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Bonzella Burgess Cook

Bonzella Burgess Cook, 80, died peacefully at her home on October 28, 2014 following a brief illness.

She was born at the home of her grandmother, Sophie Hale Wyatt, in Winesap Community to parents George Alan and Minnie Alice Wyatt Burgess. She was premature and born during a snowstorm. Bonzella was known for being strong willed and determined and overcame these obstacles like many others she faced in her lifetime.

She and her parents lived in the Vandever Community until she was ten years of age. She was greatly influenced by a special teacher, Ms. Helen Whorles. Bonzella proudly displayed the picture of this favorite teacher in her home throughout her life. It was Ms. Whorles who suggested she start to school at the young age of four. (Head start, pre-school, and kindergarten programs were unheard of then.) In true fashion, she was determined to go.

Though small in stature, this tiny girl walked over a mile to and from school each day never missing a day.  Then the family moved to Winesap where she finished eighth grade. For two years she walked 1.5 miles to catch a 6:00 a.m. bus to attend Cumberland County High School. She most gratefully transferred to Bledsoe County High School for her final two years.  

Although she had to continue to meet the bus at 6:00 a.m., it turned around in her yard. She graduated BCHS in the class of 1951. She attended nurses training at Knoxville General Hospital 1952-1955 and then completed what was then known as “Premature Nursing” and “Emergency Room Nursing” before working at Baptist Hospital at Paducah, Kentucky and then in obstetrics at Pineville, Kentucky. She was always proud to say that in all her 16 years including nurses training she never missed a day of school.

When her mother became terminally ill, this young nurse returned to her home to care for her mother and her two much younger brothers, David and Daniel, whose families survive her. At this time she worked at Cumberland Medical Center in Crossville. She worked there until she was requested to teach a Nursing Tech Class and LPN Class in Clay County at Celina for 18 months. She then taught Practical Nursing at Crossville Vocational School Tennessee Technology Center until she became the Nursing Director.

Bonzella was a true advocate for education. She attended many additional courses at UT throughout her career.  She was known for tutoring and mentoring countless numbers of students even opening her home to several when they needed a place to stay. After 35 years, she retired from a career she loved dearly. She was considered by many to be one of the finest and most respected nurses in Tennessee.

Bonzella was a devoted Christian and an active member of Crossville First Baptist Church. 

She was preceded in death by her parents; her first husband of many years, Robert Cook; and her second husband, Jack Cresp.

She led a busy life with many friends and hobbies. She enjoyed traveling, vegetable and flower gardening, needlework, cooking,–especially baking, and card games with friends. She loved her home on Lake Tansi and the very first thing each morning would look out at the water.  

Services were conducted on Saturday, November 1, at the funeral home chapel. Interment followed in Wyatt Cemetery.

Arrangements were entrusted to Hood Funeral Home in Crossville.

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