Rex Cook still keeps in touch with students he first taught when he started teaching at Grafton High School back in 1950.
The love and affection these students, many of whom are aged in their 70s and 80s, still have for her father, is one of the reasons Wendy Cook-Burrows nominated Mr Cook for an OAM.
She said the 92-year-old Mount Ousley man was “gobsmacked” when notified of his OAM for service to the community of Wollongong, and to education.
Mr Cook started his 40-year teaching career at Granville High School in 1945.
He also taught at Grafton HS and Berkeley HS [know known as Illawarra Sports High School], where he also served as assistant principal.
He also held this role at Smiths Hill Girls HS and was principal at Wollongong HS for 10 years from 1975.
“We come from a family of teachers, mum was also a teacher. My sisters also teach, while I used to be a teacher,” Mrs Cook-Burrows said.
“Dad was a great teacher and deserves this recognition.
“As an educator he was prepared to make the tough decisions in order to achieve the best outcomes possible for his students.
“One of his favourite sayings is ‘to thine own self be true’, something he has embraced in his own life.”
Mr Cook, who was born in Mudgee in 1925, has also always been community-minded.
He has had two stints as a Lions Club of Wollongong member. The first started in 1963 and lasted 12 years. The second stint started in 1982 and is still going.
During this time he as served as a zone chairman (1968-70), president (1968-69, 1990-91, 1995-96) and bulletin editor (1965-68).