Prolific painter

99-year-old wows with art show at senior residence


The Blade


John Cook takes a sip of his white wine as he describes the portrait hanging on the wall. Cook remembers the scene like it was yesterday: three fishermen on a boat in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Each painting tells a story, representing a moment in time.

Cook’s paintings are displayed at Kingston Residence of Sylvania where he’s lived since last year. It’s an art show exhibiting some of the work Cook has done over the decades.

Residents and visitors marveled as they walked past his paintings in the hallway.

“These are beautiful,” passers-by said. The adulation echoed throughout the evening.

At age 99, Cook has painted more times than he can count. He guesses somewhere around 1,000.

He was the youngest of three children, born in Wisconsin but raised mostly in Toledo.

After graduating from DeVilbiss High School, he attended the University of Toledo and Miami University. He played the clarinet and drums in a dance orchestra in the late 1930s.

After serving in the U.S. Navy, where he was stationed in Washington D.C., Cook eventually landed a job with a glass company. He retired in 1981 as chief development engineer.

Cook had a penchant for painting at an early age. But he couldn’t quite remember when he started painting.

His mother was a painter, and he can remember being a kid, picking up a pencil and sketching.

“It seemed like a natural thing to do,” he said.

But Cook never wanted to paint as a career.

“I wouldn’t like to be motivated by the money,” he said. “I was motivated by beauty, place and scene.”

Cook painted more frequently after he retired. He also taught at the Toledo Museum of Art.

He stopped painting completely three years ago. But his work is appreciated years later as it’s showcased at the Kingston Residence.

“I already have some of his paintings,” said Neil Helman, a resident of Kingston Residence. “My son and daughter have some, too.”

“My God, they’re beautiful,” one woman said with her mouth agape.

With his work adorning the walls, Cook was met with a barrage of compliments.

He’s an affable man, with a sense of humor.

During his art show, Cook began telling a story about how he once sold wooden boxes that carried all the utensils needed for painters.

He was interrupted by a question.

“Do you want some more wine?” his friend and Kingston resident Joan Brooks asked.

“Sure,” he said. “How many bottles you got?”

More like this from

Subscribe Today

Sign up for our email newsletter to receive daily news.

Want more? Click here to subscribe to either the Print or Digital Editions.