Bayard Sylvester Cook was born May 22, 1882 at Cordova, Talbot Co., Maryland. His parents were Peter and Augusta (Pippin) Cook. Bayard grew up in Maryland and graduated from Easton High School. When he was eighteen he moved to Philadelphia where he worked with the Boston and Philadelphia Steamship Co. while attending the Temple University Law School. After attaining his law degree in 1907 he began his law practice in Philadelphia and remained there until 1915 when he moved his family to St. Petersburg, Florida. 1907 was an eventful year for Bayard. He graduated law school and was admitted to the bar, started his law practice and married S. Jane Berryman.
In 1919 Bayard formed a partnership with John D. Harris under the name of Cook and Harris. He was a member of the Florida State Bar Association and the St. Petersburg Bar Association, where he was elected as president June 6, 1928. He served several years as City Attorney of St. Petersburg and was a judge as well. He served as chairman of the St. Petersburg Citizen’s Emergency Committee until it was resolved on March 15, 1933 saying; “Since it has served its purpose, there is nothing else to be done.” Through the years Bayard also served as president of the chamber of commerce and was the president of the Central National Bank and Trust Company during a time when there was a run on the bank after the closing of the First National and First Security Banks.
Bayard and Jane had three sons, Bayard S, Jr., Douglas Berryman and James Gilbert. The boys were raised in a home where an emphasis was placed on civic duty. Not only was their father involved in the community, but their mother as well. All three of Bayard’s sons were active in the community but tragically two died young. James a prominent businessman died suddenly October 16, 1942 at the age of twenty-three. He was a co-owner and secretary & treasurer of McCreary-Cook, Inc., a local Oldsmobile Dealership. He was reportedly in good health until his sudden death. As young as he was, James was already a member of the yacht club, junior chamber of commerce and the civilian defense auxiliary police. He was well on his way of making a successful life for himself. Bayard Jr. died at the age of thirty-seven on February 2, 1948 after a long illness in Georgia. He was a past president of the Junior chamber of commerce, former president of McCrea-Cook, Inc. as well as chairman of the Sportsmen’s Fishing Club. Douglas had a tragic life in his early days. In 1934 he was found sitting in his car in front of the Mound Park Hospital with a bullet wound in his right thigh and was reported in serious condition. Apparently he had shot himself a short time after being admonished by his parents. In 1936 while driving he hit a woman causing her to have a leg amputated. Douglas overcame these early obstacles and died an older man on February 1, 1983.
Bayard himself was reported in serious condition in 1944 after his appendix ruptured. He died June 1946 and is buried at the Royal Palms South Cemetery in St. Petersburg. It is not known at this time when Jane died.
Author: Linda Flowers
Source: Ancestry.com, Florida Heritage Collection, Evening Independent and St. Petersburg Times