David O. Cooke, 'Mayor of the Pentagon' Dies
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jun. 25, 2002 The flags at the Defense Department were lowered to half-staff today in honor of the man many called the Mayor of the Pentagon.
David O. Cooke died June 22 as a result of injuries sustained during a car accident June 6. Cooke, 82, was the department's highest-ranking career civil servant as the director of administration and management and director of Washington Headquarters Services.
Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke this morning expressed her condolences to Cooke's family and his many friends in the Pentagon.
"For 44 years, he brought extraordinary dedication and skill to his job," she said. "As the 'Mayor of the Pentagon' he contributed so much, day-in and day-out, to how this place functions. We will all miss him."
Cooke was born in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1920. He graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1941. He earned his masters degree from the State University of New York at Albany in 1942.
He served in the Navy during World War II and later earned his law degree from the George Washington University here in 1951. That year he went back on active duty and served in a number of posts until he retired as a Navy captain in 1968.
Cooke has been involved with Defense Department management issues since 1958, when he served on Defense Secretary Neil McElroy's task force on DoD reorganization. He served under Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and helped institute sweeping changes in departmental management.
Following his Navy retirement, Cooke headed DoD's Office of Organizational and Management Planning. That job evolved into his final post.
"Doc" Cooke was an institution in the Pentagon and the rest of the DoD buildings and offices in Washington. In January 2001, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld remarked how when he was defense secretary the first time in 1976, he met Doc Cooke. When he came back, one of the first people he met was Doc Cooke.
Cooke was responsible for the physical plant and personnel administration of the Pentagon. His responsibilities for security, maintenance and operations in the building earned him the title "Mayor."
Cooke received numerous awards for his work. He received the DoD Medal for Distinguished Civilian Service seven times. He also received the DoD Medal for Outstanding Public Service and the DoD Medal for Distinguished Public Service two times. Both medals are rarely awarded to career civil servants.
Cooke is survived by his daughter, Michele Sutton, and sons, Lot Cooke and David O. Cooke Jr. His wife, Marion, passed away in 1999. He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Va., overlooking the Pentagon.