Tributes for William A Cook

Barry Katzen, Matthew S Johnson and Jim Benenati
Barry Katzen, Matthew S Johnson and Jim Benenati

Interventional radiologists such as Barry Katzen, Matthew S Johnson and Jim Benenati, join senior staff from Cook including John Brumleve, and Joe Roberts to pay tribute to the well-respected entrepreneur, who died in April this year

“The passing of Bill Cook is a major milestone in the field of interventional radiology and all of less- invasive medicine.  Bill was a giant in our field, who was as passionate about the value and importance of interventional procedures and improving care as any practitioner in the field. More importantly, he supported the development of new technology when the pioneers of our field were creating new ideas about treating patients using image guidance, but had no tools or medical devices. His contributions to our field were recognised with Gold Medals from many professional societies including SIR and CIRSE, and he was awarded the Distinguished Career Recognition by ISET several years ago. No one practicing any aspect of interventional medicine and no patient undergoing an interventional procedure has not been affected and benefitted in some way from Bill’s accomplishments in developing Cook Medical and all of the other components of Cook Group. Bill and his family (which included his entire company), were extremely generous to our field though providing philanthropic support, to physicians, institutions, and societies who were trying to improve patient care through less-invasive therapies or multidisciplinary collaborative efforts. Bill was a giant of a man, who lived an incredibly modest and generous life, and never forgot where he came from. Those of us who met and knew him will have memories which will keep us smiling, and feel fortunate to have known one of the iconic figures in medical history. For those of us who have not, your lives and those of our patients have been enriched by his innumerable accomplishments. We will all miss him greatly.”

Barry Katzen, Baptist Cardiovascular Institute, Florida, USA.

“I met Bill Cook on his private jet about 16 years ago. He flew 15 or 20 Indiana University doctors and administrators and me, at that time a young interventional radiologist, fresh out of fellowship, down to Miami, to tour what is now the Baptist Cardiovascular Institute.  Bill thought that Barry Katzen’s practice was the paradigm of successful interdisciplinary cooperation, the perfect example of what could be possible for us.  I did not know then, but know now, that that unparalleled effort was typical of him. He was a tireless supporter of Indiana, of Indiana University, and of interventional radiology. He ran his company with integrity, and he ran it well. I know that he always held the best interests of interventional radiology in his heart, and I like to believe that he always had the best interests of Indiana there as well. It always seemed that way, anyway. All of us at Indiana University, in Indiana, and certainly in interventional radiology, will miss him.”

Matthew S Johnson, Indiana University School of Medicine, USA

“Bill will be sorely missed by all those in interventional radiology. Perhaps those who did not know him suffer the greatest loss. Bill was an innovator, a pioneer and a genuine friend and supporter to all those who have participated in the explosive growth in endovascular care over the past forty years. The Cook name and brand will remain ingrained in the minds of endovascular physicians, not just because of the quality products produced over a generation but because of the trust and loyalty that Bill fostered in the interventional community.”

James Benenati, Baptist Cardiovascular Institute, Florida, USA




“Bill Cook was as much a father figure to me as my own father was. Both were great men, but in very different ways. Bill Cook was an entrepreneur in its truest sense. He saw opportunities where other “business people” would not have thought to look. I can cite several medical procedures in which he, along with my colleagues, collaborated with physicians to develop new minimally invasive therapies. This in turn developed into hundreds of new medical procedures in-conjunction with over 42 different medical specialties. I can only guess how many patients we helped physicians and clinicians to treat over the past 48 years. 

 Another very important aspect is how he personally inspired each employee to strive to reach a higher level of performance than you thought possible. This always came with the statement of, “do the right thing” because a patient is to always benefit with the use of a product that we develop or manufacture.

 A final thought from Bill relates to an evening two years ago when I attended a local Historical Society event in Bloomington, Indiana, which featured Bill as a speaker. He commented that, “people look at me as a great genius because I have 50 separate companies but look at myself, I do not just reflect on the 50 or so current companies that I have started, I remember the other 95 companies that did not make it.” He dared to risk failure for the opportunity to achieve success. He was a generous, self-effacing man that made this world a better place to live in.”

John Brumleve, physician societies corporate liaison, Cook Medical


“When I began working for the company in 1979, Bill Cook took me out to shoot basketball followed by sharing a pizza. Little did I know that this man was creating what would become the largest private medical device company in the world. Thinking back on that night, I can see the uncommon man with the common touch which was part of everything he did. His commitment to every patient, physician, employee and every member of the international communities he touched was a consistency running through his life’s work. The last time I saw him he was eating lunch in the company cafeteria surrounded by people who had become part of his dream. That is how I always will remember him.”

Joe Roberts, vice president of corporate development, Cook Medical