Apple CEO Tim Cook is quietly celebrated in the small town of Robertsdale, Alabama, according to The Washington Post, which published a profile of Cook on Tuesday with lots of colour about where he grew up.
The basics: Cook was born in 1960 to a mother who worked at a town pharmacy and a father who worked at the shipyards in Mobile, Alabama. He has two brothers, both of whom still live in the South. Cook’s family apparently wasn’t rich, and couldn’t afford a new typewriter when he was growing up.
According to the Post, Cook was a stellar student in high school, a member of the National Honour Society, and went on to attend Auburn University in Alabama, which put him on a path to becoming CEO of Apple.
But Cook’s hometown doesn’t appear to publicize his accomplishments, and some believe it’s because its because of his advocacy for gay rights. Cook said he was “proud to be gay” in an editorial in 2014.
Robertsdale mayor Charles Murphy told the Post that “we have a lot of respect for him,” but others in the town are still uncomfortable with Cook’s politics. A local pastor even stopped using his iPad because of Cook’s stance. One of Cook’s early bosses said that he still objects to Cook’s stance on gay rights, even today.
But part of the lack of promotion might be related to Cook’s desire for privacy as well. When Cook’s mother died last year, the local paper didn’t run an obituary, and some speculated it was because of Cook’s aversion to publicity.
Although Cook these days attends conferences with billionaires and is engaged in a high-profile fight with the FBI over unlocking a terrorist’s iPhone, he’s still intensely private, so the profile is one of the best available looks at the early life of the CEO of the world’s most valuable company.
The profile also expands on an incident that Cook has brought up in speeches, in which he once stumbled upon a hate crime being committed by the KKK just outside Robertsdale in the ’70s.
“For me the cross burning was a symbol of ignorance, of hatred, and a fear of anyone different than the majority. I could never understand it, and I knew then that America’s and Alabama’s history would always be scarred by the hatred that it represented,” Cook said in 2013.
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