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Gregory Cooke, attorney and librarian, dies

Gregory Cooke, attorney and librarian, dies
Gregory Cooke switched from lawyer to librarian to help people face to face. (HANDOUT)

Gregory David Cooke, an attorney who went on to become a Baltimore County librarian, died of glioblastoma cancer March 22 at his Columbia home. He was 31.

Born in Ellicott City, he was the son of David Cooke, a retired banker, and his wife, Susan Gregory, a retired librarian. He attended Northfield Elementary and Dunloggin Middle schools and was a 2005 graduate of Centennial High School. He wrestled, played football and performed in school plays.

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He also appeared with the Spotlighters and the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies at St. John’s University in Minnesota, he received a degree at the University of Maryland School of Law. As a law student, he volunteered for University of Maryland Medical System research projects and his glioblastoma was diagnosed.

He practiced law with the Maryland Office of the Public Defender as a volunteer.

“As bail review supervisor, I had the privilege of working closely with Greg when he volunteered for our office,” said Steve Rothwell, an attorney. “Greg was fearless. He advocated fervently on behalf of our clients, attacking every obstacle to his client’s freedom, undaunted by the hurdles that stood in his way. He was a strong believer in justice and fairness for his clients. But what I remember most is his eagerness to learn. He was constantly asking questions, seeking more information, anything that could improve his effectiveness as a litigator.”

Brian Levy, also an attorney, met Mr. Cooke at the Eastside District Court. “Greg was such a kind, compassionate and smart person — exactly who you wanted to do that kind of work. He cared about his clients. He seemed to me a guy who was enjoying life with a smile on his face. He was one of those people you wanted to be around.”

He met his future wife, Kelly MacBride-Gill, at a social gathering.

“I crashed the party — and as it turned out, a friend had been trying to get me and Greg together all that night,” his wife said. “I met a bunch of people, and I didn’t remember who he was at first.”

Friends said that Mr. Cooke, after working in the legal system, grew frustrated with it.

“He felt it was important for people to assist people and he wanted to do it in a face-to-face way,” said a friend, William Malkus. “He found that working in a library helped him be a teacher, social worker and a guidance counselor all in one.”

Mr. Cooke began his work with the Baltimore County Public Library system at Catonsville as a circulation assistant and was soon promoted to a librarian. He worked at the Reisterstown and Pikesville branches.

“Greg was good at talking with people and at getting them to open up and say what they really wanted,” said Mr. Malkus, a fellow librarian. “He was adept at it, good without prying. He could coax it out. Even though he worked at the library for just over two years, he left an impression on his co-workers.”

In his free time, he joined friends at tabletop role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons. He also spent time in Baltimore’s neighborhood restaurants and taprooms.

“He loved the city and good craft beers. He was a fan of Heavy Seas and Union Craft. One of his favorite places to eat was Trinacria deli on Paca Street, ” said Mr. Malkus. “Greg loved to talk. He was also a good listener. He was empathic.”

Mr. Cooke was constant and fast reader.

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“He loved to challenge himself and read thriller-horror and graphic novels all the time,” said Mr. Malkus.

He was recalled for his enthusiasm.

Friends described his affection for the Pittsburgh Steelers as stubborn and baffling. They said he also was an aficionado of good jokes and could declaim Shakespeare informally. He also spent time on trails in Patapsco State Park.

“He was a gregarious guy and once he had an attachment to a person, he did not leave that person behind,” his wife said.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. April 27 at St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church, 5422 Old Frederick Road.

In addition to his wife of three years. a University of Maryland Extension Service sea grants program coordinator, and his parents, survivors include a brother, Andrew Cooke of Baltimore; two sisters, Sarah Cooke and Emily Shreve, both of Columbia; and three nephews.

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