John Pershing Cook, 72, of Pine Haven died Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, surrounded by family.

A celebration of life is from 2-4 p.m. Dec. 4 at the Pine Haven Community Center, 3 Meadows Lane in Pine Haven.

John was born Sept. 19, 1949, in Mount Pleasant, Utah, to PJ and Darlyne (Story) Cook. He lived in Mount Pleasant until he was 3 years old when the family moved to a sheep ranch north of Belle Fourche, South Dakota, where he spent his youth and teenage years helping his dad on the family ranch.

He graduated from Belle Fourche High School in 1967 and then went to Utah State University at Logan, Utah. He then attended South Dakota State University at Brookings, South Dakota, and graduated from Black Hills State University in 1971 with a Bachelor of Science in Education degree. He received his master’s degree in education in 1991 from South Dakota State University and then went on to receive his PhD in education.

After graduating from the gunsmithing program at Trinidad State Junior College, he opened Pioneer Sporting Goods in Belle Fourche. He was known as the local handgun aficionado. In 1987, he was honored as one of the top 100 pistolsmiths in America by the American Handgunner Magazine. In October 1989, a fire tragically burnt down Pioneer Sporting Goods, which led to him starting his career as an educator.

He married Karen Marie Brickman on July 5, 1969.

Mr. Cook began teaching English at Twin Spruce Junior High School in Gillette until he accepted a principal position at Moorcroft Junior/Senior High School. In 2003, he was nominated and received the Wyoming Secondary Principal of the Year award. He retired in 2012.

In 2014, he became involved in the Pine Haven Town Council, which led to him being appointed mayor of Pine Haven and was elected mayor in 2020.

Mr. Cook was a man of varied interests. A constant interest and hobby throughout his whole life was his love of guns, which included shooting and gunsmithing. He strongly believed in the Second Amendment in that all Americans have the right to bear arms but also have the responsibility to know how to safely use their weapon. Due to this, he organized a training shoot held in Hulett for 30-plus years, which was attended by people from all over the U.S. and Canada. He was a patriot who loved the Constitution and the United States.

He was an avid reader and loved to travel. He had a great love of family and enjoyed spending time with them. He also loved spending time outdoors hunting, camping and four-wheeling.

He is survived by his wife, Karen, of 52 years; children, Cristen Coombs of Lander, Wyoming, Tell Douglas Cook of Pine Haven, Anna Cook of Sundance, Wyoming, Jane Mitchell of Lovell, Wyoming, and Ashley Wood of Sundance; 11 grandchildren; siblings, Charles Cook of Spearfish, Colleen Goodman of Coalville, Utah, and Betty Jean Baadsgaard of Spanish Fork, Utah; and numerous nieces, nephews, and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers, Carl and Douglas Cook; and one nephew.

Condolences may be attached to the obituary at

(1) comment


Mr. Cook was my neighbor and Scout Master for many years. Helped me get my Eagle Scout award. He was a great man and will be missed by many.

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