Preston Cook

Profile Updated: January 10, 2019
Residing In Wabasha,, MN USA
Spouse/Partner Donna Cook, 32 years
Homepage View Website
Occupation Retired
Children Five Step Children, Ten Step Grandchildren, Five Step Great Grandchildren
Military Service Drafted, US Army, 1966-1968  

On reflection, three movies profoundly shaped, and directed, my life. “Around the World in 80 Days”, “A Thousand Clowns” and “Lawrence of Arabia” each changed the trajectory of my life. Let me briefly explain.

The 1956 movie, “Around the World in 80 Days”, inspired thoughts of travel and adventure through high school. By spring of 1965, after saving $3000 working at the post office, I embarked on an around the world solo adventure, returning not in 80 days, but in 400, traversing through 40 countries on three continents. Hitchhiking through Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East to Kabul, Afghanistan, for the most part ending my ground travels due to political unrest and two draft notices. Flying the balance of the travels to India, Nepal, Thailand, Malyasia and Japan, to name a few. The adventure opened my mind to diversity in people, places, culture, food, as well as being a great educational experience. My enthusiasm for adventure continues, traveling to all seven continents, as much as possible by land, train and ship.

“A Thousand Clowns”, the 1965 movie from Herb Gardiner’s 1962 play, influenced me with a one liner; “You can’t have too many eagles!” Collecting American eagles, as Murray Burns in the movie did, became a passion, later a compulsion, during the next 40 years. The collection now consisting of over 20,000 such items, likely the largest such ever assembled. A book is forthcoming in 2015. A building has been purchased to house the collection for a museum.

When asked how I met my wife, I often say Lawrence of Arabia introduced me to my wife. The 1962 movie, with the same name, viewed on a Tuesday night in early 1985, double-featured with, “A Man Who Would Be King”, left me too tired for my regular early Wednesday morning workout. I went the following Thursday to meet a woman who would eventually be my wife, who ONLY worked out Tuesdays and Thursday. Donna has now been my one and only for over 28 years.

School Story

I was an absolute academic failure at ETHS, graduating 789 out of 862, with a 4.06 GPA, and I pursued no activities. The yearbook states no more than my name. But my underperformance during my time at ETHS is not a reflection on the quality of education and opportunities offered there; instead it reflects my engagement in activities other than scholarly. During high school I worked constantly, on my own and for a variety of employers, to gain the knowledge and skills I was drawn to, and to provide myself with material goods that were important to me at the time. Nonetheless, I have always had good feelings about ETHS. I’ve remained friends with many people from my class, have attended every reunion and even been a member of the reunion committee. This past year I helped raise funds to create a permanent annual award in the name of the class of 1964 and Jack Rakove, a Pulitzer Prize–winning graduate of our class.

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Preston Cook has a birthday today. New comment added.
Aug 01, 2021 at 4:32 PM

Posted on: Aug 01, 2021 at 3:33 AM

Feb 06, 2021 at 2:47 PM

From your last posting I was delighted to learn you still live in CA part time and you are still driving a Tesla. Thought we had lost you to the Midwest and as a Tesla convert. You were thinking of stopping the lease on your Model S. I wondered how anyone could go back to an ICE after driving a Tesla. Ginger May and her husband met your personal trainer, now without you, on their regular hiking path. He was sorry you had moved to the Midwest. They are leasing their first Tesla and love, love, love it. Are you in the same house in Novato? Same email and phone? When things open up, I'd like to arrange another North Bay get together.

Preston Cook posted a message. New comment added.
Aug 11, 2020 at 2:44 PM

Posted on: Aug 11, 2020 at 6:11 AM

I am moved to hear you remain on the right side of the grass. Happy Birthday.

Preston Cook has a birthday today.
Aug 01, 2020 at 3:33 AM
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Aug 11, 2019 at 3:24 PM

Posted on: Aug 11, 2019 at 7:13 AM

Happy Birthday John. Hope to see you next month.

Preston Cook has a birthday today.
Aug 01, 2019 at 3:33 AM
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Jun 07, 2019 at 5:23 PM
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Jan 10, 2019 at 11:57 AM
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Aug 11, 2018 at 7:38 AM
Preston Cook has a birthday today.
Aug 01, 2018 at 3:33 AM
Mar 04, 2018 at 7:50 PM

Preston, is there a catalog for your show? I would love to know more about it and how it came to be, and especially to see some of your pieces. They sound fascinating. Here in the Northwest I see bald eagles pretty regularly, but have a great fondness for golden eagles, having spent 38 years in the Rocky Mountain West. I applaud your avocation.

Preston Cook has a birthday today. New comment added.
Aug 01, 2017 at 3:34 PM

Posted on: Aug 01, 2017 at 3:33 AM

Preston Cook has a birthday today. New comment added.
Aug 01, 2016 at 2:07 PM

Posted on: Aug 01, 2016 at 3:33 AM

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Aug 28, 2015 at 10:48 AM

Posted on: Aug 09, 2015 at 7:33 AM

Hello Don, we just passed Lake City on the American Queen and now we are in St. Paul for a few days. We will be in Wabasha the month of September and likely October. Please send email and phone so we can get together. Preston

Preston Cook has a birthday today.
Aug 01, 2015 at 3:34 AM
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Dec 24, 2014 at 12:02 PM
Preston Cook has left an In Memory comment for John Fernstrom.
Dec 05, 2014 at 7:32 PM

Nov 02 at 11:33 PM


John and I became friends at Haven; we remained friends all his life. John and I hung around at Haven and in high school, though he was much cooler than I, especially when he bought a 1959 Corvette.  That was the coolest car at ETHS.  Even better than my Model A Ford.

My first memorable experience with John occurred while we bicycled through Lincolnwood School’s wooded pathways.  John stopped and asked if I wanted a smoke.  At 13 I had yet to try a cigarette, and agreed.  One led to about six.  Attempting to mount my bicycle for the ride home, I found my head spinning to such a degree I was unable to balance and fell over. With a dizzy headache, I struggled to push the bike about a mile home.  That was the first, and last, time I ever had a cigarette.  So I give great credit to John for making me so sick smoking that one time I lost any interest in every smoking again.

During high school it was cars and California.  I owned about half a dozen prior to graduation, along with a big motorcycle. John and I would get excited just seeing a car with California license plates.  The Beach Boys in full swing.   More…

John and I planned to drive his 1959 silver Corvette with floor mounted three-speed stick shift to California after we graduated.  I quite my job pumping gas at SPUR in South Evanston, and on August 1, we headed west, top down all the way.  For those three days we were Buzz and Todd, just like in the popular TV series running through our time at ETHS.

The first night we stopped in Julesburg, Colorado, a town at the northeastern corner of the state, allowing me to have my first legal beer, as that was my 18th birthday, the legal age in that state. We drove hard for two more days on the old two-lane Route 80 passing every vehicle in sight, and never passed by another.  We spent two mesmerizing weeks in Northern California with John’s older sister Karen.  The tastes, smells, sounds, weather and geography captivated me, returning seven years later as a new home, now 43 years ago.

John dropped me off in Huntington Beach, a Southern California coastal town, while he drove to Arizona to enter the University.  I did not see him for several years, though we kept in touch.

One day in 1988 I received a call from John asking if I would do him a favor.  He had heard Wendy Steffen (ETHS Class of ‘64) had moved to San Francisco and asked me if I would check her out and report back.  Though not knowing Wendy well, I agreed to call her.  We had lunch one day soon thereafter, finding her to be fit, trim, and as attractive as she was in our high school days.  John was happy to hear the news, called her, and later married for the remaining 26 years of his life.


I often reminded John of his rescue of me that 1964 summer from pumping gas, that if he had not taken me to California, I may still be at SPUR gas station. A good, reliable friend is gone, far to soon, one who literally changed the trajectory of my life.  He will be missed and remembered.

Sep 17, 2014 at 7:58 AM

Posted on: Sep 16, 2014 at 8:48 PM

Preston: If you are ever in SW FL. ( Naples area) you've got a room and maybe we can settle the dispute once and for all!!! I'm still digging for the proof, I know I have it even though per Kathy Dalgaty's figures I did not graduate!!!lol :) email:

Preston Cook added a comment on his Profile.
Aug 26, 2014 at 1:33 PM
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Posted: Aug 03, 2014 at 7:30 PM
Aug. 1, 2014, Birthday dinner
Posted: Jan 19, 2014 at 4:17 PM
Posted: Jan 19, 2014 at 4:00 PM
Seattle, January 2014