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John W. Cobb, Jr. 1965

I grew up in Bethesda Chevy Chase, Maryland, and graduated with a D+ average from BCC High School. I moved with my family to Evanston, Illinois, where I attended Morgan Park Academy, where I learned how to study and graduated with a 3.4-grade point average. After graduating from Central, I completed my education at the University of Iowa.

My memories from my years as a student at Central include: Helping to form the Phi Delta Tau fraternity and learning business under Professor Don Butler and life’s meaning under Dean James Graham. From Dr. Graham, I also learned good English, writing and communication skills. He was instrumental in helping me at Central and gave me the encouragement to go on and get a master’s degree from the University of Iowa.

By the age of 28, I was senior vice president and general manager of four divisions of Bell and Howell Companies in Chicago, Illinois. I then served as senior vice president of marketing at CBS in New York City before moving on to McGraw-Hill Company in New York City and Washington, D.C., where I spent 18 years creating and selling education books–rather ironic for a chap that had a D+ average in high school and hated education. After a stint at the University of Maryland University College as vice president of marketing for seven educational units selling education to the military and civilians, I headed up the marketing department at the National Wildlife Federation in Reston, Virginia. I ended my 38-year career selling education for Keystone High School, an internet and in-classroom delivery of education.

I am the father of two children and grandfather of four. John III is 51 and is CEO of Giant Media, an internet advertising firm based in Kansas City with offices in California, New York, Florida, and Chicago. He was President of Peterson Publishing and started many auto, trucking, hunting, fishing magazines for them over his 20 years with them. He has two children Kelly is a high school freshman and John IV is just entering his senior year in high school and in August he became an Eagle Scout.

My Daughter Kristin is 48 and worked for Oracle Business Software Company as a salesperson. In 2005 she was named salesperson of the year (WORLDWIDE) for Oracle and got a $1,000,000 bonus tax paid. She is now retired and lives with her husband who is the head of Polaris Venture Capital Group in Boston. She has two boys attending The Governor’s Academy in Massachusetts.

Now I consider myself a tree farmer enjoying life in West Virginia. The highest point on my property is a mountaintop I like to call “Cobb’s Knob” at 1,725 feet above sea level. My family calls this land “Grandpa’s Forest.” When I first bought this land back in 2006, no one had lived there for decades. Parts of it were overrun by invasive plants, and there were hardly any breaks in the forest canopy. I decided to make a few changes, which I started in 2009 and it’s still a work in progress. I just planted 91 Black Walnut trees around my new field. I am currently reading and recommend 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus by Charles C. Mann.

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  • Ariadne Henry '87


    6:04 pm on November 15, 2018

    Wow! Another alum from the DC area (I grew up in NW). Who knew?!
    A very nice article, and a very full life.

  • Richard Lindaman


    8:18 am on October 17, 2018

    I found it very interesting to hear from several Phi Delts after more than 50 years. Being in the first pledge class, I have many memories of the Phi Delts and the beginning years of the fraternity. Central college has always brought fond memories to me. The beanies and the name cards will always remain in my mind. I have been a teacher and coach in Humboldt Iowa most of my life, inspired by Harriet Huesenveld.. I still substitute a couple days a week and have enjoyed getting back to Pella numerous times over the years as two of my children attended Central. Best wishes to all. Rich Lindaman class of 1964

  • larry embling


    8:17 am on October 10, 2018

    John Cobb…a face from the past…. good to hear about life after Central…. As one of the founding fathers I revered his name…. I was in the class of 68 with Ashby, VanderWerf, Orr, and Wolbrink and maybe one or two others, can’t remember. Sounds like he has had a fulfilling life up til now and are not letting any grass grow under his feet. I just attended our 50th reunion and what great changes have occurred at CUI although the Phi Delt house is no longer as I am sure you know. Alumni weekend was great and I am truly glad that I had the chance to attend and rub shoulders with fellow students like you and professors like Butler, Glendenning, Willis, and many more. I think this is typical of a lot of CUI grads…. Retirement is not a goal…. living is…and as long as we are living and learning, we continue to grow. Great to be a part of the Central Family

  • Arlyn Grussing


    1:17 pm on October 9, 2018

    Great to hear about your post Phi Delta Tau days. After a productive career you morphed into a tree farmer. Very happy to know what happened to one of the brothers, It would be great to have a get together to find out about the whole gang. Looks like you are now wearing shoes as I was blown away that frequently were barefoot.

    I had a long career in city planning and have now graduated into playing Santa Claus. Last year i received my PhD in Santaclausology and I wrote a children’s book entitled Santa’s Magic Christmas.

    Great to hear from you.

  • Betty Kooy


    10:42 am on October 9, 2018

    Great story and great accomplishments! Congrats to 1965 classmate John Cobb!