Greg from a family photo. He's probably around 3 years old.
Greg was adopted. He never knew who his biological parents were. His adoption was sealed and his uncle, the lawyer who handled things, was always silent on the subject.

Greg concluded he was a product of “post-war exuberance” based on what little he was able to glean. His birthdate of July 15, 1946 suggests it.

Before his death, we talked about whether to have his DNA analyzed. Ultimately, he rejected this option. His mother and father were his real mother and father because they raised him since birth.

Since he had no biological children, his DNA also died with him. His biological origins will never be known.

Greg as a Little Tyke

One of my favorite stories of his childhood occurred when he was just a youngster and his family was enjoying Lake Michigan. They had a cabin at a development on the lake. He had many fond memories of spending time at the lake both with family and on his own.

In this particular story, he was confined to a playpen. He was old enough and aware enough to know that all the other kids were down by the lake. He could see them and that’s where he wanted to be.

He was determined to get there. He started to jostle the playpen around trying to get out of it. He succeeded, sort of. He knocked it over and himself with it, hitting his head on some sort of utility meter and knocking himself out. That was the last time his family tried to “confine” him anywhere.
Greg in is playpen.
The story is somewhat atypical because he was incredibly safety-conscious. Only one year older than his sister who was also adopted, a family movie shows him carefully stabilizing her periodically in her little chair so that she doesn’t fall over in her youthful exuberance.

Kindness Came Naturally

I think kindness and thoughtfulness came naturally to him. One example of this simply evolved, when he was in the third grade.

He had his full height of six feet three and a half inches when he was sixteen. I don’t know how big he was in third grade, but he certainly would have been bigger than most of the other kids.

He was a little vague on how it all began, but he took a circuitous route to school and home every day, picking up various kids at their homes, as their protector, both boys and girls. They were being bullied by others. His walking them to school and home protected them from being bullied.
Greg feeding his little sister.

Like everyone, he occasionally had problems with being bullied himself. It was a different era and his father’s instruction to him can only be understood in the context of the times, “You can defend yourself but you can’t throw the first punch.”

Sometimes this resulted in him and his persecutor dancing around each other until the other kid took a swing at him. One of these encounters resulted in him actually knocking his opponent unconscious. Greg thought he’d killed him which had him extremely frightened.
Greg reading to his little sister.

He stayed with the kid until he came to. Greg helped him home to his door where the boy expressed his gratitude to him. The kid never bullied Greg again.

Chemistry Fun

Greg certainly had his share of fun growing up. He remarked that he learned more chemistry in the basement of his friend’s home than he ever did in school.

Greg fishing.
His friend’s father owned some sort of company that used chemicals. Greg and his friend had access to any chemical they wanted. They spent many hours in the basement of the kid’s home mixing chemicals, designing bombs, rockets and whatnot, generally being mischievous boys.

They tested and set off their rockets and bombs at a nearby golf course, often running from the course employees who took a somewhat dimmer view of their chemical experiments.

Shooting Foray

One of his friends had access to some exotic weapons. Greg and his friend would occasionally go out shooting with these weapons which included automatic models unavailable, and illegal, in the United States. (He specifically mentioned a German Mauser, Luger and Japanese Nambu.)
Greg in the lake.

On one of these shooting forays with his friend and these exotic weapons, they found themselves pinned down by the arrival of a group of drunken cowboys who taunted them and started shooting over their heads.

Greg and his friend hit the dirt. They were unable to flee in their vehicle because of the cowboys' proximity to it. They crawled through the dirt until they were directly behind the cowboys. Greg’s friend then stood up. Flipping one of the weapons to its automatic setting, he yelled, “Hey!”

When the cowboys turned around, he pointed the gun at the earth and sent a stream of automatic fire to within ten feet of their toes. The cowboys turned and ran. As far as we know them cowboys is still runnin …

Greg in 1963
His Life Preserved for a Higher Purpose

When Greg was about 15, an unusual and spiritual event occurred that convinced him that a higher power existed and he was being preserved for some, as yet unknown, purpose.

I’ll let him tell the story:

My being Saved from Drowning  [written on 07/27/2015]

I grew up with a family cottage in a woods behind the sand dunes on the shore of Lake Michigan, in Harbert, Michigan. My summers were spent in the water. 

During the summer of my fifteenth birthday I was life guarding for the Prairie Club community association, where our cottage was. On a day when the waves were five to six feet high, with some occasionally higher, a group of teens were floating on a black ten man rubber raft [military surplus from World War II] that was anchored to a bunch of concrete building blocks so that we bounced around out in water that was over our heads deep. Since the waves were too high for swimmers, I was able to be out on the raft with my friends. As we rode the waves, it was sort of like riding a bucking horse in the rodeo. When we were knocked off of the raft, we’d just swim back to the raft and climb back on.

On this day, there was a strong undertow current in sections. One time when I was knocked off the raft, I kept coming up towards the surface only to find that I was under the raft, which had a hard rubber surface with nothing to grab onto. As I tried to get out from under the raft, the waves and the under current prevented me from getting away from being under the raft. I finally gave up hope and in my mind told God that it was up to Him what happened to me; but that, if He saved me, I would do what He wanted for the rest of my life. I then immediately saw a pair of large men’s arms reaching down into the water and grabbing me. The next moment I was sitting back on top of the raft with my friends.

I asked them who had saved me, since the man’s arms were large and covered with hair and were so different from my friends’ arms. They told me that there was not anyone else there and they saw no one. Nor did they see me get back onto the raft, which would be impossible for them not to, due to its small size and open top. I was already very large for my age at 6’3” tall and was much bigger than the other two boys on the raft, plus they did not yet have hairy arm. As I scanned the water and the shoreline, I saw that there was no one else there.

This experience totally amazed me and I left the raft to swim to shore to think about things. I was raised in a strongly religious Methodist family, but we did not believe that miracles still occurred and were only in Biblical times. I could not talk about this with anyone.

I then thought that maybe I was to become a minister and pondered that for some time. However I was a shy, quiet boy at that time and was terrified at the thought of having to give sermons and speak in front of others. It was many years thereafter before I was able to learn about what God wanted me to do with my life.

Greg in his senior picture.

Next: Part 2: Tribute to My Husband Greg Cook - His Education, His Time in Management and His Career

Continue reading at the original source →