March 30, 2004
MERIDEN - Shirley Fox Cook, wife of William A. Cook, married for 37 years, was taken home by God on Tuesday, March 30, 2004. Shirley was one of Meriden's own, having been born and raised in the City as a member of a prominent, accomplished family. She was a daughter of the late Andrew and Elizabeth Graham Fox. Shirley was a graduate of Dean Academy, Franklin, MA and a graduate of Meriden-Wallingford Hospital School of Nursing and was also a licensed RN in the State of California. She was a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps for 4 1/2 years, including 2 1/2 years as a combat nurse in the European Campaign during World War II. After the war Shirley was employed as head nurse in the Meriden-Wallingford recovery room and later as a nurse epidemiologist, retiring in 1985 after 45 years of nursing. Shirley was a member of the Meriden-Wallingford Hospital Alumnae Association, a member of the Association for Practitioners in Infection Control and a member of Post 0184 American Legion in Durham. Shirley had two brothers, Dr. George Fox, M.D., an excellent physician and founder of the Meriden Orthopedic Group; Christian Fox, a well-known local musician and violin teacher and a sister, Dorothy Hartenstein, all of whom predeceased her. She is survived by her husband, William A. Cook; many nieces and nephews and grandnieces and nephews. Her family owned and operated the Fox Delicatessen and the Fox Music Store in Meriden for many years. Her father and grandfather were elected to the Connecticut House of Representatives and served for several years. Shirley became a student nurse at Meriden- Wallingford School of Nursing and after becoming a registered nurse she joined the U.S. Army Nurse Corps in 1942. She was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and later promoted to a First Lieutenant. After the war she returned to work at Meriden-Wallingford Hospital. Shirley Fox Cook's military career was one of great accomplishment, extending over a period of 4 l/2 years, 2 1/2 of those years in the fierce combat zones of the European Theatrer of Operation, in which she assisted surgeons and treated American and Allied soldiers, as well as Prisoners of War, most notably those released in the liberation of the notorious Buchenwald Prison Camp where she served. She was awarded five bronze combat stars (Normandy, Northern France, Germany, Ardennes, Rhineland, Central Europe.) Her decorations and citations included: European African Middle Eastern Theater Campaign Ribbon, American Theater Campaign Ribbon and the Distinguished Unit Citation. Shirley, even in retirement, continued to volunteer in the outpatient department of the Veterans Memorial Hospital and in her church (First Baptist on Broad St.) until 1990. Shirley even created an incredible blanket with over 200 distinctive and, in some cases, rare sewed-in shoulder patches, collected from her War years and presented for display at the Meriden Public Library in 1995, marking the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the end of World War II. Shirley Fox Cook was the author of ''From Meriden to Buchenwald'', a book depicting her experiences in combat zones during World War II. Shirley also appeared on CPTV (Connecticut World War II Veterans), and had given talks at the Lions Club, Kiwanis, Antique Veterans, Miller Memorial Community, Meriden Public Library and many other civic organizations. Shirley and her husband did extensive traveling to London, California, Mexico and many places along the eastern seaboard. Shirley followed in the example of her family's belief in altruism, achievement and service by fulfilling her natural inclination toward the field of medicine.The world is a lesser place today without Shirley. The funeral will be held Thursday at 10 a.m. at the First Baptist Church, 460 Broad St., Meriden. The Rev. Dr. Robert Prescott-Ezickson will officiate. Burial with full military honors by the Antique Veterans will be in Walnut Grove Cemetery. Relatives and friends may call Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Beecher and Bennett Flatow Funeral Home, 48 Cook Ave., Meriden.