Community Education

Roy Lee Cooke
roy lee cooke

Born on Christmas Day 1941 in Coalwood, West Virginia, to Carrie Austin and W.C. Cooke. His father worked all his adult life in the coal mine at Coalwood, and died at the age of 45, when Roy Lee was only 13. His mother went to work in the school cafeteria to support the two of them.

He was a founding member of the Big Creek Missile Association and was to become one of the original Rocket Boys. He was a running back on the football team when he was a Junior and Senior in high school. He was active in a variety of clubs in high school and was named best Thespian in his Senior year.

He began his college career at Concord College in Athens, West Virginia and finished at the University of Maryland. He is also a graduate of the American Institute of Banking in Washington, D.C.

He retired from banking after 25 years and has been President of Carolina Domestic Coal since 1986. He co-founded Cooke & Moses to provide capital to start up and expand companies in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and South Carolina. Cooke & Moses own New Horizons Computer Learning Centers in South Carolina and California, part of the largest company of its kind in the world. He has taken that computer learning technology to Barbour County, West Virginia where he operates out of a B college at the Mollohan Training Center. Plans are to bring several other companies to North Central, West Virginia in the year 2005.

Roy Lee maintains a wide range of civic and business interests in the Appalachian area, including support of the West Virginia Access Center for Higher Education. He was key note speaker at the West Virginia Small Business Administration and Appalachian College Association. He also speaks at colleges, chambers of commerce and other organizations throughout the country.

Roy Lee was a subject of three of Homer Hickam's books, "Rocket Boys", "A Coalwood Way" and "We Are Not Afraid". He was also a contributor of an article in "We Are Not Afraid". In 1999 he was named an inductee in the Young Inventors Hall of Fame and was awarded the Honor of Distinguished West Virginian by the Governor. In May of 2004, he was appointed a member of the 35th Star, a prestigious honor bestowed by the Secretary of State of West Virginia. Recently, the Governor of Kentucky named him an Honorary Kentucky Colonel. 

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