David Cook, a lifetime newspaperman, has written over 2,000 articles on the history of Ocala and Marion County over a 35 year period, all published on weekly basis in the Ocala Star-Banner. A few columns stretch as far away as the South Pacific but all have a Marion County connection.
During a newspaper career that began in 1950, David has written thousands of non-historical articles for newspapers in Georgia and Florida. He is a retired editor of the Ocala Star-Banner today where he began as sports editor and is a former associate editor of the Tallahassee Democrat.
David actually began his research into the history of Ocala/Marion County when a student at Ocala High School. Over the years, with the help of his readers, he has amassed a collection of materials and documents that provided him with an impressive supply of historical reference and local lore.
In his historical columns, David says he has tried to tell the story of the people and events that form the history of the area. He has also written a book called "Historic Ocala" and has contributed to several books by other authors.
A resident of Ocala since the age of four, he was born in Delray Beach in 1927. He began contributing articles to the Star-Banner while still in high school. Following graduation, he was drafted and trained at Fort Knox as a tank driver. As World War II ended. he was transferred to the Army Air Corps where he received on-the-job training in Iceland as a weatherman.
David then attended the University of Georgia where he earned a journalism degree from the Grady School of Journalism. While still a student, he traveled the state of Georgia writing publicity for a candidate for governor.
His first daily newspaper job was with the Moultrie, Ga., Observer where he served in a number of capacities, including researching and writing a daily historical article. He joined the Ocala Star-Banner as sports editor and was promoted to other positions as time passed. He became editor in the early 1960s and in 1967 left to became associate editor of the Tallahassee Democrat.
After a dozen years reporting and commenting on state governmental activities, he returned to Ocala as managing editor of the Star-Banner in charge of a much larger newsgathering operation. Later he was reassigned to the editorial page as associate editor. It was a return to the writing, which he loved.
Retirement from full-time duties came in 1995, but he continued to write and assemble vintage pictures for his historical column "The Way It Was" for another decade. He stopped writing to care for his wife, Mariam, in her last illness. Mariam had been a teacher at Ocala High School and the junior college before becoming a vocational rehabilitation counselor for the State of Florida.
In his opinion, the most significant event in this area's rich history, aside from the Civil War, was the beginning of the Cross-Florida Ship Canal in 1935 when thousands of people poured into the county looking for work in the dark days of the Great Depression. What amounted to a new town, Roosevelt Village was created on the outskirts of Ocala as the administrative center for the extensive digging that was soon underway. Congress ended the project a year later leaving hundreds of men without jobs. Roosevelt Village eventually became a residential subdivision.