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CHARLESTON — Director of the West Virginia Division of Forestry and Williamson native Barry Cook died Saturday, May 9, in what Gov. Jim Justice said was a “terrible accident.”

Justice announced Cook’s death in his press conference Tuesday, May 12, and said that “he (Cook) gave so much and gave so much incredible expertise to many, way beyond just forestry. A really good man.”

Cook, who died at the age of 70 just one day before his 71st birthday, grew up in Williamson and graduated from Williamson High School in 1967, according to a funeral home obituary.

He earned his bachelor of science degree in forest management from West Virginia University in 1971 and obtained his master of business administration degree from Duke University in 1994.

He was a seasoned forester of 45 plus years and also a veteran of the military.

Justice did not release any additional details during his press conference, and no cause of death was announced.

Jarrid McCormick is a reporter for the Williamson Daily News. He can be reached by email at