MORGANTOWN — When the Monongalia County Board of Education meets March 13, it will take up the academic calendar changes made necessary by that recent nine-day, statewide teacher walkout.

However, that won’t be the first thing it will do.

Instead, it will take a moment to honor Steve Cook, the former longtime board member who died last Friday in Florida.

Cook, 76, succumbed at his home in Winter Haven, surrounded by his family.

He spent his professional life, most of it in north-central West Virginia, surrounded by workingman’s causes.

Working for the cause of the rank-and-file is what first brought the Iowa native to West Virginia in the mid-1960s, where he helped organize labor unions as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty initiatives in Appalachia.

Barbara Parsons, the current president of the Monongalia County Board of Education, also made her career in labor relations. Her mentor was Cook.

“He was always an advocate for the employees,” she said.

“He was always challenging us to think of the employees.”