Meet Linda J. Cook, An Accomplished Woman of Resolve

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Linda J. Cook was born to Marilyn and Gordon Dick in the late 1950s when America’s economy was still enjoying the benefits of the post-war boom. Her parent’s political activism and interests in life deeply impacted her own path. Her mother was a woman as devoted to conservatism as she was to Christianity, serving as a delegate to the Republican National Convention that nominated Barry Goldwater as the presidential candidate in 1964. Cook recalls she was at the tender age of seven when she first boasted about sharing a birthday with Goldwater. The vacant stares, and puzzled looks coming from her peers did not dissuade her from continuing to claim the distinction.

Her father was a private pilot, bronc riding cowboy, and real estate broker dealing solely in large working ranches with associate brokerages in Oregon, Idaho, and Nevada. He was also a Western Water Law expert, who consulted with the Secretary of the Interior in the Reagan Administration.

That is the setting for a mind steeped in logical deductive reasoning, reliant on empiricism, and the simple drive to know and apply the facts on the ground.

Cook grew up in Northern California in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, panning for gold in the south fork of the Yuba River where her family leased a stretch of water for a placer mine. Her father also owned a half interest in an operation at the county airport with Forest Service contracts for fire suppression. For Cook, flying was simply a part of life, hopping into her father’s plane anytime the destination would require a car ride that might exceed three hours.

Eventually the family moved to a place called Likely, California, with a population of 105 residents, in the far northeastern corner of the state. The entire Modoc County was sparsely populated, with winters more like Montana than California. Few entertainment opportunities existed, which meant if Cook wanted to do something interesting on a frigid winter night, her options were limited to television and books. Since watching one of the three television stations available on a Saturday night meant selecting between the two which were both playing the variety show Hee Haw, and the third which was always the Lawrence Welk Show, Cook chose to read.

Happily, the bookshelves were filled with classics, and Cook became acquainted with the works of Russian authors, Leo Tolstoy, and Fyodor Dostoevsky. Although wading through Tolstoy’s War and Peace at 15 years of age was a challenging endeavor not since repeated, Cook enjoyed Dostoyevsky’s novels. Her interests lead her to voraciously consume the works of her favorite authors Ayn Rand, Taylor Caldwell, Leon Uris, and James Michener.

After graduating high school, Cook followed her older sister to Oral Roberts University (ORU) in Tulsa, Oklahoma. There she had an opportunity to experience charlatans galore, as well as a few genuine believers. Corrie Ten Boom, the Dutch Christian resistance fighter who helped her father rescue Jewish people from the Nazi Holocaust machine, was an inspiration to Cook, and a highlight of her time at ORU, while she found Kathryn Kuhlman’s brand of faith healing to be wholly distasteful.

She departed college after a mere year-and-a-half, with a high GPA, which was surprising since Cook says. “I majored in upping my drinking game while attending a private Baptist university that forbade alcohol.” It was the beginning of a lifelong career of rebelling against organized religion, televangelists, prosperity gospel grifters, and any other fake snakes that would, “with feigned words make merchandise of you.”

And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you

II Peter 2:3a (KJV)

After leaving college, Cook settled in Santa Rosa, California, married, and started a family. She became passionately involved with the pro-life movement, eventually becoming the president of a state-wide advocacy group, California Pro-Life Council, which was affiliated with the National Right to Life organization. In her role as the Western Regional Director of the group American Victims of Abortion, Cook traveled extensively, speaking, educating, and lobbying on the issue in state capitols, and Washington, DC.

Cook relocated to Kootenai County, Idaho, from Santa Rosa, California, in 1992, and by 1996, she was the field representative for Congressman Helen Chenoweth, with oversight over the five northern counties of Idaho. For better or worse, this position enabled her to gain a solid grasp of issues in North Idaho, and the players who made things happen, whether in the spotlight or behind the scenes.

Linda J. Cook

Cook retired in 2021 from her position in donor development for the Union Gospel Mission Center for Women and Children in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. While there, she witnessed the life-changing impact of faithful Christianity on broken lives. The work was rewarding, but having the gift of time after retirement allowed for her to delve deeply into personal study of the word of God, and its reward has no measure.

Cook says she is happiest when assessing “an invigorating contest of verifiable facts versus ignorant fiction.” She firmly asserts that, “it is never more crucial to know the truth than when one is discussing God.”

While searching for a role in retirement that would provide an outlet, and have lasting positive results, Cook concluded that diving deeper into Christian theology was the only productive course for her to pursue, with the benefit of holding both immediate, and eternal, merit.

Cook joins the Kootenai Journal team as a regular contributor, authoring the “Truth Matters” column, which aims to provide thoughtful and introspective contemplation on living in this world while holding fast to the absolute truth of God’s Word. Our community deserves a resurrection of theological discourse in the public square, and Cook’s pithy writings are bound to perk the ears, pull back the veil of confusion, and spark the desire to seek truth.