Cover photo for James H. Cook's Obituary
James H. Cook Profile Photo
1939 Jim 2023

James H. Cook

October 20, 1939 — December 16, 2023

Unity Township

James H. Cook, 84, of Unity Township, PA, Chautauqua, NY, Cook's Island, NW Ontario and Dennis Cay, Exuma Bahamas; formerly of Mt. Pleasant and Pittsburgh, died Saturday, December 16, 2023. He attended Phillips Academy, Andover MA class of 1957 and Carnegie Institute of Technology, BA Arch '62. Jim practiced Architecture mostly in Pittsburgh and SW PA. He worked 10 years in the firm, Paul Schweikher and Associates. Projects included WQED, Duquesne Student Union, Knoxville Branch of the Carnegie Library, scattered hillside housing for the Pittsburgh Housing Authority, high rise housing and a couple theater complexes. Jim gutted and rebuilt his 4 story family home in the Shadyside neighborhood of Pittsburgh. He designed and built a super insulated case study home at Bear Rocks, PA. His last design is of a four unit Bed and Breakfast on Dennis Cay island. His work has been featured in national and international magazines. He was the owner of Cook Homes Inc, a construction company building mostly residences in SW PA. Over 30 young families paid $100 down payment under a Farmers Home program and obtained their first home. He marketed architect designed home material packages to provide affordable housing. He and his wife Jill operated the J.H.Cook Co. Inc., dba Build-It, a lumber and home center which included a hobby shop and tool rental in Mt. Pleasant. Another business interest was The Turtle Creek Valley Railroad, Inc. operating a tourist train between Export and Murrysville. As a photographer and architectural historian, he and James D. VanTrump collaborated on an exhibit of the Pittsburgh architect Fredrick Scheibler at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh. He also gave programs on the architectural history of Chautauqua Institution including one evening at the amphitheater with fellow architect, Francis Booth, of NYC. His public service began in scouting as Packmaster for the Shadyside Cub Scout troop. His involvement with Rotary International included District Chairman of Youth Exchange and District Chairman of International Group Study Exchange. He served on Library Boards, 25 years on Mt. Pleasant Planning Commission mostly as Chairman and is a past President of the Chamber of Commerce, Homes Build Hope Board, Touchstone Center for Arts and Crafts Board, The Westmoreland County Red Cross Board and was a member and Past President of the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra Board. For many years he and his wife were supporters of The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, including being members of The Westmoreland Society. Jim's life long love of music included playing in the Chautauqua Student Symphony, being President of the Band at Andover, and in the orchestra of his friends yearly Occasional Opera Co. in NYC. After 50 years, he went back and played in The Old Guard Aces (dance band) and Brass (brass choir) at Andover. (Oh, his wife wished all those CD's had been investment instruments instead of just music.) Many hours were spent hiking, backpacking and canoeing in wilderness places. He and the family built a cabin on a remote island in NW Ontario. Retirement gave him more time to play tennis with all his Greensburg and Chautauqua friends. And there was more time for photography mostly at the two islands. He's also a past member of The Associated Artists of Pittsburgh. He was predeceased by his parents Dan and Dorothy Cook of Mt. Pleasant and Chautauqua, his brother Dan Welty Cook of Guatemala and his son, Dan Erich Cook of Mt. Pleasant. Jim is survived by his wife of 66 years, Jill Bollinger Cook, sons Arnold James Cook (Edith Lassegard) of Fox Chapel, and Otis Welty Cook of Torrington CT., daughter in law Barbara Martin Cook of Sewickley and seven grandchildren, Christin and Adam Cook, Talora Martin Rubio and Jocelyn Martin, Cyrus Cook, Maxwell Cook and Quentin Cook. He is survived by a sister Martha McCausland. Jim’s family has entrusted his care to the Pantalone Funeral Home Inc., Greensburg.  For online condolences / directions, visit us at Natale N. Pantalone, supervisor.

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