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TODAY: Celebration of life for San Diego community member Chuck Cook, who dies at age 35

SAN DIEGO – Charles Robert Cook, known by friends and loved ones as Chuck, died Monday afternoon from injuries that resulted from a car accident in July. He was 35 years old.

News of Cook’s death sent shockwaves across the University of San Diego (USD) campus as well throughout the local LGBT community, as he was an active participant in many campus and community activities and organizations.

Cook had just graduated from University of San Diego with a bachelor’s degree in accounting in May, and had worked at KPMG as an intern. In late May, he had posted his excitement about graduating from USD, and was pleased to have had both his mother and grandmother present at his commencement ceremony.

While at USD, Cook was active in the Associated Students and other student organizations and was well-known and well-liked by many of his fellow students. Off campus, he was a supporter of Stepping Stone and was an alumnus of the organization’s treatment programs.

Cook’s Facebook profile says he was born in Corning, N.Y. and graduated from high school in that city in 1995. He went back to college to earn his degree, and graduated from San Diego City College in 2010 before transferring to USD.

The San Diego County Medical Examiner says that Cook was driving westbound on Dehesa Road in El Cajon on July 8 when another car traveling in the opposite direction crossed the center divider and collided head-on with Cook’s car.

Cook was transported to Sharp Memorial Hospital and had been in intensive care since then.

While Cook was in the hospital, friends and colleagues took to Facebook to offer wishes for a speedy recovery. Cook’s friend JC Kump provided regular updates to followers, which he titled the “Chuckdate.”

Cook went into respiratory failure on Monday, Aug. 13, and his death was pronounced at that time by nursing staff who were unable to revive him.

Dozens of comments were posted to Cook’s Facebook wall after the news of his death was posted:

Frank Gregorio: Love you, Chuck. I’m sad you’re no longer in our lives, but I’m happy you’ve moved on to the next.

Miranda Stratton: Chuck, I am still stunned and in shock by your untimely passing. I have been thinking of you and praying for you as it has been about two years ago since we had met during the infamous USD Torero Days. I remember feeling apprehensive; being a 19 year old student having to tell you, an incoming student, about all there is to know at USD. However, your sense of humor, positive energy, and witty sarcasm helped me feel at ease as we went on Sea World's Wild Arctic ride together. Chuck, I am so glad that I had the opportunity to meet you and thank you for all the laughs and hugs. Lots of love.

Melanie Labonte: Chuck, rest in peace. I really don't understand why you left, but know that you brought a lot of joy in many people's lives. This is such shocking news, but I hope you are in a better place now. I am so glad to have met you & I will be keeping you in my prayers.

Richard Romano: I have been so moved by all the post for the passing of Chuck Cook. It is so wonderful to see how someone can touch so many peoples lives and leave a lasting impression that is pure and genuine. All from taking action with his life and coming into a fellowship that embraced him and loved him. He will be missed not only at this moment but for so many more to come. His memory will live on in all of us and be a shining example of loving life, friendship and true success. Good bye but not ever forgotten.

Beau Osland: We got back from Mass a little while ago to honor and remember you, Chuck. You were such an inspiration to all and such a great mentor for me. We all miss you immensely. You and your family will certainly will not leave our thoughts and prayers. You've given me such big shoes to fill as Speaker, Chuck!

Julie Tunnell: I am absolutely heart broken and devastated. I was Chuck's Accounting Professor at City College and he was THE most inspirational student that I have ever come to know. My prayers go out to his family and friends. RIP Chuck.

Carlos E Wauman Jr: Dear Chuck I don"t even know what to say. it feels like just yesterday i met you that early morning on your first day at Gap, when you fell off the ladder while you were helping me with windows and i spent the day with you at urgent care, the times you slapped my ass whenever i'd walk by you on the sales floor, the early carpools to work, and everything in between. I'll miss you my friend.

Russell Hatch: I hope and pray that I leave just 1% of the impact on this earth that my friend Chuck did. I think each of us get so caught up in our own lives, our own garbage, our own issues to stop and think how we can change the world in a positive way. I’m reminded how poor of a job of it I’m doing. I challenge you and myself to leave a legacy and Live Life to the Fullest.

A celebration of life is being organized for this afternoon at 5 pm at the USD Student Life Pavillion’s third floor courtyard, located at 5998 Alcala Park in Linda Vista.

The event will include a brief presentation, time to share memories, dance music and a celebratory feel.

Free parking will be available on campus, and light refreshments will be served.

Flowers are welcome, but those would like to make a donation on Cook’s behalf are encouraged to support Stepping Stone. Donations can be made HERE.