Hey, Santa Rosan — What school did you go to?

If it was Lincoln Elementary, or Rincon Valley Middle, or Santa Rosa High, you probably never wondered how your school got its name.

But what about Slater, Comstock or Carrillo? Who was that guy Lawrence Cook, and why does he have a middle school named after him?

Let’s start there, with Mr. Cook. A call to the school generates a few answers: “Good question!” “I’ll have to do a little research on that.” “We know he was an educator in this area.” And finally, “You might want to try the public library.”

And the Sonoma County Library’s research department delivers. “Larry” Cook was a popular teacher, counselor and administrator in Santa Rosa schools during the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s. The 1951 yearbook of Santa Rosa Junior High, where he served as principal, describes him in detail: “…handles his job with ease…kind and reassuring…understands students and their problems…has a very extensive vocabulary and good speaking voice…has a keen sense of humor…tall and dark…often wears a good-luck bow tie…” He was principal of Slater Junior High when he died in 1957 at age 49.

Other Santa Rosa schools also are named for local historical figures. And, like Mr. Cook, some remain obscure even to those who once wandered the halls of buildings named for these luminaries. So, let’s review: