Today marks the end of one phase of a journey for a Minnesota icon. Sam Cook is retiring as the outdoors writer for the Duluth News Tribune.
For nearly 40 years, his lyrical writing has graced the pages of that publication and provided a window into what it is like to live in northern Minnesota.
For now, he will continue to write his weekly column, which is good news for those who appreciate his talents.
Sam is a storyteller in the finest sense of the word. He is perceptive and thoughtful, and he goes beyond the obvious to find intriguing things about ordinary people and events.
Reading his work is like sitting around a campfire at the end of a day in the woods listening to someone who knows how to tell a story.
I’ve never met Sam, but through his columns, stories, and books, I have come to know something about him.
When Sam writes about paddling a canoe across a secluded lake in the Boundary Waters, or sitting in camp listening to the wind in the trees, the reader is transported to that place.
Sam also has a way of bringing the people he writes about to life on the page.
As one person commented, Sam has the ability “to bridge the gap between the rod-and-gun set and the bike-and-binoculars crowd.”
His writing speaks to anyone who loves the Northland.
His respect even reverence for the environment comes shining through in his writing. It’s clear he cares deeply about the people and the places he covers.
A native of Kansas, Sam has embraced Minnesota as enthusiastically as anyone who was born here.
He started his newspaper career at the Ely Echo, a weekly paper on the edge of northern Minnesota canoe country.
During his legendary career at the Duluth News Tribune, he traveled widely, even visiting the North Pole, and wrote about everything the outdoors has to offer, in every season.
Sam is a remarkable person, and we’re fortunate that his skill as a writer has allowed him to share his special view of the world with us for the past several decades.
One memorable piece Sam wrote years ago encouraged readers to go out and “find the magic” of the outdoors.
As I reflect on his wonderful career, it occurs to me that this is exactly what he has done for all these years.
Not only has he found the magic, but he has shared it with anyone lucky enough to read his work.