Goldman Pioneer, Steinhardt Partner Cook Dies

Oct 7 2013 | 8:58am ET

Karen Strauss Cook, Goldman Sachs' first female trader and a longtime partner of hedge-fund pioneer Michael Steinhardt, has died.

Cook had suffered from progressive supranuclear palsy, a neurodegenerative brain disease, since 2008. She died at her Manhattan home last week, at the age of 61.

Cook was the first woman hired by Goldman Sachs' equity division, after catching the eye of the firm's then-general partner, future U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. She left the firm a dozen years later, in 1987, to spend more time with her young sons, and then founded Alterna-track, an executive placement firm that sought to place women raising families in part-time financial positions. In 1994, she joined hedge fund Steinhardt Partners as head of investor relations and helped oversee its closure the following year and the transition to Steinhardt Management, where she served as chief investment officer until her retirement in 2008.

Steinhardt credited Cook with all-but-forcing him to write his 2001 memoir, No Bull, saying that "in addition to keeping a keen eye on my investments," she "managed to harass, cajole, humor and in general intimidate me into writing it."

Cook turned down an opportunity to get her MBA at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School to join Goldman. She later got the degree from New York University, and frequently took a co-worker, Perry Capital founder Richard Perry, along with her.

"She was an inspiration, a role model and a great friend," Perry told Bloomberg News. "She will be terribly missed by all who knew her."

A memorial service for Cook was held yesterday in Manhattan, and she will be honored by 100 Women in Hedge Funds, of which she was an early backer, next month. Her husband, Everett Cook, co-founder of private-equity firm Pouschine Cook Capital Management, will accept it on her behalf.

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