Member of 'Never Missed a Super Bowl' club passes away

MILWAUKEE -- One of the men featured in a Visa credit-card television commercial for having never missed a Super Bowl has died. He was 79.

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

Cook, whose obituary ends with "GO PACK GO," died last week after a blood infection and other chronic issues, including congestive heart failure, his wife, Sarah Cook, said Monday.

She said they had their bags packed and were ready to go to Texas, 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 told The Associated Press before the Packers' win over the Bears in the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 23. "I'd rather watch football than any other sport."

The Brown Deer, Wis., man 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 the Visa ad leading up to the Super Bowl.

Tom 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 went 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 had to go to a few Super Bowl cities without tickets but always got lucky when he made it there. One year, someone gave him tickets for free, but another time, he had to sell off some of his jazz-record collection to land a seat.

As for how much money he spent on going to each game, Cook said he didn'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 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, 60, 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."

A reception was scheduled for Tuesday night for family and friends.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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