Cover photo for Thomas W. Cook's Obituary
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1963 Thomas 2021

Thomas W. Cook

April 27, 1963 — May 17, 2021

Thomas Wade “Tom” Cook, 58, of Sharpsburg, MD, passed away peacefully on Monday, May 17, 2021, in Washington, D.C. after a long and valiant battle for his health. Tom, at his passing, was one of the longest successful heart transplant beneficiaries in the United States after receiving the miracle gift of life in 1989.

Tom was born on April 27, 1963, to Ray Cook (d. 1965) and Anna Cook (Johnson) (d. 2019) in the beautiful Central New York city of Norwich. Tom joined a large family at 23 Pleasant Street with five siblings, Jackie Bowman of Salem, Oregon, Earnest Cook (d. 2018), Jane Cook Simmons of Shepherdstown, West Virginia, Victoria Henderickson (d. 2014), Annette Monday, of Norwich, along with 12 aunts and uncles and 20 cousins as part of the Norwich-centered Johnson Clan. His home for many years was led by his widowed maternal grandmother, Verna Johnson VanTine (nee Sliter) (d. 1986), the well-known and much-loved matriarch. Unfortunately, Tom Cook had no memories of his birth father, who died when Tom was only 2 years old. In 1970 his widowed mother married Thomas Kennedy (d. 2013). He was wonderful to Tom and the big family added two stepbrothers, Thomas Kennedy Jr (d.1975) and Larry Kennedy (d. 2009) to the growing family mix.

Growing up in Norwich in the 1960’s and 70’s afforded Tom a wonderful community and natural playground to engage in and explore with his cousins Stephen, Bryan, and Nate. Tom attended St. Paul’s Parochial School and then transferred to Norwich Sr. High School as part of the Class of 1981. Tom was a Boy Scout and an Altar Boy at St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church. He was a passionate Harley Davidson motorcycle owner and rider and serious Heavy Metal and Progressive/Psychedelic music fan. After leaving Norwich in the early 1980’s, Tom eventually settled near family in the Maryland area working in the shipping and logistics fields with companies such as Allied Plywood and Coca Cola. He retired in 2006 after 20 years working in this field.

In 1989, during a scheduled surgery to repair a longstanding heart murmur, Tom’s heart failed. Tom’s doctors put out a world-wide alert for an available heart. Simultaneously, through a tragic nearby motorcycle accident, a donor heart became available. This heart, against incredible odds, tissue-type matched Tom and the rest is history. Thank you, Jeff, Susan, and the entire Brown family for the blessed gift!

In 1997, he met the love of his life, Sheila Shapiro, through mutual friends. They were married in 1999. Sheila had two boys from an earlier marriage, Seth Poffenberger (d. 2015) and Daniel Poffenberger (AKA Jr.) (d. 2017) that Tom loved as his own and he became a committed father and eventual grandfather and foster parent to numerous children over the years. Tom and Sheila's home was full of family, pets, music, and love. Tom was also predeceased by Sheila’s loving mother Helena Shapiro (d. 2019) and sister Gale (d. 2011). Tom is survived by his wife of 21 years, Sheila Shapiro Cook, their grandchildren, Danielle, Madison, Devaeh, Danika, Danae, and Danyi'a Poffenberger, Alexis Crabtree, and Dillon Moore, four dogs and a cat, and sisters-in-law, Marlene, Susie, and Diane (Mark). Tom is also survived by his sisters, Jackie Bowman (David), Jane Cook Simmons (Bill) and Annette Monday (Tom), stepsister Laini Amaritnant (Kitt), Aunts Jean Markiewicz, Char Wenzel, Mickey Johnson, Uncle Don Wenzel, cousins Verna Johnson Broekhuizen, Linda Bradford, Elaine Rohinsky, Lauren Miller, Stephen Stark, Bryan Moore, Connie, Leslie and Fred Cook, Dianna Sparks, and others. Tom was loved by numerous nieces and nephews across the country and around the world.

Memorial services will be held at a combined cousins Celebration of Nathan Souders’ + Tom Cook's lives in Norwich, NY at the First Baptist Church, West Park Place, on Saturday, July 3, 2021 beginning at 11:00 AM. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Western Maryland Donate Life Ambassadors (founded by Tom) and/or the Marfan Syndrome Foundation, two nonprofit organizations Tom was very passionate about. Please know, in the end, Tom intentionally donated his body to science in a determined effort to insure other people benefit from the gifts he received in his own life. We can all learn from his example of love and service! To leave the family a message of condolence, please visit the Wilson Funeral Home website at:

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Thomas W. Cook, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, July 3, 2021

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

First Baptist Church of Norwich

10 West Park Place, Norwich, NY 13815

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