Murphy M. Cooper, known better as "Jess" Cooper, died peacefully early Tuesday morning, August 20, 2013, at the Morrow County Hospital, following years of health troubles that started back in 2006. He was 85 years old and from Mount Gilead.
On March 16, 1929, Jess was born in Bath, North Carolina, one of five children of the late Marion and Mattie (Cutler) Cooper, who both died when he was just a young child. He was raised by a foster family with seven sisters, and left school early to be a tobacco farmer.
Wanting a better life, Jess took the first opportunity he could to enlist in the U.S. Navy, when he was only 16 years old. He served his beloved country for four years aboard the U.S.S. General W. A. Mann, who had been stationed in the Philippines.
Upon his honorable discharge, Jess visited Mount Gilead with his best friend from the service, Bob Lanum, and ended up never leaving. Not only did Bob help him find work at HPM, but he also met the young lady he would marry, Florence Dewiel. He and Florence eloped to Cumberland, Maryland, and were married on August 16, 1952. They shared 61 years of marriage and lovingly raised six children.
In 1951, Jess began working at the Hydraulic Press Manufacturing Corporation as a welder. He dedicated himself to HPM for nearly 40 years, retiring in 1991.
With a love for the outdoors, Jess went fishing and camping as often as he could. He spent many of his weekends on Lake Erie, or in their house boat that he built himself on the Delaware Reservoir, or camping in Oak Harbor.
For most of his life, Jess enjoyed planting a very large vegetable garden every year that "had enough tomato plants in it to feed all of Mount Gilead". To fertilize his garden he would use the scraps off of the fish he cleaned to eat.
A fan of old time country music, Jess loved listening to his favorite musicians, like Ernie Tubbs, and he tuned in almost every week to the Grand Ole' Opry. He also loved playing the guitar, a love he passed down to his son, Roger, when he was only 9 years old.
A very capable wood worker, Jess was able to build anything he set his mind to. Over the years, he built an addition on his house, a garage, a house boat, countless bird houses for his family to enjoy and much more.
He will be dearly missed by his wife, Florence Cooper of Mount Gilead; two sons and three daughters: Vickie (Tom) Ahlefeld of Bucyrus, Roger (Marcia) Cooper, Jan (John) Vanderkooi, Brenda (Jeff) Crummel, and Andrew Cooper, all four of Mount Gilead; and 9 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren with one more on the way.
Including his parents, Jess was preceded in death by his son, Gary Chubb; a grandson and granddaughter; two brothers, Edmond and Raphael; and a sister, Mary Lee.
The Cooper family will greet friends from 1 – 3 p.m. on Friday, August 23rd, at the Snyder Funeral Home, Craven Chapel, 67 N. Main St., Mount Gilead. Service honoring his life will follow there at 3 p.m., with Pastor John Cory officiating. Burial with military honors provided by the V.F.W. Post 8054 and AmVets Post 87 will follow in Rivercliff Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to Macular Degeneration Association and they may be sent to the care of the funeral home.
Snyder Funeral Homes of Mount Gilead are honored to have been chosen to serve Jess' family and your private condolences may be expressed to them by visiting www.snyderfuneralhomes.com.
Snyder Funeral Home
67 N. Main St Mount Gilead, OH 43338
Published in The Morrow County Sentinel on Aug. 28, 2013