By Brandi Smith
LANE COUNTY, Ore. — The peace keeper. The rock. The trailblazer. Dan Cook’s closest friends have a lot of words they can use to describe him. What they can’t seem to put into words is the impact he had on their lives.
“He’s been an amazing inspiration to a lot of people,” says Bill Sullivan, a longtime friend.
He founded the Imperial Sovereign Court of the Emerald Empire — the oldest LGBT group in Lane County — 35 years ago. He might be most recognizable — in drag — as “Mama Cherrisse” at ISCEE events like “Damsels, Divas and Dames.” Money raised from those events is donated to local non-profit groups, including HIV Alliance, WomenSpace and Centro Latino Americano.
“[ISCEE] is responsible for donating over $100,000 in the past 35 years,” says last year’s ISCEE Emporer Don Prentice. “It’s all because of this one person saying, ‘In Eugene, we can do this.'”
Cook also helped out with the Senior Companion Program of Lane County, volunteering right up until Dec. 16, the day he went into the hospital.