Among the men endowed with the true gift of inspired leadership in the educational life of the state, one of the most notable is Dr. Charles W. Cookson, present superintendent of  public schools in Franklin County. Doctor Cookson has been a teacher, school administrator, lecturer on the educational platform and at all times has had a vital message to deliver and an influence for good to exercise, whether in contact with children or in his work among teachers.

His own life has been a record of self achievement. He was born in Clayton Township, Perry County, Ohio, son of William and Maria Cookson, and his early advantages were limited to the country schools of that day. He attended Fultenham Academy in Muskingum County, completed his sophomore year in Wooster College, and in 1895 was graduated with the degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Pedagogy at the Ohio University at Athens. Subsequently Ohio University conferred upon him the degrees Master of Arts and Doctor of Pedagogy. These degrees marked real achievement as a scholar and also in his work as a teacher, since he had taught school at intervals throughout the period he was obtaining his college education. He taught at Shawnee, New Straitsville and Somerset, and in 1906 was appointed superintendent of schools at Troy, Ohio. That office he held for thirteen years. In the summer of 1919 he accepted the offer made by the county Board of Education of Franklin County to become county superintendent of schools, and since then his office and home have been in Columbus.

In Franklin County Doctor Cookson has repeated the success that has long attended his efforts as a teacher and superintendent. He is thoroughly modern, progressive, a fine type of the school man of the twentieth century. He has under his jurisdiction all the schools of Franklin County except those of the independent District of Columbus. Altogether there are about 100 hundred schools and almost 400 teachers.

Doctor Cookson is a member of the Masonic Order, the Columbus Optimist Club, and for years has been active in church and particularly in Sunday school work. He has regarded the Sunday school as a sort of corollary to the secular school, and each Sunday he makes it a rule to attend as many Sunday schools as he can visit over the county.

Doctor Cookson was formerly assistant professor of English at Miami University Summer School, and for a number of years has been one of the most popular and forceful lecturers and institute instructors. He has been connected with a number of summer institutes and has also delivered some short addresses and lectures at educational gatherings and at chautauquas. His fame as a lecturer is appreciated in many Ohio communities and also in other states.

In closing this brief sketch something should be said of the notable occasion at Troy in June, 1919, when Doctor Cookson left that community to begin his new duties at Columbus. The occasion was a farewell service in his honor at the First Presbyterian Church, and, as described by the Troy Daily news, it was "such a demonstration as has never been witnessed in Troy before, testing the seating capacity of the church by those come to express by their presence, their sincere regret in losing such an efficient head of the schools and such a worthy citizen as Mr. Cookson." Rev. R.H. Dunaway, pastor of the church, presided, and one of the guests, H.C. Sellers, a boyhood friend of Mr. Cookson's, was present and told of his friend's exemplary boyhood life and his struggles for an education by working on the farm and in the coal mines. Other appreciative speeches were made by Leonard H. Shipman in behalf of the church; Vernon C. LeFevre, for the Masonic Order; Rev. Upton Thomas, who represented the Rotary Club; Warner Arnold, a graduate of the Troy High School, who paid the tribute in behalf of the colored people of the community; while Mrs. Hannah Gahagan delivered the tribute from the social leaders, Mayor Clay E. Harmon, the appreciation of the city officials; O.B. May, in behalf of the labor element; E. E. Edgar, for the manufacturers, and other speakers were B.E. Gibbs, J.C. Fullerton, Jr., William Babb, Mrs. Walter C. Pierce, Miss Rebecca Epply, Ivan Terrell and C.W. Walters.

 

History of Ohio, The American Historical Society, Inc., 1925, Volume III