MADISON—Mark E. Cook, age 61, passed away on Sept. 9, 2017, in his home, surrounded by his family. Born April 12, 1956, in Houma, La., Mark grew up in Houma, where he married his high school sweetheart, Ellen Burleigh Cook.
As a teen, Mark spent summers working on his uncle’s large farm, where he grew to understand many of the concerns faced by commercial livestock producers. His experience there was prophetic. Mark attended Louisiana State University, where he earned a B.S. in microbiology in 1978, an M.S. in poultry nutrition in 1980, and a Ph.D. in poultry nutrition/immunology in 1982. He completed his post-doctoral work in 1983 in the Poultry Science Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he was a professor and world-renowned researcher for 34 years up until his death.
Mark was a prolific researcher, focusing on animal nutrition and disease. Among his countless discoveries was the finding that chickens can produce a protein in eggs that can be sprayed on animal feed to replace antibiotics. This discovery led to the development of the company, Ab E Discovery. Mark’s research yielded 50 patents, in the United States and abroad. These patents along with his exceptional entrepreneurial talent led to a hallmark of his work. He commercialized his discoveries, spinning off a number of highly productive and successful business enterprises, including Isomark which advanced a technology focused on measuring isotopes in the breath as a form of hands-off early detection of infection.
Mark was highly regarded in his field for his outstanding contributions to education and science at regional, state, national, and international levels. Over dozens of years, he mentored and trained generations of scientists who are now taking his knowledge and expertise to make innovative, valuable, and practical contributions in science and the marketplace. He was a leader in UW-Madison’s D2P—Discovery to Product initiative. D2P’s Igniter program is designed to bring to commerce ideas and technology originating within UW-Madison. The program helps project teams develop the strategies and materials they need to move their product or service from the lab or dorm room out to the market.
Mark was an athlete his entire life. As captain of his high school football team he had to make a decision at graduation whether to parlay his football talent into an athletic scholarship or focus solely on his education. He never regretted making this pivotal choice. He was a rock climber, bicyclist, hiker, runner (until he ran his one and only marathon, and decided to stick with hiking). In 2008, Mark and his hiking buddy, Wayne Prior, were awarded Thousand-Miler status by Wisconsin’s Ice Age Trail Alliance. The Ice Age Trail follows the leading edge at which a glacier 12,000 years ago descended into, and retreated from what is now Wisconsin. Mark and Wayne hiked the entire thousand-mile trail and then started all over again.
Mark’s greatest joy by far was his family. His children, Lynn, LeighAnn and Crague, grew up with the finest daddy imaginable. Playful and sometimes silly, nurturing and yet firm, fully engaged and always loving, Mark and Ellen never missed an occasion to support their children’s interests and afford a myriad of opportunities, both locally and abroad, to expand and deepen their learning experiences. They grew up knowing he would support their explorations and passions wherever they led. Mark and Ellen shared many interests, including his passion for immunology research. Together they published articles and obtained a patent focused on inhibition of allergic inflammation by the nutritional supplement, CLA.
Mark will be forever loved by his wife of 36 years, Ellen, and his children, Lynn Gahagan, LeighAnn (John) Carmody and Crague (Elysse); by his parents, Audrey and Ann Cook; by his brothers, Byron and Kent; and his grandchildren, Isla and Colin. Mark will also be remembered with love by his numerous nieces, nephews and extended family and dear friends.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, at BLACKHAWK CHURCH, 9620 Brader Way, Madison. A visitation will be held Sunday afternoon, Sept. 17, 2017, from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. at CRESS FUNERAL HOME, 3610 Speedway Road, Madison.
The family asks that memorial gifts be directed to one of the following: University of Wisconsin Foundation, US Bank Lockbox, Box 78807, Milwaukee, WI 53278-0807, https://www.supportuw.org; The Ice Age Trail Alliance, P.O. Box 128, 2110 Main St., Cross Plains, WI 53528, http://www.iceagetrail.org; or Porchlight Inc., 306 N. Brooks St., Madison, WI 53715, http://porchlightinc.org.
Please share your memories at www.CressFuneralService.com.
Cress Funeral and Cremation Service
3610 Speedway Road, Madison