William "Bill" Bidwell Cook

August 28, 2020


William (Bill) Bidwell Cook passed away peacefully the afternoon of August 28, 2020, in a retirement home in Santa Rosa, CA. He was born in Seattle, WA in 1926 and grew up in Bellevue, WA. Bill attended kindergarten and high school with his future wife of 60 years (Elizabeth V. McCray) in Medina, WA. They would begin to date when both were attending the University of Washington in Seattle and were married in 1949. Betty passed away in 2009 in Covelo, CA. Bill graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Forestry from University of Washington. His college education was interrupted twice by WWII and the Korean War, which he served in the Army as a Private and finally as Second Lieutenant.

He leaves behind his four children; Joy Bidwell, Gail Cook, Dawn Lewellyn and Grant Stuart Cook, each born in different states due to his transit work with the US Geological Survey making Topographic Maps from 1953 to 1977. In 1966, Bill moved his family to Covelo, CA towing their house trailer, and made it their permanent location after 23 moves in 11 years.

Bill earned his Private Pilot’s License in 1964 while living and working a project in Utah. A year later he bought a Cessna and would commute home to Covelo on weekends as he continued making maps on the West Coast until 1977. In 1979 he used his piloting skills to start Cook’s Air Taxi Service. He flew Mendocino County residents and US Forestry Department firefighting personnel out of Covelo to many destinations in California, Oregon and Nevada. He logged over 11,000 hours by the time he retired in 2001.

In his retirement years he was often seen riding his bicycle around Covelo, opening Covelo's annual Mother’s Day/FFA Field Day parade by flying his Ultralight, and faithfully attending Covelo Presbyterian Church. Bill enjoyed socializing over coffee with Covelo residents and talking about his time in the Army, his work, and flying adventures around the country.

Bill will be buried next to his beloved wife, Betty, at the Covelo Valley View Cemetery in the near future. Inquiries can be made to Windsor Healdsburg Mortuary at 707.838.6000 or by visiting

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