Since his earliest days at Logan (Utah) High School when he took snaps as the starting quarterback, Elder Quentin L. Cook has been a team player. For him, the collaborative effort of the team trumps the brilliance of the individual.
It's a philosophy that has suited him well. Having served in the highest circles in the corporate world, Elder Cook has distinguished himself as one whose judgment garners confidence and whose leadership unifies groups.
He was sustained Oct. 6 to fill the vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve created when Elder Henry B. Eyring was called into the First Presidency.
Those who worked with him in the business world — most of whom were of different faiths — give him high marks.
"He is the rare combination of intelligence, judgment and integrity," said Jay M. Gellert, a former colleague in the health care industry and now president and chief executive officer of Health Net Inc., in California.
Most leaders have one or two of those qualities, he said, but Quentin Cook had them all and didn't lose them under pressure.
Mr. Gellert told how Elder Cook excelled at bringing harmony to a group of strong-willed business leaders to create a successful hospital system.
"Sutter Health System stands as a testimony to his efforts," Mr. Gellert said. "He has a joy for life and cares for people."
Years earlier, after graduating from Stanford Law School in 1966, Elder Cook was interviewed by Albert J. Horn for a position with a prestigious law firm.
"He stood out," said Mr. Horn, who is not a member of the Church. "I spoke to his former mission president who gave him a strong recommendation. It's proved to be true over the years."
The interview process was a covert test of Elder Cook's integrity.
"I was invited to lunch by the senior partner for a pre-lunch alcoholic drink, and later, some wine," Elder Cook said.
"I declined. I informed him that I was a member of the Church and did not drink alcoholic beverages."
He received the job offer. He was later told by the senior partner that the alcohol was a test. "He considered it a significant matter of character and would not have hired me had I chosen alcohol," Elder Cook said.
Elder Cook was born Sept. 8, 1940, in Logan, Utah, the second son of a mother who loved the gospel and balanced her enthusiasm for sports with a gracious personality, and a father who sought excellence in life by setting goals and a rigorous study of the issues of the day.
Among his sandlot baseball friends was Lee Burke, Elder Cook's childhood chum who would run against him for student body offices in junior high and senior high school. For six years they played political leap frog, some years Quentin Cook was elected president. Other years, Lee Burke won. For a time, they dated the same girl.
Through it all, they remained close friends, even to the point of serving as companions in the British Mission where they were assistants to President Marion D. Hanks.
"He was the ideal kind of friend," said Brother Burke. "I never knew him to do anything contrary to the gospel. He liked everyone, and everyone liked him."
After his mission, Elder Cook returned to Cache Valley where he married Mary Gaddie, Nov. 30, 1962, in the Logan Utah Temple, then completed his undergraduate degree in political science at Utah State University.
They moved to California for law school and grew to love the Bay Area, feeling to make their home and raise their three children there. In time, he was called as president of the San Francisco Stake. He loved the people and treasured how the diversity of cultures and nationalities of the members enlivened and enriched the personality of the stake.
It was during the years as stake president that he learned much of the South Pacific culture, said Elder Ronald T. Halverson, now released from the Second Quorum of the Seventy and former counselor, then president, in the Pacific Islands Area presidency.
"He led in ways that these many years later continue to bless the islands," Elder Halverson said.
Elder Cook was called to the Second Quorum of the Seventy in April 1996, and then to the First Quorum in April 1998.
In addition to presiding over the Philippines and Pacific Islands areas, he served as president of the North America Northwest Area. His leadership abilities were ideally suited for his next assignment as the executive director of the Missionary Department.
He played a pivotal role in assisting Elder M. Russell Ballard and others of the Quorum of the Twelve as they responded to President Gordon B. Hinckley's charge to refresh the missionary curriculum. Under the Lord's guidance, they created the missionary approach, "Preach My Gospel."
One time, troubled to the point of not sleeping because of the seeming imperfections of one chapter, Elder Cook said the spiritual breakthrough came when President Boyd K. Packer said that "we'd done everything we could and the Lord would accept our best effort. It was time to move ahead."
In Elder Cook, the Lord has a team player who is well tested in faith and personal righteousness.
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