Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas


November 9, 2009

Leland P. Cook Jr.

Business and civic leader Leland P. Cook Jr. passed away Friday, Nov. 6, 2009, after a courageous battle with a lengthy illness at the age of 75. He was born Dec. 19, 1933, to Leland Preston Cook Sr. and Maudine Cook in Abilene. He was the only son of four children. Leland married his junior high sweetheart and love of his life, Sue Burton of Abilene. He attended Texas A&M; on a football scholarship and graduated in 1956 with a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture economics. He was also a Golden Glove Heavy Weight boxing champion at Abilene High School, where he graduated in 1952.

After graduation from college, he worked in banking, as well as the grocery and newspaper business in the Abilene area. In 1967, Leland moved his family, Sue and four boys, Byron, Rob, Ken and Lance, to Corsicana, to begin a career at the Corsicana Daily Sun as circulation manager. His youngest son Brad was born in Corsicana in 1970.

In 1972, Leland began to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities with the purchase of Cabell’s, a small convenience store in downtown Corsicana. In 1975, Cook purchased Cranford Vending Company, now known as Master Vend; which is presently owned and operated by his son, Lance. In 1985, Leland and his oldest son Byron started TRADEWEST, which initially licensed and marketed coin-operated video games, including the top selling game in 1986, Ikari Warrior. The Japanese developer of Ikari Warrior was so enamored with Leland’s unique personality that he was included as a character in the final game seen at the end, Colonel Cook. In 1987, TRADEWEST became a pioneering company in the new home entertainment video game industry. As one of the early licensees of Nintendo, TRADEWEST produced such classic hits as Double Dragon, Super Off Road, and Battletoads.

In the late 1980s, Leland and Sue fulfilled a lifelong dream of ranching by purchasing property now known as Richland Ranch. In the early 1990s, Leland turned his attention to the horse-racing industry. His first stakes winning horse was Senior Foxfire. In 1993, his racehorse Dixieland Heat won the Louisiana Derby, qualifying him for the Kentucky Derby. Also, their horse, Gold Nugget earned Horse of the Year through the Texas Thoroughbred Association. Leland was a prominent owner and horse breeder in Texas and received many awards and accolades from the industry.

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