By Glenna Burns
The story of Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie’s diagnosis of brain cancer has touched many Canadians. We all remember the excitement of hosting the band here for a fabulous outdoor show several years after the band’s song, “Bobcaygeon” put our little village on the map.
But the community has another connection to this sad story of Gord’s illness.
The neurosurgeon who has been operating on and caring for Gord, is none other than I. E. Weldon Secondary School alumnus, DJ Cook.
Dr. Cook is well known to Weldon graduates because he comes home every year to present the Doug Cook Award in memory of his Dad, a teacher who died too young while working at Bobcaygeon Public School.
He gives the award to “a rural graduating student pursuing post-secondary studies who is going to be a teacher. This student does not necessarily have the highest grades but is a hard worker.”
What is remarkable about Dr. Cook’s story is that no matter where he was studying, whether at the University of Toronto or far away at California’s Stanford University, he always came home in June to present his father’s memorial award.
Weldon Principal Mark Cossarin said that long before Dr. Cook’s connection to Gord Downie became public news, the school had planned, at this June 30 graduation ceremony, to induct DJ into the Weldon Alumni Hall where the school honours its distinguished grads.
Certainly Dr. Cook is a grad worthy of induction onto IEW’s honour roll. He can add that to his many other well deserved accomplishments in teaching, neurosurgery and stroke research.
Promoter reporter Glenna Burns taught for many years at I. E. Weldon, until her recent retirement.