Virginia “Ginny” O’Rourke Cookson, owner and president of O’Rourke & Birch Florist Inc. in Waterbury, has been named the Waterbury Regional Chamber’s highly-prestigious 2013 Volunteer of the Year for her generous contributions to the organization through several decades. O’Rourke Cookson will receive her award during the Waterbury Regional Chamber’s 19th Annual Malcolm Baldrige Chamber Awards banquet Wednesday, October 2 at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville. O’Rourke & Birch Florist Inc. is this year’s bronze sponsor of the banquet.

Waterbury Regional Chamber President and CEO Lynn Ward recently stated, “Each year we present the highly-prestigious Malcolm Baldrige Community Award in honor of an area business leader, and this year we are presenting this award to Gary O’Connor, Esq. partner with Pullman & Comley, LLC in Waterbury. This award is presented in recognition of individuals whose commitment to the Waterbury community has been exemplified by their vision and leadership in the area of economic development and growth. Malcolm Baldrige believed in community, leadership and volunteerism, and that is why we will also present our Chamber’s prestigious 2013 Leadership Award to Jack Traver, Jr. of Traver IDC, and our notable 2013 Volunteer of The Year Award to Virginia O’Rourke Cookson. These Chamber awards are presented in recognition of individuals who exemplify the globally-recognized and honored worldwide achievements of business and community leader Malcolm Baldrige.”

Widely-known as a “Waterbury institution”, in 2013 O’Rourke & Birch is celebrating their 90th year of entrepreneurial success as Waterbury’s only family-founded and continuously-family-owned floral business. In 2013, O’Rourke Cookson announced that O’Rourke & Birch Florist also received nationally-prestigious recognition as an elite, top-quality FTD Master Florist, making it one of only eight florists in Connecticut to receive this unique distinction. Also in 2013, the company accomplished the notable status of being a nationally-recognized Vera Wang Wedding floral designer. 

O’Rourke & Birch Florist began as a small shop in Waterbury’s North Square at 417 North Main Street. The company was created by O’Rourke Cookson’s father, John O’Rourke, and her aunt, Marie (O’Rourke) Birch, in 1922 when Marie was just a teenager. O’Rourke Cookson purchased the business from them in 1969. As with most businesses 90 years in duration, the business grew and prospered with thriving shops in Waterbury, Middlebury, Wolcott and Southbury, and today it is consolidated into their 170 Freight Street headquarters in Waterbury.

Like her aunt, O’Rourke Cookson “grew up in this business” by beginning her floral career after graduating from college and then a floral design school. From her family, she inherited a very strong sense of community and charity, and today she is highly-respected and widely-recognized throughout the area as a notably successful contributor to many local and national organizations.

O’Rourke Cookson is a member of the national Society of American Florists, Connecticut Florists Association (CFA), FTD-Florist Transworld Delivery, Teleflora Inc., and Flower Shop Network. She is a long-standing member of the Waterbury Regional Chamber of Commerce, a previous Chamber Ambassador, member of the board of directors of the Greater Waterbury Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Business Women’s Forum (BWF) and St. Mary’s Hospital Auxiliary. She is recipient of numerous community and leadership awards including the 2000 Waterbury Regional Chamber Business Woman of the Year Award.

Daughter of one of the first charter members of the Waterbury Exchange Club, O’Rourke Cookson joined the organization in 1994 and was named Exchangite of the Year in 2004 and “Mayor For The Day”. Currently, she is president of the Club and chair of the organization’s Membership Committee. She has also been a long-standing member of the Exchange Club of Waterbury’s charitable foundation and chairs their Annual Wine & Beer Tasting event which raises funds for Child Abuse Prevention programs. O’Rourke Cookson is also an active member of the Profnet networking organization in Waterbury.

Virginia O’Rourke Cookson is a licensed Justice of the Peace. She is mother to John Edward Cookson, mother-in-law to Marta Cookson and grandmother to their son Hunter Alan Cookson of Rockville, Maryland; and mother to Marci Cookson, PA-C of Cheshire, Connecticut.

Well-known to often suggest “Say it with flowers”, Virginia O’Rourke Cookson and O’Rourke & Birch Florist Inc. can be contacted at 203-756-7857. For more information, visit