As we commemorate what would have been Ann’s 97th birthday on November 20, 2023, we are thankful for Gerber’s $10,000 contribution to our programs that champion the causes that were important to Ann, making the world a better place for babies and families.
In 1928, Gerber held a contest to find a face to represent their baby food advertising campaign. Ann Turner Cook’s portrait – with her tousled hair and bright eyes – was sketched and entered, and Gerber selected her to be their public face. Her portrait would become globally recognized.
Ann’s face went on to personify Gerber’s commitment to do anything and everything to keep babies healthy, happy and strong. Gerber’s mission directly aligns with ZERO TO THREE’s goal of ensuring all babies and toddlers have a strong start in life. Together, our unwavering support and shared missions help all infants and toddlers reach their full potential.
Upon Ann’s passing in 2022, her family continued her legacy by designating ZERO TO THREE for memorial contributions. Ann leaves a legacy of caring for and uplifting others; values we hold so near to our hearts as well.
Despite her early celebrity, Ann most wanted to be remembered for her 27-year career as an inspiring, creative English teacher. – Jan Cook
Ann’s daughter was kind enough to share the lovely obituary she wrote for her mother. Below is an excerpt:
Ann Turner Cook, who died at 95 on June 3, in St. Petersburg, FL, achieved lasting fame very early in life. A charcoal sketch of her cherubic face, made in 1927, is the official Gerber trademark for its baby products, making her arguably the world’s most recognizable baby.
Ann enjoyed being the Gerber icon, but gave credit to the artist, Dorothy Hope Smith, for capturing the universal appeal of babies. Despite her early celebrity, Ann most wanted to be remembered for her 27-year career as an inspiring, creative English teacher. At Hillsborough High School in Tampa, she incorporated Simon and Garfunkel songs into the study of poetry, had students create their own circle of Hell after reading Dante’s Inferno, and made Shakespeare come alive for generations of students. For years after she retired in 1989, former students would post on her Facebook page and write her thank-you letters.
Ann was born in 1926 in Westport, Connecticut, to Bethel and Leslie Turner, a well-known magazine illustrator. With the onset of the Depression, the family moved to Colorado, to homestead on a sheep ranch.
Hers was the original ‘free-range’ childhood. Beginning at age 5, she and her six-year-old sister, Joy, would spend the day on horseback, even, on occasion, herding cattle at her grandparents’ ranch in Texas.
By 1934, the family moved to Manhattan, where Ann and Joy explored the city on their roller skates. The family later settled in Orlando, and her father created the syndicated comic strip Captain Easy.
Ann graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1947 and married James Cook, a World War II Navy veteran, who would later become a major in the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. They raised four children in a loving household filled with laughter, animals, and a deep commitment to social justice issues. The family moved to Tampa in 1967, when Ann began teaching at Hillsborough High School, simultaneously earning a Masters in English Education from the University of South Florida. After retiring, Ann published four mystery novels set in small Florida towns and was an active member of Mystery Writers of America and the Tampa Writers Alliance. After 57 years of marriage, Ann was widowed in 2004.
Ann was a devoted and endlessly patient mother, grand- and great-grandmother. She read voraciously — from English medieval history to astrophysics. She moved to Westminster Palms in St. Petersburg in 2019.
The family would welcome memorial donations to ZERO TO THREE, an organization that supports babies and parents.