Leland L. Cook, a long-time resident of Newton, died on March 27, 2018, two weeks prior to his 101st birthday at Newton’s Park Centre where he and his wife, Janet, had resided since 1994. He was a veteran of World War II, having served in the Pacific Theater.
A graduate of Simpson College and Drake University, Leland was a music educator in the Newton Schools. High School Bands under his direction received many awards and accolades and undertook several concert and marching tours, appearing in Washington, D.C.’s Apple Blossom Festival Parade, playing for the World Convention of Kiwanis International, in Toronto, Canada, and performing a concert for the Worlds Fair, in Flushing Meadows, New York. After retirement, he continued teaching as a substitute for the district and taught band and private music lessons at Newton Christian School.
Leland was also a church choir director at First Lutheran Church and later at First United Methodist Church, a conductor of the Newton Municipal Band, as well as a part-time instrument repair technician at Dooley’s Music Store (now Mattingly’s), and lead player of the Jack Cozad Dance Band. He was President and Secretary of the Newton Kiwanis Club, President of the citywide P.T.A., and President of the Newton Teachers Association. In retirement he became President of the Park Centre Residents Association where he organized an orchestra of Park Centre resident musicians, called “The Medicare Seven.”
At the state level, he was elected twice by his peers to serve as President of the Iowa Bandmasters Association and later became President of the Iowa Music Educators Association. He also judged many high school music contests on behalf of the Iowa High School Music Association.
Leland was preceded in death by his wife of 67 years, Janet Roberts Cook, his parents, Zell and Vallie Cook, two siblings and a beloved son-in-law, E. James Bennett. Survivors include a daughter, Virginia Cook Bennett, of Newton; a son Tom (Janie) Cook, of Missoula, MT; four grandchildren: Susan (Shane Swanson) Bennett, Edward (Margot Wickman) Bennett, Catherine (Sean) Dennehy, and Charles Cook. Five great grand children also survive, including Nathan and Meredith Bennett-Swanson, Morgan and Erin Bennett, and Lena Dennehy. He is also survived by a sister-in-law, Eleanor Cook of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Funeral services will be held on Thursday, April 5th at 10:30 AM at First United Methodist Church, in Newton. A luncheon for family and friends will be served following the service. The Wallace Family Funeral Home and Crematory is handling the arrangements. Memorials to First Methodist Church, Newton Dollars for Scholars or a recipient of the donor’s choice will be gratefully accepted.