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John Cook, former Roanoke Times photographer, has died

July 29, 2020 GMT

ROANOKE, Va. (AP) — An award-winning photographer who worked for The Roanoke Times for four decades has died.

The newspaper reports that John Cook passed away Sunday, just two days after his 84th birthday.

Cook was cool under pressure and thrived on the hectic pace of the news business. He loved being where the action was, whether it was a sports game or a breaking news event. He once got so close to the scene of a police call that a suspect with a gun walked by and said hello.

“He was a true professional,” said Steve Helber, an Associated Press photographer.


A native of Vinton, Virginia, Cook started at the paper in 1955. Rapid shutter speeds and digital cameras existed only in the future. But single-use flashbulbs and dark rooms were still part of the job.

He won numerous awards. For example, the National Press Photographers Association honored Cook for photos he took that documented a gun battle between police and a man who killed a co-worker.

“John was a local boy so he knew a lot of people and had opportunities to get places or to get to talk to people that other guys didn’t,” said Wayne Deel, who worked with Cook for more than 30 years.

Cook went onto become the paper’s director of photography and ran a staff that Helber said earned a stellar reputation. His tenure at the paper ended in the mid-1990s.

Cook is survived by his wife Patsy, two daughters and three grandchildren.