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Alabama paper AL.com on Monday published a profile of Apple CEO Tim Cook, offering a peek into the chief executive's formative days in Robertsdale through interviews with teachers, friends and his parents.
As Cook demurs when it comes to his private life — much like late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs — the AL.com feature presents a rarely seen backdrop to the executive's well-documented tenures at IBM, Intelligent Electronics, Compaq and Apple.
In 1971, Cook's parents Geraldine and Don moved their family of five to Robertsdale, Alabama, a small farming town in Baldwin County. When he moved in at age 11, Cook added to the roughly 2,300 people who called Robertsdale home.
The 53-year-old Apple exec is the middle of three brothers who took three relatively different paths after high school. The eldest, Gerald, 56, worked for the IRS before becoming an analyst at a private company in North Carolina, while the youngest, Michael, 47, went straight to the Air Force and now works in the maritime industry like his father.
Throughout the article, Cook is described by those who knew him as a diligent, hard-working student. Not to be called a "nerd," he excelled in school and one former teacher called him "the kind of person you liked to be around."
Cook's amiable demeanor is a recurring theme throughout the article, as echoed by classmate Teresa Prochaska Huntsman, the one person who achieved higher marks than the Apple head in high school.
"He wasn't one-dimensional," Huntsman said. "I didn't know anybody who didn't like him. He had a great personality."
After high school, Cook chose to attend Auburn University over Alabama for his secondary education, something he had planned to do since the seventh grade, his mother said. Cook went on to earn his master's degree from Duke while working at IBM, then on to Intelligent Electronics and Compaq before landing at Apple in 1998.