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Couple’s lives parallel Neil Armstrong’s

September 2, 2012
By KATIE SCHWENDEMAN - Staff Writer ( , Morning Journal News

LISBON - Pauline Armstrong Cook was celebrating her birthday when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Like most people around the world she and her husband Wilbur Cook watched the lunar landing on television.

"I thought it was, to use a Mary Poppins term, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," Wilbur Cook said. Born in 1925 and a graduate of Lisbon High School, Cook has seen the world go from relying on horses for transportation to cars and airplanes, and even the introduction of electricity in some areas.

To those who believed the July 20, 1969 lunar landing to be a hoax, he says, "We saw it. We have the ability."

Although not related to the man known around the world for taking the first steps on the moon, Pauline and Wilbur Cook's lives have crossed paths with his in some ways.

Wilbur Cook was five years old and living on St. Jacobs Logtown Road when Neil Armstrong was born on Aug. 5, 1930 in Wapakoneta on the northwest part of the state. He later heard about how Neil's father, Stephen Armstrong, was working in Lisbon as a state auditor at the time.

Wilbur Cook said when he and Pauline moved to Wapakoneta 10 years ago they visited a local museum and were given a document of the Armstrong genealogy to see if they were related, which they weren't.

Local residents later told them the story of what the lunar landing was like in that area.

"Locally, the story is the pastor of the St. Paul's United Church of Christ was at the Armstrong home when he was about to land on the moon, and they had a prayer vigil," he said.

Before settling with his wife in the city near the Indiana border he taught history for a school in Bellevue, near Cleveland. While teaching he would recall his days of growing up in Columbiana County.

"Some of my former students have contacted me over the years (about) how I used to brag about Columbiana County. It was a way to spark their interest or make them groan, but they'd still listen," he said.

He and Pauline Armstrong met when they were attending high school in Lisbon.

"I sat behind her in class and ran the projector, and she would lean her head back so I'd pull on her hair. That's my line, and I'm sticking with it," he joked.

The two were the only ones to marry in their class, he said.

A 65th reunion was held in 2008. Over the years Wilbur Cook has authored several books about their lives, and some are available in the Lepper Library in Lisbon.

He has also authored books about his 55 years as an ordained minister for the Church of Christ. He is a founding member of the Lyme Church in Bellevue.

"The churches were small and to preserve the church we started preserving the history of the church," he said. The church claims the oldest Sunday school in the state with a continuous organization.

"The community just started to support and continues. We left there in 1980, and I'm real proud of what they have continued to do," he said.

He has also written about his time in the military serving with the 5th Armored Division. He was later appointed secretary of the division's association and responsible for its publications. He said that at one time he also worked for a coal mine in Elkton and Firestone Farms in Columbiana.



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