Stephenie Kay Cook, 60: Dedicated to family and education

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PORTLAND — Stephenie Kay Cook, 60, died at home on April 1 after a three-year battle against ovarian cancer.

She was born on July 4, 1951, in Freeport, Ill. Independence day, with its fireworks and festivity, always held a special place in her heart and was a day she celebrated with vigor.

Raised all over the state of Illinois, she left the state to attend college at Valparaiso University in Indiana. After graduating, she moved to New York City and appreciated all the city had to offer. In 1978, she graduated from Vanderbilt Law School and began her legal practice as an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn.

While studying at Vanderbilt, she met her husband Rick, with whom she shared a full and wonderful life. That life lead them to homes in New York City; Norwalk, Conn.; Raleigh, N.C.; Sudbury, Mass.; Manchester and Portland.

She eventually transitioned from lawyer to educational leader, with a particular dedication to public school students. She served as an elected school committee member for nine years in Sudbury, twice chairing the committee. She then worked with various school districts throughout Massachusetts, guiding them through challenging leadership projects and issues.

She came to Maine full-time in 2002, serving as the executive director for the Maine Educational Leadership Consortium. Most recently, she worked with the MELMAC Education Foundation, where she helped a host of high schools and their students throughout the state.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by her children, Rich of Seattle, and Sarah of Portland. She was particularly blessed to know and be survived by her grandson, Ryder, born in May 2011 to Rich and his wife, Gretchen. She also leaves her father, R. Stanley Smith, and twin sisters Allison and Leslie and her husband, Jim, and their son, Jamie, of Atlanta.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. April 14 at First Lutheran Church, 132 Auburn St., Portland.

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