’Fallon, IL, daughter-Karla M. (Mark) Haun, Edwardsville, IL, son-Kevin J. (Kathryn) Cook (twin), Collinsville, IL, son-Keith J. (Christine) Cook (twin), Mascoutah, IL, 10 grandchildren, 17 great grandchildren, sister-Evagene A. Gusewelle, Highland, IL.
He was preceded in death by: parents-Isaac H. and Stella M. (nee Frey) Cook, wife-Kathryn A. (nee Noll) Cook, son in-law-Kevin P. Kern, brother-Morris S. Cook, sister-Doris Cook (twin to Morris).
Arrangements are being handled by Spengel-Boulanger Funeral Home in Highland, IL.
Visitation: 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM, Sunday, August 21, 2022, at Spengel-Boulanger Funeral Home in Highland, IL and from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM on Monday, August 22, 2022, at Saint Jacob United Church of Christ in Saint Jacob, IL.
Funeral Service: 11:00 AM on Monday, August 22, 2022, at Saint Jacob United Church of Christ in Saint Jacob, IL.
Interment will be at Keystone Cemetery in Saint Jacob, IL.
Memorial contributions may be made to Keystone Cemetery or St. Jacob United Church of Christ.