Remembering CCNS Co-founder Mary Lou Cook

mp3 – 101113



Runs 10/11/13 through 10/18/13

(THEME UP AND UNDER)  This is the CCNS News Update, an overview of the latest nuclear safety issues, brought to you every week by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety.  Here is this week’s top headline:

  • Remembering CCNS Co-founder Mary Lou Cook

Mary Lou Cook, one of the twelve co-founders of CCNS, died at age 95 this week in Santa Fe.  We are deeply saddened by the news, but have enjoyed reminiscing about the early days of CCNS.  In the summer of 1988, we met in Mary Lou’s small calligraphy studio located at the Design Center in Santa Fe.  At that time the Santa Fe Peace Center was also located in the Design Center, which was founded by Mary Lou and her peace colleague, Ann Dasburg, another CCNS co-founder.  They agreed that CCNS could use the back room in the Peace Center for our nascent activities.  Soon, and to their surprise, we were using all of the space because of the number of volunteers who were helping in the early efforts to stop the opening of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

Mary Lou was sometimes called our “secret weapon” in that she knew many of the elected officials who would have influence over decisions concerning WIPP and the nuclear laboratories.  Over the years, she and Ann Dasburg wrote many poignant letters to the editor that helped to educate the public about our concerns.

Richard Johnson, one of the CCNS co-founders and the creator of Businesses Against WIPP, said, “Mary Lou worked tirelessly for CCNS in those early years. Her energy, fearless optimism and wisdom informed everything we did. We all loved Mary Lou Cook.”

Mary Lou established the Santa Fe Living Treasurers program in 1984.  At an annual ceremony, community elders are honored for their lives and work.  She was devoted to creating an Office of Peace within the New Mexico state government and spent many legislative sessions trying to accomplish that task.

Mary Lou was also a wonderful independent minister and bishop in the Eternal Life Church who married many in the community.  She was an extremely talented calligrapher and artist.  A sign hanging on her studio wall read, “All great art is praise.”

Sasha Pyle, one of the CCNS co-founders and who testified before Congress in 1988 about community concerns regarding the opening of WIPP, said, “Mary Lou had the knack of being firm in her convictions, even blunt, without ever losing her positive approach, which was so disarming–no matter whom she was confronting. It was a huge privilege to practice the art of activism side by side with her. She saw the world we live in as a place that needs a lot of work but is divinely full of creative possibilities.”

Mary Lou was blessed in her later years by the fine caring of her loving daughter, Courtney, who predeceased her.  Services are pending.


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