Scholarship to honor former Farmington High School teacher

Family hopes longtime English instructor Ruth Cook’s legacy will live on


Ruth Cook
Ruth Cook

Her students remember her as a strict disciplinarian and a passionate Shakespearean. Some of Ruth Cook’s former students, and her son, are celebrating her legacy as a Farmington English teacher of 25 years who died on May 29, 2016, with a new scholarship.
Born in 1922 as the youngest of eight children on a farm in New Richland, Minnesota, Cook went on to study English literature and education at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, graduating in 1944.

Her son, Tom Cook, says that “English was the family business” and Ruth carried it on with fervor, arriving in the Farmington district in 1961.

She proudly represented Farmington and Minnesota. She coached speech and debate, followed the Minnesota Vikings and Gophers, and loved all things Farmington Tigers, especially hockey and football. Perhaps it was this fondness for discipline on the field that kept her classroom in line.

Former student Teri Cordes recalled: “Mrs. Cook expected respect. She was there to teach, and you were there to learn. There was no fooling around, if you were talking or not paying attention, all she had to do was give you the ‘look’ and you knew she was not happy with your behavior. You sat up straight and paid attention. There was absolutely no gum chewing in her classroom, if you got caught she made you walk to the front and spit it out. Mrs. Cook was in charge.”

She stayed physically active throughout her days, from playing softball in her younger years to golf in Arizona with her husband, Earl, a longtime Farmington veterinarian, in their retirement.

Cook embraced her Swedish heritage with travels to Sweden, as well as Europe and all over the U.S.

She lived passionately and joyfully, as is evidenced in her teaching.

“Ruth was my English teacher in eighth grade,” said Ann Novitzki Maney. “She taught the classics and grammar. She was a wonderful teacher. She was energetic, passionate, intelligent, fair, and likable. She made the content interesting and memorable. I still know my adjectives and adverbs and am appalled when others make those mistakes. We have remained life long friends, as have many of her former students.”

Tom Cook and his siblings Larry Cook and Mary Lou Ferrell, celebrated her life at her funeral in early June last year.

In order to continue her legacy as an oft-remembered Farmington educator, they have decided to begin a scholarship program for graduating seniors wanting to pursue secondary education.

For scholarship application information, interested seniors can contact their school counselor.

Email Maren Bauer at
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