Not only was Alice Cook the mother of five children, she was the “founding mother” of what is now Allied Cook Construction.

In 1958, she invested in her husband’s desire to start a construction business, said her son David Cook.

“She was a great partner for my dad,” said her son, who now runs the business. “She wasn’t interfering at all, but was always there.”

Mrs. Cook died Wednesday. She was 97.

Originally from Georgia, she was “truly a Georgia peach,” her son said. She came to Maine with her family when she was 6, and lived on a family farm where the Portland International Jetport is today. Her love of animals and gardening was born from the family’s farm and fields of vegetables.

“She loved gardening,” said her daughter Elaine Sylvester.

One of Mrs. Cook’s favorite pastimes was to visit Skillins Greenhouse and walk up and down the aisles, buying flowers for her garden. Her daughter said she had quite an assortment of flowers, and gladioluses were some of her favorites.

Sylvester remembers that when she was young, her parents harvested strawberries on their land. In the early summer, Mrs. Cook would have Sylvester sit in front of their house, selling strawberries for 25 cents a carton.

Mrs. Cook was “a good old-fashioned mother,” her son said.

“She was always there when we were home,” he said. “All throughout our life, she was always there regardless of what we were going through.”

When Mrs. Cook and her husband, Donald, started Allied Construction, they worked out of a home office. Her son said she answered the phones and handled bookkeeping for the business. As the business grew, her husband had to hire a full-time secretary, but she was always supportive.

“She was always interested in all the buildings he built,” Sylvester said.

When her son took over the business in 1977, after Donald Cook’s death, he kept her involved.

“I always used to visit her whenever I landed a new job,” he said. “It made her happy that her husband’s business was continuing on.”

When the business struggled, “She was always there, too, with an encouraging word. She’d tell me to hang in there and just keep plugging away,” he said.

After her husband’s death, Mrs. Cook bought a condominium in Sarasota, Fla., and wintered there for years. Her daughter said Mrs. Cook knew every good restaurant in Sarasota.

In Greater Portland, Mrs. Cook had a few restaurants that she liked to visit when Sylvester would visit on Tuesdays from New Hampshire.

“She and my sister and I would always go out for lunch,” Sylvester said. “She looked forward to that.”

 

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

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