Meet a Member: Marlene Cook

A long-time friend I always look forward to seeing at NFPW conferences is Marlene Cook. She excels in everything she does and makes each activity a fun event. I remember the passion and fun she brought to the conference tours when the NFPW conference was in Illinois. She has a passion for NFPW and easily forms a friendship with everyone she meets. Meet another unique and unbelievable woman I am honored to call a friend.

Name: Marlene Cook

Marlene Cook, back, with her roommate for NFPW conferences, Cindy Cruz.

Marlene Cook, left, with her roommate for NFPW conferences, Cindy Cruz.

City and State: Lansing, IL

Affiliate and any leadership positions:

Illinois Womans Press Association   I held every office except treasurer. Was president two terms, 1985-1989 – Director of the 1985 “convention” in Chicago – president of POPPS for several years –NFPW & IWPA historian.

Years a member of NFPW:     42

Tell us a little about you.

I was a late bloomer but at 81 I’m still blossoming. A high school teacher told me two weeks before graduating that I wouldn’t be graduating because I didn’t have enough credits. I proved her wrong and in her anger she told me I’d never amount to anything. “Barefoot and pregnant is what you’ll be.” I graduated in 1952, married in ’53, had babies in ’54, ’55, ‘57, ’60 and ’64. I was 30 years old by this time and her words began haunting me. I said, ”Oh no Miss Lundquist, you are NOT winning this one.”

I had been supplying a friend with copy for a “gossip” column she wrote for the local newspaper. I was heavily involved with my children’s actives, school and church, so I knew a lot of people. When she was moving, she recommended I take over her column. I said, ”I’m not a writer!” She said, “Well, you’ve been writing my column for the past year.” The editor asked if I had a typewriter. I said, “Yes sir.” He didn’t ask if I knew how to type. I got the job and six months later I was called into his office. I thought I was getting a pink slip, but instead he offered me fulltime work. I learned newspaper style by comparing every single word the proofreaders had corrected.

I continued to write the column and went on to cover entertainment, review shows, concerts, theater, restaurants and travel writing. I interviewed celebrities, met presidents and first ladies and was rubbing elbows with some pretty important folks. I wrote two books and wrote for various publications. I‘ve consistently won awards and received many special honors. I screamed, “Hey, Miss Lundquist, look at me now. I am something.”

Although I have macular degeneration and get monthly shots into my eye, I continue to freelance and write a monthly eight-page newsletter for our church and another for my high school Class of 1952.

Any career advice you would give?    

Don’t be afraid to go where you haven’t gone before. Explore new places, meet new people, and learn new things. But do your homework before you venture out. That makes you look smarter.

Marlene Cook, back row second from right, with NFPW friends at a NFPW conference tour.

Marlene Cook, back row second from right, with NFPW peeps at a NFPW conference tour.

Which talent would you most like to have?      

I think I’d have enjoyed being an actress. I like to talk (just ask anyone).

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Anywhere that I wouldn’t have to deal with ice and snow and the cold and where I could spend time with family and friends.

What book are you reading?  

I just finished reading “The Book of Joan” about Joan Rivers by her daughter Melissa Rivers and Marlo Thomas’ book, “It Ain’t Over…Till it’s over.” Guess I’m still stargazing.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?  

I was very quiet and extremely shy until I reached 30 and discovered I wasn’t having any fun. I went back to school and there was no stopping me.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?  

IWPA and NFPW accepted me when I was still a ‘wannabe” writer. They treated me like a professional and I learned from each one of the women who were much smarter than I was. The friendships I have cherished through the past 42 years have been my lifeline. They are the ones who made me a somebody. In May, IWPA presented me with a lifetime membership during our awards banquet.

Way to follow you on a website, twitter, Facebook, etc.

I am on Facebook and follow IWPA and NFPW sites.

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One Comment on “Meet a Member: Marlene Cook”


  1. I want to keep blossoming the way Marlene has. She truly is an inspiration!


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