Retired long-time Pierce College staff member Norma Cook died Sept. 8 from cancer.
Cook worked at Pierce from July 1971 until her retirement in June 1995.
During her time at Pierce, Cook directed Puyallup’s Alternative Learning Center, which currently is named the Advising and Testing Center.
She is remembered fondly by her peers as a caring and effective leader who was passionate about learning.
Reading and Study Skills Instructor Jeffery Pisetzner described Cook as the type of leader who left people room to do their work, but had no reservations telling them if they were messing up.
“She was direct, honest and had a passion for teaching and learning,” he said.
Pisetzner also recalled Cook’s dedication to her fellow employees.
“Although she was usually grading papers or busy with activities related to ALC operations, her door was open and she would be happy to speak with me—if I could get the approval of her office assistant, who protected her like a pit bull,” Pisetzner said.
Pisetzner recalled how Cook shared her teaching philosophy and vision for the future with him as well as her take on current affairs.
“We had lots of great chats, and under her tutelage, I became a better instructor. I know there are still people here who knew Norma, and I hope they share my sentiments,” Pisetzner said.
Part-time instructor Jean Murphy recalled her first meeting with Cook.
“In 1987, when I came to interview at Pierce, I more or less tripped over Norma in the parking lot and then asked her where the room was for the interview,” Murphy said.
Murphy and Cook then started a conversation about grammar and editing, and walked to the room where Murphy was interviewed for the English instructor position.
Murphy described how Cook became her mentor.
“Her support was unflinching but never gratuitous; having her chair my tenure committee was an honor and deep pleasure,” Murphy said.
Cook was born on Nov. 19, 1932 to Jesse and Beatrice Mills. She received her early education in Louisiana and completed her graduate studies at Washington State University.
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