FORT BELKNAP Gerald "Cooper" Healy III, 16, died of injuries sustained in an automobile crash Friday, March 22, at The Billings Clinic.
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A wake begins at 7 p.m. today at Red Whip Gymnasium in Fort Belknap, with funeral services following at 11:21 a.m. Wednesday at the gymnasium. Kirkwood Funeral Home in Malta handled arrangements.
Cooper was born to Gerald "Manny" and Rochelle (King) Healy on Jan. 27, 1997, in Havre. He attended Harlem High School, where he was in the 10th grade.
He is survived by his parents, his sister Carlee, brothers Rope & Tygh Healy, adopted brother Andrew Cole, and half-sister, Michelle E. (Jeremy Tincher) Healy; grandparents Rebecca "Bea" (James Clark) Kill Eagle, Robert "Kim" (Christine) King, Robert (Diane) Healy, Donna Fisher; great-grandmother Sarah Kill Eagle; and great-grandfather Robert "Bobby" King, Sr.; and special uncle Roger "Spike" Guardipee; Uncles: Ketsey Healy, Benny Bell, Jerome (Des) Bell, Richard (Martha) King, Mitchell (Tracy) King, Harvey (Avis) King, Tracy Ching (Anna) King, Keester (Tammy) King, Brent (Holly) King, Wesley (Iris) Kill Eagle Sr., John Kill Eagle, Joe (Valerie) Kill Eagle, Milton (Zoni) Healy, Mike Messerly, Dean (Monie) Messerly, Dave (Bobbie) Heppner, Leon Messerly, Doug (Roberta) Johnson, Allen Fisher, and Shawn Fisher; Aunts: Roberta King, Randi Cole, Debra (Justin) Kill Eagle, Frances (Milton) Werk, Beverly Brown, Linda Bell, Cathy (Roland) Plain Feather, Belva Bell, Janice (Victor) Singer, Julie (Charlie) Kulbeck, Judy (Pete) King, June (Donovan) Bull-In-Sight, Audrey Healy, Shelley Healy, Shirley Healy, Shirley (Jim) Bell, Glenda Messerly, Roberta Messerly, Barbara (Bobby) Ball, Leona (Buzz) Messerly, AlphaDeane (Joe) Ironman, and Melissa Fisher ; and many cousins and friends. If we have missed anyone, it was not intentional.
He is preceded in death by his grandfather Gerald "Pops" Healy I, great-grandfather Leslie Kill Eagle, great-grandmother Mona King, and adopted brother, Cyrus Cole.
Cooper was just a strong-minded, determined boy since the day he was born. He always strived to do the best and the best is what he wanted for himself; when he first learned to walk, he didn't practice; he just stood up and started walking and never stopped. Cooper had such a kind heart and helped all those in need. He always helped the kids from being bullied. He stood up for those kinds who couldn't stand up for themselves. Cooper was a TRUE COWBOY. He was spinning a rope before he was a year old and went on to win many different roping events. "Cooper was born a "lefty", but his dad wanted him to be a roper, so he trained his boy to use his right hand. And if that lil' boy didn't train himself to be right-handed... he grew into a talented roper; that boy was…" He worked along his dad ranching since he was four years old. He rode on his own horse along side of his dad. He learned his dad's trade and always was there for his neighbors. When Cooper was six years old, his rodeo career began. He roped a dummy and never quit. He wanted more, so he bailed on his horse straight to the arena. That began his rodeo cowboy way of life. His mentors were Uncle Jerome Bell and Uncle Spike Guardipee. To him, they were the best. In 2007, he excitingly jumped in with his dad, Grandpa and Uncle to go to his very first roping competition and it was called "Pot of Gold," and he roped with his Uncle Spike Guardipee. Cooper was the youngest competitor at this very roping. He came home empty handed, but boy did he have fun. He talked about that story 'til the end of his days. In 2008, he partnered up with his lifelong "healing" partner and cousin, John Bell. And boy those two talked about how "vicious" they were. They both travelled up and down the Hi-Line, winning rodeos and making memories that became stories they never stopped telling, where many buckles, saddles, jackets and cash were won. The biggest accomplishment was in 2009 at the Bear Paw Youth Rodeo when their rodeo coach Jerome Bell was proud of all four of his students when they each won saddles in their events. Cooper didn't get that win easy, he missed that day and thinking he didn't get the saddle win he wanted, he was ready to pack up and head home with his head down. His mom talked him out of it by telling him to keep his head up and not quit. She made him stay there despite him wanting to go home then the announcer yelled out "the 2009 champion header winner is Cooper Healy". He looked around all surprised and proudly walked to pick up the winning saddle with a grin ear to ear. He and his partner John Bell continued on to win rodeos up and down the Hi-Line. He defended his title in 2010 and proudly carried that saddle to his dad. He told his dad "this win was for you, dad". When he brought the saddle home, he took it straight to his Grandpa, where he proudly displayed it for all to see in his home. Through the years, he continued to travel with his Uncles, Grandpa and even hitched rides with his mom; every once in awhile his dad was able to "sneak away from the office and his farm work" to haul his son to compete in his rodeos.
In 2009 he stole away his dad's "top" and he made "Danny Boy" his top. He showed his dad that it was now his top and together, "Danny Boy" and Cooper's talented roping skills made him a champion roper. Although the original owner of the horse, Nick Faber, said, "this horse is not a kid's horse," Cooper proudly proved him wrong. Cooper made that horse "his horse."
Now Cooper is "our" Cowboy Angel. We all know that he will be watching over all the Cowboy contestants as they "ride on." Cooper was supposed to leave that tragic Friday to hit the rodeo trail with world champion ropers. Our family had such high hopes for him, our baby boy, but his young life was tragically taken from us too soon. He always made us, his brothers and sister, proud. He loved hanging out with his friends and family, listening to country music and helping with cattle, horses and anything that kept him outside.
Condolences may be left online at www.kirkwoodfuneralhome.com and/or www.greatfallstribune.com.
Published in Great Falls Tribune on Mar. 26, 2013