Gerald Leon Cooper (06/21/1915 - 01/27/2011)

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Service Information
Heritage Funeral & Cremation
508 North Government Way
Spokane, WA

Gerald Leon
(Age 95)

Died on Thursday, January 27, 2011 at the Spokane Veterans Home with his loving wife of nearly 57 years, Lorraine, at his bedside. Services to honor Gerald's memory and contributions to the community, will be held on Monday, January 31, 2011 at 11 am at the Sunset Chapel, Fairmount Memorial Park, 5200 W. Wellesley, Spokane. A short graveside service will follow and that evening at 6 PM, there will be additional prayers (shiva minyan) said for Jerry at the Spokane Veterans Home's Chapel, 222 East 5th Avenue, Spokane.
He was born in Spokane on June 21, 1915 to Edward Cooper and Goldie Bramer Cooper. Gerald was the middle of three sons, all of whom enlisted in the United States military after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He served in England, France, and Germany attached to the 9th Air Force. During a bombing raid in London, his ear drum was punctured, and he permanently lost his hearing in his left ear.
Passing high school chemistry was deemed sufficient for Jerry to be assigned to teach chemical warfare at Spokane's Geiger Field prior to being sent to Europe on the second Mauretania. He arrived at Omaha Beach at D-Day Plus Six. The following year, he was deputized to transport Hermann Goering, Adolf Hitler's designated successor, to Nuremberg, Germany. The former Nazi official was dressed in his military whites, but since the Allies needed to protect his identity en route to his final posting, Jerry put the Nazi Commander-in-Chief of the German Air Force in a dirty coal carrier for the trip.
A founding member of Spokane's Temple Beth Shalom, Jerry was also a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, and the Musicians Union. Beginning at age 15, Jerry started working part-time at Western Union. The messengers competed mightily to deliver telegrams alerting "ladies of the night" of their upcoming work schedules in many of downtown Spokane's old hotels, as the "working girls" were known as the most generous tippers.
Jerry worked in the clothing industry prior to and after the war. Eventually, he and his late younger brother, Bernard, opened Coopers Men's Shop on East Sprague. Later the brothers opened the Blue Lantern Tavern on North Division and upon selling the tavern 25 years later, he worked as a salesman at all the local Red Wing shoe stores for another 15 years.
Not one to sit idle (after all, he installed his underground, automatic lawn sprinkler system all on his own), Jerry joined the Spokane Police Department's Senior Volunteer Program for five years. This volunteer work allowed Jerry to come full circle, as he used to sell uniforms to the police officers and do their tailoring when he owned his own shop decades earlier. Until recently, Jerry's treadle sewing machine still came in handy for minor clothing repairs.
The Cooper sons were musical and at an early age, Jerry's dad acquired a drum set for his middle child. Not only did "Bud" play with his late older brother, Sydney, in their own dance band while in high school, he also played with various big bands in the greater Spokane region for more than 40 years. Many older Spokanites may remember Jerry playing at the Breezy Point at the State Line or playing for Louis Davenport in the famed hotel's Italian Gardens. In addition, Jerry played music with fellow soldiers during the war and one of the most precious photographs his daughter has of her father shows him playing the drums with his buddies at a Displaced Persons camp somewhere in Europe. Jerry was set to audition for one of Paul Whiteman's traveling bands when the war ended and he decided instead to come home.
The story goes that Jerry told his future wife, Lorraine, that he was going to marry her on their first date. While living in Spokane, he was set up with a nice Jewish girl in Seattle (who hailed originally from Chicago) and their courtship was undoubtedly aided by the assistance of a friend's wife who was a long-distance telephone operator. While alchemists could change lead into gold, this good friend could make a 45-minute long distance phone call cost the same as a 5-minute long distance phone call. Lorraine and Jerry were married in June 1954, their only child, Nancy, arrived in July of 1955. Right up until Jerry died, he claimed Lorraine at 93 was still as beautiful as the day he married her.
In addition to his wife Lorraine, Jerry is survived by his daughter, Nancy Cooper, and her husband, Rick Kustina, of Seattle. Additional family left to mourn "Uncle Bud" are his three nephews and their respective families: Steve Cooper of Portland, OR; Brian Cooper of Manassas, VA; and Michael Cooper of Washington, DC. Memorial contributions can be made to Hospice of Spokane (509-456-0438) or Temple Beth Shalom (509-747-3304). Special mention must be made of the professional and loving care he received from the Veterans Home medical and ancillary staff.


Published in Spokesman-Review from Jan. 29 to Jan. 30, 2011
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