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02/15/2011

Bob Cook, member of 'Never Missed a Super Bowl' club, dies at 79

February 15, 2011 |  9:47 am

Cook Bob Cook, a Wisconsin man featured in a Visa credit card television commercial for having never missed a Super Bowl, has died. He was 79.

Cook had been to 44 straight Super Bowls but couldn't make it to Texas to watch his beloved Green Bay Packers defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers on Feb. 6. Instead, he viewed the game from his hospital bed with his wife, who decorated his room with green and gold lights.

Cook, a resident of Brown Deer, Wis., died Feb. 10 after being hospitalized in Milwaukee with a blood infection and other chronic issues, including congestive heart failure, said his wife, Sarah Cook.

She said they had their bags packed and were ready to go, but Bob Cook told his wife three days before the game that he was too ill to travel to the game.

"I'm just a die-hard Packer fan," he said before the Packers' victory over the Chicago Bears in the NFC championship game on Jan. 23. "I'd rather watch football than any other sport."

Cook and the three other members of the "Never Missed a Super Bowl" club — Thomas Henschel of Tampa, Fla.; Larry Jacobson of San Francisco and Don Crisman of Kennebunk, Maine — were the stars of a Visa ad leading up to the Super Bowl.

Henschel, 69, said Cook was the last to join the group, during the 36th Super Bowl. Henschel had met Crisman and another man who also had been to every Super Bowl around the 17th Super Bowl.

Henschel, a Steelers fan, said Cook's two daughters went to the game in his place.

"It was kind of strange," he said. "Here's his team playing against my team. I thought we'd have a little fun. Maybe put a little wager on the game."

Cook was the former owner of Bob Cook's Vagabond Travel Service and started going to Super Bowls while working there. When asked in January why he goes to every Super Bowl he said: "I don't like the season to end."

"When football's over I wait for the preseason," he said. "No, I wait for the draft. Then the preseason. Then the season. Then the postseason. I worked hard not to let it end."

Cook said it was relatively easy to get tickets for the first few Super Bowls. He said he even went to a few Super Bowl cities without tickets but always got lucky when he got there. One year someone gave him tickets for free but another year he had to sell off some of his jazz record collection to pay for a ticket.

As for how much money he spent on going to each game — Cook said he doesn't know.

"I probably could have bought a better house or put a couple new cars in the garage," he said in January. "It's all worth it and I'm very happy with my household and the way it is."

Cook has said the 31st Super Bowl was his favorite, when the Packers beat the New England Patriots in New Orleans. And he had hoped he would make it to the 50th Super Bowl.

Sarah Cook said her husband of 28 years enjoyed doing the commercial this summer and all the attention since then.

"He had so much fun with this," she said. "The last couple months of his life were truly enjoyable."

-- Associated Press

Photo: Bob Cook shows some of his Super Bowl ticket stubs in January. Credit: Associated Press

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