Charlotte Smallwood-Cook '46 was the first woman to hold the office of district attorney in the state of New York. She passed away on January 26, 2013, at the age of 90.
Smallwood-Cook was born in Union Springs, N.Y., in 1923. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in 1944, and attended Cornell Law School for one year before transferring to Columbia Law School, where she earned a J.D. in 1946.
After graduation, Smallwood-Cook moved to Warsaw, N.Y., to open a law practice with her husband, Edward “Ned” Smallwood. Three years later, at the age of 26, she decided to run for district attorney in Wyoming County. After winning the Republican nomination, Smallwood-Cook defeated her Democratic opponent by earning 65 percent of the vote and was sworn-in as New York’s first female district attorney on December 31, 1949. During her tenure, she prosecuted a variety of criminal cases and successfully argued Wyoming County’s first capital murder case in 40 years.
Smallwood-Cook served one three-year term as district attorney before returning to private practice in 1952. She then spent the next six decades as a solo practitioner. During her professional career, Smallwood-Cook served as chairwoman of the Wyoming County Republican Committee and received the New York State District Attorneys Association’s lifetime achievement award. She retired in 2012.
Smallwood-Cook was predeceased by her first husband, Ned Smallwood, as well as her second husband, Frederick S. Cook. She is survived by her daughter, Susan V. Grossman; her son, Edward C. Smallwood; her stepdaughters, Cheryl Kelly, Suzanne Guesno, and Jane Garret; and her stepson, John Cook.