BY DAVE HURLEY
ATWATER – They say only the good die young, and the northern California fishing community lost a young man who has inspired many by his dedication, devotion, patience, and willingness to serve others. Ryan Cook of Ryan Cook’s Fishing passed away from organ failure on December 28 after a brief and unexpected hospitalization. Cook leaves behind his wife, Diana, parents Gary and Karen, and thousands of close friends and acquaintances throughout the Central Valley. I have been fortunate to write many stories of the good works of Cook over the years, most recently, his development of the 3rd Annual Ed Lacy Memorial Tournament at Lake McClure which attracted 60 boats with all proceeds donated to the Reel Warriors Foundation, a veteran’s fishing group.
Although I have never met Ryan in person, we spoke on a weekly basis over the past few years, and I was always impressed with his devotion to his wife and parents along with his desire to help others. When his wife suffered a heart attack on Christmas Day 2022, Cook was there every moment during her long and trying recovery from being without oxygen to the brain for several minutes. I spoke with Ryan during this time while he was staying in Bakersfield adjacent to Diana’s rehabilitation facility, and I expressed how much respect I had for his presence during this difficult time. His response was, “She is my world, and I am going to be here as long as it takes.” When I heard the news on Friday morning of his passing, it hit hard, and I, like many others, are still trying to process his loss.
Ryan always seemed to lend a hand to others whether it was taking cancer survivor, young Mason Ferrulli and his father, Kyle, fishing; organizing a fundraiser for Mason; bringing joy to developmentally disabled adult, Cory ‘Catch ‘Em Quick’ Griffith, setting up a youth fishing day for special needs; helping with the Gold Country Jr. Bass Circuit or San Joaquin BassMasters; arriving with Diana to act as weighmasters at bass tournaments; or taking adults out for their best day of fishing; Cook lived in the present. He touched lives, and anyone who came within his touch, came out a better person.
Perhaps Ryan’s purpose it is best captured by the words of his devoted wife, Diana – “Remember that the time you have is not in our control, say the words you would wish you could go back and say, show that love every single day. I am so grateful that Ryan and I did these things every single day as well.” A Go Fund Me account has been established for the family at https://gofund.me/7ff662b7.