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Obituary (MO): James Henry Cooper '51

Posted on 04/25/2018

James Henry (Harry) Cooper, son of J. H. G. and Mildred Cooper, was born in Springfield, Missouri on December 18, 1926, and passed away April 22, 2018 at the age of 91. Mr. Cooper attended grade school and two years at Greenwood High School in Springfield, then completed high school and graduated from Shattuck School in Faribault, Minnesota. After graduation from High School he received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1951, and served on the USS Waldron until being accepted for flight training at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida. He completed flight training and served as a naval aviator from 1953 until his discharge from the Navy in 1956.

After leaving the military, he returned to Springfield and joined his father and his brother in the family's business interests, including Harry Cooper Supply Company, Independent Broadcasting Company (KOLR 10) and the Springfield Flying Service as well as several other privately held businesses. The family sold its interest in KOLR in 1998, and over the past few years, Harry gradually turned day to day operation of the family businesses over to his nephew, John T. Cooper. At the time of his death he still served as Chairman of the Board of the family businesses and served as a member of the Boys and Girls Clubs Trust Fund and Advisory Board.

The Cooper family has been interested in amateur athletics for many years and has made significant contributions to Springfield soccer and tennis programs for all ages. Harry has been interested in the advancement of programs including the Lakes Country Youth Soccer program and the college soccer programs at both Missouri State University and Drury. In addition, he and his nephew, John T. Cooper, were involved in the addition of the Springfield Lasers professional tennis team to the Springfield landscape. The most notable of the family's many contributions to local youth sports was the donation of land subsequently designated as the Cooper Park which is now home to one of the nation's premier tennis, soccer and youth baseball complexes, much of which has been provided through the Cooper Foundation.

In addition to amateur athletics, Harry retained his love of aviation throughout his life. He began flying at age sixteen and flew up until his death. In addition to his three years as a naval aviator and many years in general aviation, Harry was also an avid aerobatic pilot, flying competitive aerobatics until just a few years ago. At the time of his death he was a member of several aviation organizations including the Quiet Birdmen and the Airplane Owners and Pilots Association; and he was making plans to fly his T-34 military trainer with Bill Johnmeyer, a close personal friend and the former manager of the Springfield Flying Service.

In addition to the Boys Club Trust Fund, Harry has been active in a variety of other charitable and civic organizations as well as industry associations relating to the family's business interests. Early in his career he also served on the Board of Directors for Cox Hospital and Union National Bank (currently known as Bank of America). He also was member of Hickory Hills Country Club where his father was a founding member.

Mr. Cooper was preceded in death by his parents, J. H. G. and Mildred Cooper, his brother, John O. Cooper, and his son Mark Christian Cooper. He is survived by his wife, Birgitta, of the home; his step-son, Michael Ahlefeldt-Laurvig, of Kinnared, Sweden; two granddaughters Rebecca Norden, of Spargodt, Sweden and Felicia Ahlefeldt-Laurvig, of Stockholm, Sweden; four great grandchildren who also reside in Sweden; his niece, Allison, her husband Chepe, and her children, Hillary and Clarity Elise; his nephew, John and his wife Mary and their children, Adam and Brooklyn, of Springfield; his dear friend Jan Stahle and his wife Pam, of Springfield, and countless friends and business associates.

Visitation will be held Thursday evening from 4 to 7 p.m. at Gorman-Scharpf Funeral Home, 1947 E. Seminole, Springfield. A private graveside service for family will be held Friday at Hazelwood Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Boys and Girls Clubs of Springfield or the charity of the donor's choice.

Published in the News-Leader from Apr. 25 to Apr. 29, 2018