COOKERLY Thomas Bourne Cookerly (1927-2022) Tom died peacefully on January 16, 2022 at his home in Bethesda. Born August 4, 1927 to the late Thomas Bourne Cookerly, Jr. and Ruth Thompson Cookerly, he was raised in Birmingham, Michigan. Tom joined the army right out of high school and was stationed at Camp Grant when he saw a notice asking for volunteers to bring German POWs back to Germany. Tom said he went to company headquarters that evening where some of the career sergeants were gathered and said, “I would like to volunteer. They showed him a sheet of paper to sign. An older master sergeant walked up, looked at the sheet, turned to the others and said “Well boys, it’s going to be all right now —Thomas B. Cookerly THE THIRD just happened volunteer!” Tom said he was so embarrassed and decided then that the “3rd” in his name should leave! After graduating from Duke University in 1950, Tom first joined Procter and Gamble. In 1952, he began his broadcasting career when he moved to WBT radio in Charlotte, North Carolina, and was soon hired for television sales with WBTV. In 1971, when he left Charlotte for Washington, DC, he was general manager of WBTV and Jefferson Productions. In Washington, DC, Tom was President and CEO of ABC affiliate WJLA-TV. In 1978, he became president of the broadcast division of Allbritton Communications and was responsible for managing several television and radio stations. He was active in the Washington community where he thrived, serving on the boards of the Prevention of Blindness Society, Washington Home, Federal City Council, and United Way. He also served on the Fifth District Federal Reserve Board and the Board of the United States Chamber of Commerce. In 1972, he proudly founded The Neediest Kids (TNK) – a charity whose aim is to help students who, through no fault of their own, were not reaching their full potential due to lack of financial and basic necessities. Originally launched within the DC school system, TNK (now part of the National Center for Children and Families) currently works with ten regional school districts, representing more than 800,000 students in 1,140 schools in the DMV area. The Tom Cookerly Exceptional School Superintendent Leadership Award is given annually to a school leader who works best to remove barriers to success for students affected by poverty. In 2016, Tom received the Humanitarian Spirit Award for Advocacy from the National Center for Children and Families. Within the broadcast industry, Tom was a founder and second president of the Washington Area Broadcasters Association, president of the Television Bureau of Advertising, treasurer of Maximum Service TV, and president of the ABC Television Affiliates Association. . In 1984, the Washington Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences presented him with its Board of Governors Award for outstanding achievement in broadcasting and for his commitment to the Washington community. In 2002, he received the Broadcaster Pioneer Award from the Broadcasters Foundation. Tom loved golf and was a member of three clubs: Burning Tree Club, Congressional Country Club and Linville Golf Club. He also loved fishing for rainbow trout at his home on Grandfather Mountain Lake in Linville, North Carolina, usually with a cigar and drink nearby. When a catch was made, he always threw it back. In recent years, he has served as an elder at the Presbyterian Church of Potomac, a member of the boards of the Grandfather Mountain Lake Club, Washington area Presbyterian houses, the Library of American Broadcasting, TNK, and chairman of the Burning Tree. Club. In 2012 Tom moved to Fox Hill Senior Living and his family would like to sincerely thank the other owners and Fox Hill team members for their friendship and support. Tom loved his condo and all aspects of life in Fox Hill. Tom was predeceased by his wife of 59 years, Mary Ann Morris Cookerly and is survived by his four children: Clay Cookerly (Irene Giampapa), Carol Cookerly (Robert Beal), Jan Cookerly (Stewart Kerr) and Ann and Robb Hill. His grandchildren Maryann and Jane Hill as well as Colton and Grant Cookerly were extremely special to him. Per Tom’s wishes, a family-only memorial service will be held. However, he was so incredibly grateful for all of his meaningful friendships that we ask friends to celebrate him by raising a glass and toasting his life which was very well lived. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Tom’s memory to Potomac Presbyterian Church, PO Box 59869, Potomac, MD 20854. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Tom’s memory to the Potomac Presbyterian Church, PO Box 59869, Potomac, MD 20854.
Published by the Washington Post on January 18, 2022.