Issa B. Cook
September 20, 1935 – September 6, 2019
Issa Boulus Cook, 83, passed away on the morning of Friday, September 6, 2019.
He was born to the late Boulus and Iknou Cook on September 20, 1935, in Ramallah, Palestine. Issa was the youngest of six siblings and is survived by his wife, Rose Shunnarah Cook; sisters Naimeh Khoury of Livonia, Michigan and Najla Balat of Houston; children Diana and her husband Ron Bateh, Dr. Paul and his wife Dr. Cathy Gabel Cook, Samar and her husband Dr. Steve Ajluni, Dr. Samir and his wife Dr. Dannette Smith Cook, Nadim and his wife Omniah Ebeid. He also is survived by 11 grandchildren: Rana, Steven, David, Claudia, Issa, Joseph, Kamil, Laila, David, Nicholas and Catherine.
After graduating from the Ramallah Friends School in Palestine, Issa attended the University of Texas at Austin then moved back to Palestine to begin his professional career. He met and married Rose Shunnarah in 1958, and they began a family while he focused on his career in the travel industry. He and Rose were involved in the Ramallah community, and Issa became deputy mayor of Ramallah in 1965, as well as European regional director for Royal Jordanian Airlines. In 1972, Issa relocated his family to Houston, Texas, and continued his career as President of IBC Travel International, Inc. He furthered his business career as President and Chairman of IBC Investments, Inc., where he was involved in local real estate projects, as well as property development and tourism in the West Bank and Jordan. His prominence in international business and relations in the Middle East led to diplomatic involvement including a trip in 1994 with US Vice President Al Gore to Morocco, where he served as a member of the American Delegation for the Middle East/North African Economic Summit. While there, he worked with numerous business leaders from 61 countries to further build upon the peace negotiations established at the Oslo Accords in 1993.
His favorite role, though, was that of grandfather. Issa was involved in the lives of all of his grandchildren and never went a day without touching base with them or asking about them. He made sure each one had a cell phone when they turned 10 so he could always reach them. Issa was not shy about letting his pride for their academic, athletic and personal accomplishments be known. Their successes were undoubtedly influenced by his work ethic, passion for education and pride for his heritage.
Issa loved to gather with his grandchildren and his extended family, and share his love of good food, fine cigars, and knowledge of the world. As he eventually retired, he made himself available for carpool and airport pick-ups, lunches every weekend with whoever was available, and the requisite Sunday dinners in Sugar Land.
Issa was committed to investing in the future of young people. He established many scholarships and funded educational endeavors throughout his life. In 2015, The University of Houston honored him for his generous contribution to their Center for Arab Studies Endowment. Additionally, he was a significant contributor to the American Federation of Ramallah Palestine Education Fund and a member of St. George Orthodox Christian Church in Houston, Texas.
In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations be made to any of these foundations: Arab American Educational Foundation- Issa B. Cook Family scholarship in Arab Studies; United Palestine Appeal; Ramallah Friends School; American Federation of Ramallah Palestine Education Fund.
Visitation: Sunday, Sept. 8, from 5-6pm followed by Trisagion prayers 6-7pm Meal of Mercy in Church Hall immediately afterward. St. George Orthodox Christian Church 5311 Mercer Street, Houston, TX 77005
Funeral: Monday, Sept. 9 at 11am St. George Orthodox Christian Church, followed by interment at Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery. Meal of Mercy in Church Hall afterward at St. George Orthodox Christian Church 5311 Mercer Street, Houston, TX 77005
- Visitation Sunday, September 8, 2019
- Rosary Service Sunday, September 8, 2019
- Funeral Service Monday, September 9, 2019
- Graveside Service Monday, September 9, 2019