Terrell Buford Cook, Sr.
Buford Cook went home to be with the Lord on Thursday, May 3, 2012. The owner and operator of Pine Leaf Investments, he lived a remarkable life that touched many people. He was born on June 21, 1932 to Ray Vaughn “Varney” and Susan Brown Cook, the sixth of seven children, his childhood was filled with stories about his brothers, sisters and cousins working and playing together. In his childhood, he acquired a love of music and could play the piano, guitar, fiddle or any other instrument by ear. Buford was well known for playing the Buford boogie. He loved to play the piano and he could make it sing.
God blessed Buford and guided him throughout his life. God blessed him with the ability and determination to work. Buford had a great positive attitude – he thought he could accomplish anything he tried. One of the defining moments of his life was when he was 12 and his father, Varney, fell from a chimney and was injured. His dad showed him how to make concrete blocks in a hand press. They built a small block building and opened a country store to help support the family. Buford’s dedication and love for his parents was his main priority. He prayed to God to let him live to take care of his mama and daddy. Buford plowed behind a mule, breaking a few inches of ground each time. He planted cotton, dipped turpentine, raised hogs, stacked lumber, worked at Robins Air Force Base and anything else to help the family survive, including constructing numerous bridges. Those difficult times forged a person who always strived to do better but never, as he said, “got above his raising” and “always appreciate where you came from.”
Buford graduated from Rhine High School in 1950 and was voted Most Likely to Succeed and five years later he purchased the cotton gin in Milan. He successfully ran the gin for about eight years. It was during this time in Milan that he met the love of his life, Sheila. They began a love affair that has lasted more than 46 years. Sheila was Buford’s foundation and his partner in all of his endeavors.
Buford was a member of McRae United Methodist Church and served as director in many positions of leadership with the Georgia Healthcare Association, was a Rotarian and a 50-year Mason. He attended the University of Georgia and Georgia Southwestern and was a stockholder of the Merchants and Citizens Bank. Buford served as chairman of the Job Training Partnership Act under Governor Joe Frank Harris.
Buford was presented a flag in recognition of his accomplishments and service to others, which had flown over the U.S. Capitol, by Senator Max Cleland.
It is said that there are two dates we remember – our birthday and the day we meet the Lord. The time between these dates makes the difference. Buford made a wonderful difference in so many lives. He made such an impact on the patients and families he cared for in the Nursing Homes he owned and operated. In 1965, God guided him to build McRae Manor Nursing Home for his parents. He went on to build Dublinair Nursing Home, Quiet Oaks (Crawford) and Bryan County Health and Rehab. He purchased Madison Health and Rehab and also manages Wrightsville Manor. All of these facilities are managed by Pine Leaf Investments, which he established in 1984.
Matthew 25:40 says, “Whatever you have done for the least of these you have done unto me.” He lived and practiced this verse. Buford lived a remarkable life and his legacy will live on in the homes he built that have cared for so many over the years.
Buford’s four precious grandchildren loved their Papa dearly. He felt great joy in attending all of their ballgames, church musicals and dance recitals. He loved hunting and fishing with them. They were the light of his life and he was their heart.
We read these notes everyday during his illness and it gave him strength:
Shayla describes it best when she wrote this to her Papa, “I love you! You are always there with me in my heart and he prays when I fall. I am okay because you are there with me. You work so hard for us. We would not have what we have if it wasn’t for you. Just dropping by to say I love you a lot. You are the best!”
Grant wrote among his 10 reasons his Papa should get better, “so we can go hunting and fishing, you can come to ballgames and Honors Night, we can go to prayer breakfast together, you need to watch the Nursing Home, so we can go to Rock Eagle together, so you can see me grow up and that I have the best grandpa in the whole world. I love you, Papa!”
Grace said, “I love Papa very much. You have always been there for me and you mean the world to me…I pray for you each night.”
Sophie would always say, “I love you, too, Papa!” She and her Papa share the same birthday, June 21st.
Buford was preceded in death by brothers and sisters, Montine (A.J.) Wallace, L.V. (Elizabeth “Toots”) Cook, Fostell Cook Studstill, Hugh Cook, Audrey (Jerome) Studstill, sister-in-law, June Williams, and niece, Suzette Studstill Sanders.
He is survived by his loving wife, Sheila Williams Cook; a daughter, Shann Cook; son, Terry (Heather) Cook; and grandchildren, Grace, Grant, Shayla and Sophie Cook, all of McRae; sister, Barbara Sue (Bill) Thornton, Ellijay; sister-in-law, Elizabeth Cook, Myrtle Beach, SC; brothers-in-laws, Gene (Rebecca) Williams, Milan; Grady (Emma Jean) Williams, McRae; and David (Rita) Williams, Milan; and nieces and nephews, Billy Wallace (Carolyn) Cook, Vaughn (Drake) Tilley, Dane Cook, Amy (Michael) Ryals, Kim Goodman, Dallas Goodman, Susan Cook, Vicki (Mike) Morgan, Cindy (Tommy) Greene, Gina (Lonnie) Roberts, Dave Williams, Doug (Tammy) Williams, Derek (Joy) Williams and John (Katharine) Williams.
Funeral services for Buford were held at 3 p.m., Tuesday, May 8, at the McRae United Methodist Church with burial in the Oak Grove Cemetery.
Contributions may be made to the McRae United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 8, McRae, GA 31055, or to Georgia Healthcare Association Buford and Sheila Cook Scholarship Fund, 160 County Club Dr., Stockbridge, GA 30228.
Buford, we appreciate all of your sacrifices that you made to build a better future for us. We will cherish the memories of his outstanding life and remember the lessons he taught us and take comfort in the reunion God has promised.
To express condolences please visit www.vaughnfh.com.
Printed in the May 10, 2012 edition.