Gary Cook Memorial

The Mississippi Band Community Mourns the loss of Gary Cook, DSU Director of Bands from 1989-1997.  

Mr. Cook  81, of Sumrall, passed away Wednesday, September 29, 2021 at Magnolia Place in Sumrall, MS.  The family has asked that donations be made to the Delta State University band program in Mr. Cook’s memory (please use form below).

Gary Cook was born May 7, 1940, in Bon Homie, Mississippi. He began music studies as a cornet student in the fifth grade at Century Elementary School in Century, Florida. Cook’s family moved to Sumrall, Mississippi in 1951, where he continued his music studies with Reed Carter. Cook moved from cornet to euphonium during his junior year at Sumrall High School.  In 1958 he earned the first chair position in the Mississippi Lion’s All-State Band.  After graduating with honors from Sumrall High School in 1958, he enrolled at The University of Southern Mississippi. As an undergraduate, he was greatly influenced by Dr. Raymond Mannoni, Robert Hayes, Dr. Gamer Pound, Dr. Gilbert Satre, Raymond Young, and Dr. William Moody. He received his bachelor’s degree in Music Education in the spring of 1962 and began his teaching career that fall at Carr Junior High School in Vicksburg, MS.

In 1963, Mr. Cook accepted the position of Band Director at Petal High School. During his ten years at Petal, enrollment in the band program doubled and his groups earned twenty-five superior ratings in contests.  In 1973, Mr. Cook became the Band Director at Blair High School and the Supervisor of Instrumental Music for the Hattiesburg Public Schools – a position he would hold until 1976, when he returned to The University of Southern Mississippi to begin his doctoral studies.  As a graduate student at USM, he served as the Assistant Director of the Marching Band and the Conductor of the Varsity Concert Band.   

In 1977, Mr. Cook accepted the position of Director of Bands in the Warren County School in Vicksburg – a position he would hold for 12 years. His responsibilities included supervision of music faculty at the elementary, junior, and senior high schools, as well as directing the Warren Central marching, symphonic, and jazz bands. Under Cook’s baton, the Warren Central bands received superior ratings at every contest they entered, including “Best in Class: 5A Concert Band” at the Festival of Champions in Panama City, Florida. His Symphonic Band was featured at the USM Instrumental Conductors Conference and the Southeastern United States Band Clinic in Troy, Alabama.

In 1989, Mr. Cook became the Director of Bands at Delta State University in Cleveland, MS, where he would remain for the rest of his career. At Delta State his duties included conducting the Wind Ensemble, the Marching Band, and supervising student teachers.

Mr. Cook collected many honors during the course of his career.  These include: Mississippi Economic Council’s Star Teacher; Phi Beta Mu’s “Most Outstanding Director” in 1971 and 1985; Director of Mississippi Lions All-State Band in 1977, 1980 and 1983; the “MAC” Award, a national award recognizing outstanding band directors, in 1977 and 1986; National Federation’s Outstanding Music Educator in the Southeastern States in 1989; National Band Association’s Citation of Excellence in 1994; Phi Mu Alpha’s Orpheus Award in 1996; Executive Board of the Mississippi Bandmasters Association in 1984 and served as its President in 1987-1988; President of Delta Chapter, Phi Beta Mu in 1995-1996.

Mr. Cook appeared as marching and concert adjudicator throughout the southeastern United States throughout his career and was a member of the Mississippi Association of Educators, Mississippi Bandmasters Association, Kappa Kappa Psi, Phis Beta Mu, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Phi Kappa Phi, and Pi Kappa Lambda.