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French Lick Resort Developer Bill Cook Passes Away


Golf resort developer and medical device mogul William Alfred Cook, 80, died April 15 in Bloomington, Ind. From a back bedroom in a Bloomington, Ind., apartment, Cook and his wife, Gayle, grew a mom-and-pop company that pioneered vascular medicine into a firm that today employs 10,000 worldwide.

Cook died in Bloomington peacefully at his home. He is survived by Gayle and their son Carl.

Cook Inc. was responsible for creating minimally invasive medical devices. It was the first manufacturer to produce a coronary stent. A related company, CFC Properties Inc., developed real estate and renovated dozens of historic but dilapidated buildings, including churches, in his adopted hometown of Bloomington and throughout Indiana.

His renovation of French Lick Resort cost an estimated cost of $500 million. The development encompassed both the French Lick Springs Hotel and the West Baden Springs Hotel, located about a mile apart, which were both fully restored to their original conditions. The casino was built adjacent to the French Lick hotel and opened in 2006. The West Baden Springs property, with its massive dome, reopened as a hotel in 2007 for the first time since 1932. The hotels have a combined 689 rooms.

The resort also has three golf courses. In June 2009 the Pete Dye Course at French Lick opened. Renovations were also made on the resort's historic hilltop course, designed by Donald Ross. Constructed in 1917, the course hosted the 1924 PGA Championship.

The reclamation of French Lick Resort has had an enormous economic impact on the town of French Lick. Cook's vision provides jobs for nearly 1,700 of the county's 3,000 residents.

"Bill Cook's life was an inspiration and those who knew him will miss him dearly," said Steve Ferguson, a longtime friend and chairman of the board of Cook Group, Inc. "Few men have ever touched as many lives, saved as many lives, as Bill Cook and the company he created."