Hancock welcomes home pair of seasoned travelers

September 12, 2006

HANCOCK - In August, the Rotary Club of Hancock welcomed home Dr. Carol Becker and her husband, Ross Cook, arguably the town's most well-traveled couple.

Both are longtime foreign service officers for the U.S. government with more than 60 years of service between them. Becker and Cook have returned from four years in Sri Lanka to retire and to end careers that covered much of Africa and the Caribbean, as well as assignments in South America and South Asia.

Washington assignments filled out their time.

Their intent now is to be full-time residents of Hancock and to become more involved in community activities.

Cook, who retired first, began his career in 1966 with the Foreign Agriculture Service and then switched to the State Department. He has the distinction, while on their rolls, of being "loaned" to all the Foreign Affairs agencies in the U.S. government.

Assignments overseas included Nigeria, Benin, Barbados, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, South Africa, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Guinea Algeria, Central African Republic, Botswana and Guyana.


His last Washington assignment was as executive director of the Office of Foreign Buildings Operation, the arm of the government that builds many of the U.S. structures overseas. Since retiring, he has returned to diplomatic service for 16 assignments because, as he explains, "The State Department can't find anyone dumb enough to go where it sends me."

Carol Becker, who has three degrees from Case Western Reserve University, started her career in the teaching profession, but she also served in Virginia as director of the Commission on the Status of Women and as executive director of the Epilepsy Association in Washington, D.C.

Overseas, she headed the U.S. Agency for International Development Missions in Sudan, Guyana and Sri Lanka. In Washington, she was in charge of technical assistance for Asian and the Near East, an area stretching from Morocco on the Atlantic to the Philippines in the Pacific. She also taught at the Foreign Service Institute.

They both have the rare distinction of heading U.S. Embassies as Chief of Mission or Charges d' Affairs - Becker in Guyana and Sri Lanka, and Cook in Barbados and Sudan.

When the tsunami struck Sri Lanka in December 2004, Becker coordinated the U.S. relief effort in that country.

When asked if they are worried they will not be busy enough living retired in Hancock, the answer is a positive, "Not at all!"

High on their "to-do" list is getting to know their 2-year-old granddaughter and their 2-year-old goddaughter.

The couple stressed that one of the negative aspects of foreign service life is the separation from family and friends. They intend to renew contacts with the many people they have served in their careers and to expand their circle of friends in the Hancock area. Also, they will continue the restoration and renovation of the old stone manor house Delecarlia on Locher Road.

Becker and Cook are available to make presentations at schools, clubs and other organizations on topics such as Sri Lanka, Guyana, Africa, international development and terrorism.

Both are Rotarians, and Cook will be president of the Rotary Club of Hancock next year.

They created a mini-orchard at Joseph Hancock Park in recognition of the significance of the past orchard businesses. While in Sri Lanka, both were active members of the Rotary Club in Colombo.

The couple brought back to the U.S. 15 cats displaced by the tsunami in Sri Lanka. The cats are in need of homes.

Thomases, staff gain Rotary salute

This year's Hancock Rotary float is honoring Dr. and Mrs. Frank Thomas and staff - Rose Marie Reynolds, Pam Smith and Linda Bishop - for taking care of the community's families for 48 years. They have worked together in providing medical service to patients spanning five generations.

Riding on the float will be five generations of Mitchells. One of their first patients was Bus Mitchell. Dr. Thomas has been the family physician for Bus and the four succeeding generations of Mitchells - Stanley and David Mitchell, and Anastasia and Jaidallyn Andrews.

They will make their first appearance in the Lions Club Canal Apple Days Parade on Saturday, Sept. 16, and the second one in the Hancock Rotary's Halloween Parade in October.

Upcoming Hancock Rotary Club events

· Today - District governor's visit

· Sept. 14 - Dictionary project in Fulton County, Pa.

· Sept. 16 - Lions Club Canal Apple Days parade

· Sept. 20 - Rotary Day at HCC

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