WTIU to premiere documentary about late entrepreneur and philanthropist Bill Cook

  • Feb. 24, 2014


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- WTIU Public Television will premiere a documentary about the late entrepreneur and philanthropist Bill Cook, who started the medical device business that would become Cook Group in his Bloomington apartment.

The hourlong program, "Bill Cook: A Heck of a Ride," premieres at 8 p.m. March 4 on WTIU, the public television station from Indiana University. It will also be available via live stream March 5 to 31. Sponsors for the show include Indiana University, the Office of the Provost, IU Foundation and IU Health Bloomington, with additional funding from Curry Auto Center and BioCrossroads.

"If you watch this program you will learn about Bill's character, but also that he was a character," producer Ron Prickel said. "His story is told by the people who knew Bill best, and I believe that those who knew Bill will say, 'Yep, that was Bill.'"

While Cook was known by many throughout the Hoosier state for his business acumen, he was also a devoted family man, a pilot, a force in historic preservation for the state and producer of an award-winning Broadway musical. He died in 2011.

Born in Mattoon, Ill., Cook earned a degree from Northwestern University. In 1963, he and his wife, Gayle, started what became Cook Group, investing $1,500 in a blowtorch, soldering iron and plastic tubing to make catheters in their Bloomington apartment. In 1993, Cook’s company was the first in the nation to sell coronary stents, tubes that are inserted into a blood vessel.

Named one of America's richest people by Forbes, Cook and his wife led the restoration of many Indiana buildings, including the iconic West Baden Springs and French Lick hotels.

He also created a drum and bugle corps known as Star of Indiana, and he often helped drive the buses that transported the corps across the country on tour. The corps later debuted the stage show "Blast!," which moved to Broadway, winning the 2001 Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event and the 2001 Emmy Award for Best Choreography.

Cook was an Indiana University trustee from 1995 to 1998, and his myriad contributions to IU included gifts to the School of Medicine, the Jacobs School of Music, the School of Education, the Wells Scholars program and IU Athletics.

Media Contacts

Scott Witzke

  • WTIU Public Television
  • Office 812-855-5068