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In Memoriam: Peggy Ann Cook

By H. Allen Benowitz

Peggy Ann Cook, a court reporter contemporary, passed away, and South Florida and the national reporting profession have just lost one of their very significant, albeit lesser known, citizens. Ms. Cook provided a major contribution to the court reporting and legal professions.

She worked with me at the office of Jack Mallicoat, official reporter of the 11th Judicial Circuit in Miami, when I arrived in 1961 from New York City. There we worked together with a dozen or so other fine court reporters. Jack’s office set the standard for quality within the profession in South Florida and nationally.

Peggy was well known and highly regarded by the South Florida legal profession and should be recognized for her contributions and qualifications.

From Stickney, Ill., she passed her senior state aptitude test with flying colors. Because of her manual dexterity and grade point average, her guidance counselor encouraged her to enter the field of court reporting, which resulted in a brilliant career being recognized among the outstanding court reporters in the United States. With $200 she bought a one-way ticket to Chicago, where she enrolled in Northwestern University’s court reporting program while working her way through school as a waitress. She completed her college program in nine months, graduating at the age of 18. In 1958 she relocated from Chicago, Ill., to Miami and lived in Coconut Grove.

As a wet-behind-the-ears young reporter with naturally speedy fingers, I soon learned there was much more to learn in comprehending technical jargon in preparing verbatim court and deposition transcripts. Peggy was among my early mentors at Jack’s office, never hesitating to answer my many questions when taking and preparing transcripts in medical malpractice, aviation, maritime, and other technical and expert witness depositions and court testimony.

A number of court reporters from the Jack Mallicoat firm worked on cases of international fame. The most famous of which we worked on together was the Candy Mosler murder which attracted press from around the world! Peggy reported the majority of the case.

I left Mr. Mallicoat’s office to strike out on my own in 1969, in the late ‘70s. Peggy opened her own firm; Peggy Ann Cook & Associates, as well.

Peggy had a fine reputation for personally handling and producing high-quality transcripts for our legal community. Thus, whenever I was busy to the extent I needed additional coverage, I would proudly call upon her office to cover assignments on behalf of my clients, and likewise, she would call mine.

After expanding my company and creating the Florida division as part of the national firm of Veritext Legal Solutions as Veritext of Florida, I recruited Peggy’s firm along with two others. Thanks to Peggy’s participation and contributions, the Florida division helped Veritext to become the largest court reporting legal solutions company in the world.

Peggy earned the National Shorthand Reporters Certificate of Merit, which qualified her to perform extraordinary litigation cases, which she performed as a manual shorthand writer, and which tested for accuracy at the dictation speed of 260 words per minute.

In addition to her many interests, including ballet, sailing, growing orchids, and traveling, Peggy was a champion Arabian horse rider and had also competed in ballroom dancing and sailboat racing, leading a full life.

Peggy’s best friends included her brothers and sisters: Betty, Donna, Sonja, Linda, Garry, and Lyle Crispin.

My condolences to Peggy’s family for their loss. May she rest in peace.

H. Allen Benowitz of Miami, Fla., is a retired court reporter. He can be reached via email at