One of Easterseals Northeast Central Florida‘s biggest champions for the past several decades has been David Hood. We learned earlier this week that David passed away with his family by his side. We at Easterseals are heartbroken at this news, while at the same time we continue to be grateful for his life, legacy and all he’s accomplished for our Easterseals families.
David was an incredible leader in Easterseals gift planning initiatives, and through his personal dedication and widely embraced leadership style, helped Easterseals realize some of its most spectacular wishes and dreams. David’s leadership made possible Easterseals Autism Center of Excellence, Easterseals Charter School, Easterseals Tennis Everyone! program, and Easterseals nearly $3 million capital campaign, which he co-chaired with the late Gloria Cook.
And, this is just the beginning of what David helped Easterseals achieve since he became a volunteer director more than three decades ago.
After serving as a board member, chairman of the board, and honorary director, David was named an Honorary Life Director. He also was a recipient of the Lily award, Easterseals Northeast Central Florida’s highest local honor.
It may go without saying that David also was a generous financial supporter of Easterseals, not only during its community-wide campaign drives, but also privately and behind the scenes when specific needs have arisen. David is the kind of leader who asks, “What does Easterseals need most right now?” and his heart led his service.
Easterseals President & CEO Bev Johnson continues to see David’s legacy of caring leadership at Easterseals.
“When I first joined the organization and let people know I worked for Easterseals they all asked how David was,” said Bev. “He was so passionate about Easterseals that the mention of the organization almost seemed to automatically connect him to it.
“While I didn’t enjoy the privilege of knowing him personally, he certainly left a legacy of kindness and caring for our clients and the families who love them,” she added.
Former Easterseals President & CEO Lynn Sinnott remembers David with reverence and affection.
“David Hood demonstrated his commitment to individuals with disabilities in many ways. He served on the Easterseals board in many capacities, including the chairman of the board, board chair for the newly established Easterseals Charter School, and co-chair of the Capital Campaign Committee that raised $2.7 million for the renovation and expansion of the Easterseals facility on Dunn Avenue,” said Lynn. “David shared his business and leadership expertise with board and staff, serving as my mentor when I first started at Easterseals.
“In addition, David was a major donor, helping Easterseals start several major programs that changed the lives of individuals with special needs,” added Lynn. “I know he will truly be missed in the Daytona community.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with David’s family during this difficult time. Easterseals Northeast Central Florida always will be indebted to this great man, humbled by his servant leadership and forever transformed by his passion. He will be greatly missed.
Easterseals Northeast Central Florida’s passionate supporter, lifetime director and beloved matriarch Gloria Cook passed away on March 17. While we at Easterseals are brokenhearted at the news, we also remember Gloria with great reverence, and honor all she’s meant to our organization – the one that was closest to her heart for more than 60 years.
Gloria’s relationship with Easterseals Northeast Central Florida began in 1953 when she, as a young Junior Service Leaguer, donned a crisp white uniform and worked hands-on with an Easterseals therapist to treat the special needs of children with disabilities. That first volunteer assignment began a lifelong unpaid career in serving the needs of people of all ages with disabilities.
Gloria’s involvement in day-to-day activities of the Junior League Orthopedic Center (which became Easterseals) eventually evolved into fundraising and volunteer management, and she soon worked her way up to the board and presidency of the local and state Easterseals affiliates. By 1980, Gloria was elected as the National Easterseal Society President and was the first Floridian and only the second woman to occupy that position.
As national president, worked with as many as 800,000 volunteers across the country, and met with various private and governmental agencies and hospitals, national media offices and state rehabilitation facilities and all Easterseals affiliates to further the mission of serving persons with disabilities.
Gloria was named Honorary Lifetime Director for Easterseals Volusia/Flagler in tribute to her continuous board member and committee roles and in 2004 was honored with Easterseals’ Volusia and Flagler’s highest honor, The Lily Award. Additionally, she served multiple leadership roles with the statewide Florida Easterseals chapter over a span of 21 years – including president, vice president, secretary and past president – and assisted the House of Delegates of Easterseals national headquarters. Her commitment to serving others also flowed into several additional national and local roles, including the White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health and the National Institute of Health.
One of Gloria’s most notable achievements as an Easterseals director was co-chairing with the late David Hood a $3 million capital campaign to construct Easterseals’ Daytona Beach facility. Notably, Gloria was the Easterseals chair when the original facility was built as well. Her leadership brought both projects to reality, though more than 40 years separated them.
Gloria’s life’s work for Easterseals shaped countless public policy and helped decision-makers understand issues important to Easterseals. And, while she often focused on state and national initiatives, she remained equally engaged in the local agency’s day-to-day projects. From collection donations for Harley Give-Aways during Bike Week, to supporting the inaugural and now decades-established Rotary/Easterseals Golf Tournament (a tournament started by her late husband Tom in tribute to Gloria’s dedication), Gloria was a hands-on supporter.
Easterseals VP-Gift Planning Susan Moor recalls their friendship and Gloria’s sincere interest in Easterseals families.
"Gloria was a wonderful friend and mentor to me since day one and throughout my Easterseals career,” said Susan. “I think what I valued the most in her contagious and unbridled pride for all things Easterseals, was her incredible ability to remember and value details about her interactions with our clients and their families. Our clients meant the world to her and she would often arrive at meetings and functions early enough to peek into the classroom and therapy areas to see kids at work and play."
“Gloria has been a guiding light for us at Easterseals for many, many years,” said Easterseals President & CEO Bev Johnson. “Her kind spirit and love and dedication to the clients we serve is absolutely irreplaceable. She will be missed greatly.”
Former Easterseals President & CEO Lynn Sinnott also shared her sentiments.
“Gloria Cook loved Easterseals and served individuals with special needs throughout her adult life. She served in so many capacities during more than 60 years she was a part of Easterseals it would be almost impossible to name them.
“I remember her as gracious, strategic, fun, loving and caring,” added Lynn. “She took time to discuss a small or strategic issue with me, pen the most beautiful notes, help to make a connection and even questioning a budget number. Every action was handled thoughtfully. I will miss her, as will whole Easterseals organization and all who experienced her passion.”
Instilling in her children a love for Easterseals and a desire for service, Gloria’s daughter Sheryl continues to be a leader with Easterseals Northeast Central Florida.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Cook family during this difficult time. Gloria’s vision, heart and loyalty live on in Easterseals Northeast Central Florida. She always will be an important part of our family – a beloved matriarch to whom we owe much gratitude.