Words of Remembrance for Brother Kenneth Cook, FSC

Written by Brother Andrew Bartley, FSC
Read by Brother James Butler, FSC
Mass of Christian Burial
La Salle College High School (Marian Chapel)
May 25, 2017

The name KEN COOK has a strong ring to it, proclaiming that the man who bore it for a lifetime possessed undeniable strength of voice, intellect, and character; moreover, it also helps identify a gentle, soft-spoken, somewhat private man who fairly defined the vocation of Christian Brotherhood.

Today, in celebrating what he did with the gift of life, we immediately recognize that Brother Kenneth Cook was always intensely proud of his roots, often crediting his parents, teachers (especially nuns), and siblings for their good example and supportive love.

From that background it seemed a logical choice for him eventually to choose a career and community which enabled him to serve poor families by educating those who would comprise their next generation. It was a commitment he vitalized with pride and distinction for many years as a follower of St. John Baptist de La Salle.

We also have reason to celebrate in the fact that throughout those years of service, Ken remained a faithful son of the Church. Aware of its problems and triumphs, he made it his business to become well-informed about such matters as the scriptures, papal pronouncements, and Church History. Through extensive reading, he became almost encyclopedic in his knowledge of religious orders, parish histories, and clerical appointments. If anyone wanted to know more about Mother Theresa or Mother Angelica, or where Father Bernard was moved to, Brother Ken would prove a veritable fountain of information. Some of his friends would jokingly say that he used the five pound Catholic Directory for light reading or even memorizing. It’s probably an exaggeration to say that if the computer systems of any diocese crashed, Ken could recreate their content from memory. (But it has been said.)

At a time when many of his confreres, put off by the challenge of trying to inspire disinterested youth, were drifting away from the teaching of religion, Brother Ken, an excellent history teacher, proved himself a true Apostle of the Catechism by becoming an expert religion teacher. It was a successful transition, because Ken, able to relate to his students effectively, carved out a career as specialist, department chair, and Parish Coordinator of Religious Education.

Throughout that career, Brother Ken revealed his special gift of being able to relate to students so effectively that he established lifelong friendships with many of them. Generations of grateful graduates from every school he served, have sensed that in this special man they had encountered someone who genuinely cared about them, who was there for them, willing to share their good—and not so good—times.

He attended hundreds of graduation parties and weddings and even composed a prayer in case he was asked to give a blessing at Eagle Scout induction ceremonies. But he also visited countless hospitals and attended what he thought were too many funerals for former students and members of their families. With Brother Ken’s demise, one of the Brothers observed that Hallmark Cards’ stocks might drop drastically. He knew that Ken always kept in touch. And although Brother Ken did not drive, he somehow managed to be there for important events in the lives of important others.

For the education of those important others, Brother Ken could be counted upon to take on difficult school or community assignments which met with success because of his best efforts. For example, Ken, who was definitely a non-athlete, often told the story of a meeting with Brother Ted Piperno, then Principal—and wrestling coach—(a great combination) at Archbishop Carroll High School. According to Ken, it was a brief meeting that went something like this. Brother Ted asked, “Ken, what do you know about wrestling?” “Absolutely nothing,” was Ken’s honest reply. “Good,” Ted responded, “you will do just fine as our moderator and assistant coach starting tomorrow.” Meeting closed. Miracles happen. Ken and the Carroll Wrestling Team steadily improved. And Ken became a sports fan, especially if those teams involved any of his students.

In recent years, Brother Ken moved from the classroom to the school library where, as an assistant, he became an efficient multi-tasker, including utilizing his considerable skills in calling forgetful students to more gentlemanly behavior. As always, he seemed to enjoy interaction with students—especially in a setting not requiring him to give grades. During these interactions, many students were awestruck by Brother Ken’s ability to recall the names of family members who had preceded them at La Salle. Respect for Ken grew because of many gifts, but chiefly because he was both a world-class listener and a professional encourager—skills youth needs and appreciates. In recent years our Brother also extended his list of doctors who strove to help him meet the increasing health problems he experienced with aging. He became a good—not great—patient, who accepted considerable pain and diminishing mobility as part of life. When the Lord called, Ken was ready. He left us as a man completely satisfied with his vocational choice to serve others as a Christian Brother. He enjoyed every school he served, mainly because, at all of them, he found families and students he respected and admired and strove to show them a part of God’s goodness and love.

May Jesus live in his heart. Forever.

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Brother Kenneth Cook, FSC

Born Earl Kenneth Cook in Fulton, NY, on April 11, 1938

Entered the Ammendale, MD, Novitiate on October 15, 1957

Received the Religious Habit and Name, Brother Joseph Canisius, on February 1, 1958

Pronounced Perpetual Vows in Elkins Park, PA, on August 29, 1964

Died at Riverview Medical Center, Red Bank, NJ, on May 22, 2017



Wednesday, May 24, 2017

De La Salle Hall
810 Newman Springs Road
Lincroft, NJ 07738-1608

Viewing from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Thursday, May 25, 2017

La Salle College High School
8605 Cheltenham Avenue
Wyndmoor, PA 19038-7199

Viewing from 4:00 pm – 6:45 pm
Mass of Christian Burial at 7:00 pm

Friday, May 26, 2017

Beltsville, (Ammendale), MD

Burial in Brothers’ Cemetery at 11:00 am
Lunch to follow


District: 50 masses
De La Salle Hall community: 30 masses
Each community in the District: 1 mass

Brother Kenneth died peacefully during the late afternoon.
May he rest in peace.


Elkins Park, PA

Philadelphia, PA
West Catholic Boys’ High School

Wyndmoor, PA
La Salle College High School

Radnor, PA
Archbishop Carroll Boys’ High School

Shiremanstown, PA
Trinity High School

Radnor, PA
Archbishop Carroll Boys’ High School

Philadelphia, PA
West Catholic Boys’ High School

Wyndmoor, PA
La Salle College High School
teacher, library assistant

Lincroft, NJ
De La Salle Hall