William Cook was born in Tallahassee, Florida, where he graduated from Leon High School. Cook then moved to Callahan, Florida, to join his uncle’s turpentine and pulpwood business in 1946. After Cook’s service in the United States Air Force, he returned to his career in Callahan where he began building his forestry legacy through the acquisition of the Callahan Timber Company and the creation of Great South Timber and Lumber.
Since joining his family’s logging business 70 years ago, Cook has seen the operation evolve from hand-loading trucks to leading the way in cutting-edge technology, diversification and integration. Cook has shared his passion for forestry by playing a crucial role in increasing the industry’s involvement in securing legislation and improving public outreach.
Cook was instrumental in the creation of the Florida Forestry Foundation, which provides ongoing financial backing for 45 teachers from across the state to participate in the Florida Forestry Teachers’ Tour to educate kids about forestry. In an ongoing effort to move the industry forward, Cook has continuously served on the Florida Forestry Association’s Board of Directors since he was elected to the position in 1974.