Ruskin King Cooper
COOPER WINSTON-SALEM Ruskin King Cooper Sept. 28, 1957 - July 18, 2012 Ruskin King Cooper, born Sept. 28, 1957 died Wednesday July 18, 2012. He was 54. Ruskin collapsed on Thursday July 12, and never regained consciousness. He passed quietly surrounded by his loving family and is already missed beyond measure. Ruskin lived a life so full that it is hard to know where to begin to list the highlights. His love for music began before he could speak. By the age of four he could sing several songs in perfect tempo and pitch. He would tap on an old pump organ pumping with one foot and so began his passion for keyed instruments. Under the tutelage of his maternal grandmother the late Mrs. Ruskin (Mary Justice) King, wife of Dr. Ruskin King, he began to learn the fundamentals of musical notation. Not long thereafter he began piano lessons with Jocelyn Sack Reiter his next-door neighbor and life-long friend. The late Dorothy Neidlinger Murray took over his musical instruction through his teens. Ruskin attended grade and high school at Savannah Country Day where his mother Emmeline King Cooper was a teacher. He graduated in 1975, but stayed in contact with his 11th-grade English teacher Beulah (Harper) Nettles and would often invoke her name in discussions of grammar and usage. He studied French and over the years became fluent in five languages. He often practiced his language skills while driving. He studied piano with James Ambrose at Armstrong State College for a year. He left Savannah in 1976 for Oberlin College in Ohio and never really lived in Savannah again. He studied piano there with Lydia Frumkin and graduated with a degree in music. Friendships that he formed there lasted throughout his life. His classmate Karen Schwartz was then and remained one of his best friends and confidantes. His educational path took him to the University of South Florida where he earned his Master of Music with Jacques Abram as his advisor. He applied for and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Germany. He spent a number of years in Bad Homburg near Frankfort. He flourished there and would visit beloved friends often throughout his life. He loved Germany and harbored a personal dream of opening a soul food restaurant in Berlin. The main obstacle was how to get collard greens delivered to Berlin from the United States. In 1985 he settled in Winston-Salem, NC. Hedda Boker his beloved patroness and friend followed him to the US to establish residency here. They settled in houses next door to one another in Winston-Salem. Ruskin pursued and earned his Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro under John Salmon. His paper on Robert Schumann's friend Ludwig Schunke was awarded the Outstanding Dissertation Award at UNC-Greensboro in 1995. He was staff pianist at North Carolina School of the Arts from 1985-1991; assistant professor of piano at Salem College from 1997-2001, and artist associate at Davidson College from 1997 on. Ruskin met William Scott Carpenter in 1991 and they began a life together. They were married in a private ceremony in Connecticut in 2011. Ruskin was a loyal and true friend. He was an avid cyclist and student of bridge, all the arts and literature and cooking, ask anyone about his nanner pudding or greens. Ruskin and Scott loved their dog Micho, and cats Sammy, Petie, and Ziv. He gave generously of his time and resources to numerous causes. He raised many thousands of dollars for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in the name of his mother Mary Emmeline King Cooper who died in 2007 from complications of this often-misunderstood disease. He is survived by his husband Scott of Winston-Salem, NC; father Robert Scotland Cooper, Sr. of Savannah, Ga.; his brothers, Robert Scotland Cooper, Jr., and Graham Patteson Weisiger Cooper (Lisa); his nieces Valerie Emmeline Cooper, Hedda Eugenie King Cooper, and nephews Benjamin King Cooper, Samuel Mallard Cooper, and a host of friends that he treated like blood kin. His family members extend their heartfelt gratitude to the staff at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Doctors Alvarez, Butler, Stacey, Sarwal, Miles, and others treated Ruskin with great gentleness and genuine concern. They also thank the nursing staff in the Cardiac Care Unit including Jeremy, Jason, Jessica, Gabby, Amanda, Laura, Heather and Dee. They especially thank Chaplain William Pegues for his pastoral care. Remembrances may be made to the Multiple Sclerosis Society in his name or in the name of Emmeline King Cooper. Funeral arrangements are incomplete at this time.

This obituary was originally published in the Winston-Salem Journal.
Published by Winston-Salem Journal on Jul. 20, 2012.
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57 Entries
Still thinking of you and missing you, Ruskin. Scott, if you ever read this page, please know that I think of you, too, and hope you are well.
Strachan Pindar
July 23, 2020
Will always miss you, my dear friend.
Strachan Pindar
July 19, 2019
Ruskin was my friend in College. He was funny, and talented. I miss him.
July 14, 2019
Very sad to hear about this. Such a talented and great guy. Friends at USF way back in the day.
Megan Weber
March 7, 2017
In remembrance of a fine person.
All the time we spent in Bad Homburg and Frankfurt; I will always keep in mind.
Ralf Katzer
December 4, 2013
I've never met Ruskin Cooper; however, we have a unique connection. My mother was his babysitter, guessing sometime in the early 60's in Savannah, GA. I'm the youngest of four, and my father named the older three. Mom made it clear that she had my naming rights. Years ago, my aunt in Richmond Hill clipped out a newspaper article where Ruskin received his doctorate in music. I would've loved to have heard him play.

Condolences to the family.
Ruskin Davis
January 1, 2013
I went on the internet a few days ago, hoping to find recordings by James Ambrose, who was our piano professor at Armstrong. I'd googled Ruskin and was able to exchange a few emails with him about a year ago. He and Scott were leaving for a trip to Germany the next week. While listening to a recording of James playing Chopin, I started to search for a recording of Ruskin, excited and feeling sure that I would find him. Instead, I found his obituary. My heart cried out and I couldn't stop crying the entire day. My time of knowing Ruskin was too brief, but had a life-long impact. Like so many remembrances by friends, and I just read every one, Ruskin had a way of going into your very soul. That's where we knew each other, on a soul level. I think he had a clear intent to make that kind of deep connection with all of us. His passion, his humor, his inspiration, his need to reach into the heart, all this was the drive behind his enormous talent. I know that twinkle in his eyes so many of you have mentioned. It's embedded in my memory and my heart. I missed him over the years, and now I just send him a smile from my heart, and see him smiling back, knowing. To Scott, Robert and Ruskin's brothers, a heartfelt blessing for your healing. I do believe he is in the company of Emmaline and the angels.
Celeste Welch
December 8, 2012
I felt so sad when i heared that Ruskin is dead. i know Ruskin from the day i birth and i cant understand why god took him. He was always for me that guy who was everytime i saw him happy. he is for me one of the bes piano players that i know. i´ll never forget the fun we had together....... Rest In Peace my good old friend...
Sami Mandou
October 29, 2012
I was very sad when I just heard of Ruskin's death. I used to practice Hot Yoga with him years ago. I remember he brought me a bottle of John Budd's Hot Sauce(No relation). I am still using it on my food. How very thoughtful of him and what a good sense of humor. I will miss him.
John Budd
October 18, 2012
Ruskin, my sister Helen (Triol Drozd) and I were "faculty kids" at Savannah Country Day and fellow students of Jocey Sack Rieter in Savannah oh, so many years ago. We had a mini-reunion here in Morganton NC several years ago. What a privilege to re-connect with such a special, talented soul. Our hearts break that he is not here with us physically, but the memories remain, forever. Condolences to Scott, his Dad, and brothers.
Debbe Triol Perry
September 29, 2012
During the eighties Ruskin taught piano lessons to me. I was an adult student and I have always held Ruskin in high regard. I will miss Occasionally seeing him around Winston Salem. Kathleen
Kathleen Sides
August 21, 2012
I am so sorry for your loss. I know losing a loved is hard to go through. I hope you can gain comfort from God's future promise.
August 9, 2012
I met Ruskin in second grade in Sav. and we were in the same class for 10 more years. Even in HS he was a patient and kind soul. Then the usual time and distance that happens in life set us apart. But then we had a class reunion last year, and there he was. Older, slimmer, and maybe a little less hair--but unmistakably Ruskin. He always had a smile that made me think he knew a joke that none of us were in on. I wish him peace, and for those he loved, may you too find solace in his memory.
Mac Gordon
August 4, 2012
With deepest sympathy to the family during your time of sorrow. Psalms 46:1 says: God is for us a refuge and strength during this difficult time and may God grant you the comfort to endure.
August 4, 2012
From another of his new bridge friends: we appreciated Ruskin's dedication and aptitude for the game...but only knew that he taught piano at Davidson College. Ruskin drove to Greensboro all spring for our Monday classes and also often joined practice games on Wednesday and Thursday. We talked about his need to find a game in Winston-Salem...while we played in my den the afternoon of July 11th.

To learn today of his passing is such a shock. This talented and learned man will be greatly missed by so many.

Carol Andresen
August 3, 2012
My condolences to Ruskin's family and friends everywhere. He was a tax return client of mine for many years and we became friends through the "interview process" of preparing his returns. I heard exerts of his music today on the radio and, if he were here, I would chastise him for never giving me one of those "advertising" CDs.
Donna Riggs
August 3, 2012
We are fellow Bridge students with Ruskin. We were playing just the day before he became ill. He was really enjoying the experience of getting together to play.
I had been emailing him today to see if he wanted to join us this evening. As we were preparing to leave, we heard an interview that was recorded on NPR a few years ago. It was all about OUR Ruskin and then they announced that he had died.
We are so sorry..We at Bridge really enjoyed having Ruskin as a member of our class and bridge group!
He will be missed greatly..

Pat and Mike Ferry
Pat and Mike Ferry
August 2, 2012
I had the privilege of meeting Ruskin in our Bridge classes on Monday mornings in Greensboro at the Leonard Recreation Center. He was a kind person with a keen sense for the game of bridge. I am so glad that I had the good fortunate to meet and play bridge with him. I will miss him as we did tonight when we played.
Cammie Hall
August 2, 2012
Dear Scott, I am so glad that Ruskin found you and that you had each other to love. I am a friend from high school, we had a special friendship - or maybe he just made everyone feel that way! My heart hurts thinking about what a loss it is. I had many thoughts of visiting Winston Salem since our reunion two years ago, now I regret that I did not. I pray for your comfort and healing. Donna Butler
July 29, 2012
What a lovely beautiful service today for such a lovely beautiful man! I will never forget Ruskin's kind words of wisdom to me. Our SCDS high school class of '75 reunions will never be the same without him.
Julie Askew
July 28, 2012
Dear Family of Ruskin,
I accidently found this notice of the loss of Ruskin. I was a student of Ruskin's for 9 years, and I have missed him since I left the area two years ago. I loved him dearly as an individual, artist, and teacher.
You have my deepest sympathy.
Stephanie N. Cottrell
Stephanie Cottrell
July 26, 2012
dear scott....i am thinking about you and i am so terribly sorry for your loss....
ginger crosman
July 26, 2012
Dear Scott,
we - Eva, Ralf, Jakob and Tabea from Frankfurt - are with you and think of you. We are absolutely shocked!
Eva Krüerke
eva krüerke
July 25, 2012
So sad to learn of Ruskin's death. I knew him through our participation in the Tour to Tanglewood for MS, having been on Team Aetna together in past years. I just saw Ruskin in June and was happy to join his E-Liners Team for the tour in memory of his mother. My thoughts go out to his husband and family at this time of tremendous loss. Take good care. We'll keep pedaling for a cure Ruskin!
Robin Lester
July 24, 2012
Dear Scott,
Although I have not met you, please accept my thanks for being the constant support to Ruskin that I know you have been. During the few, way too brief, occasions I was lucky to share with Ruskin, I got to see and know the warm, witty, and also considerate person that possessed that great, highly developed talent. I learned more about getting to the inside of music, and was inspired to more fully develop my own lesser skills, in those few musical exchanges - quite one-sided, I should say, with me the beneficiary - than I have been in many years. This loss for our musical community is only made less sad by the knowledge that Ruskin lives on in the spirit of his students and in the musicians who have experienced his artistry.
Karen Boyd
July 24, 2012

Dear Scott. We are so sorry to hear of your loss. You and Ruskin's friends and family are in our prayers.
Don and Kathie Eppert
July 24, 2012
He touched my heart in too many ways to explain. My prayers will continue for his numerous friends and beloved Scott and family.
Carol Nault
July 24, 2012
It is with great shock and sadness that I learned of Ruskin's passing. Ruskin and I met as conservatory mates and maintained a close friendship throughout our stay at Oberlin. Our other great friends come to mind - Michael, Maggie, Margie, Clif and John to name a few. My sister Kathy and friend Maria enrolled a bit later at the conservatory and also had the pleasure of meeting Ruskin. My sister in particular had an ability to pierce Ruskin's stiff facade and to make him laugh. I well remember the twinkle in Ruskin's eye preceeding his beautiful smile or laughter. His talent was great indeed, but I think I will remember him most as a sincere and kind and good person. He was quite a southern gentleman. Condolences to his husband and family. I will miss him dearly. Lori Fay email: [email protected]
Lori Fay
July 24, 2012
We were so shocked and saddened to hear of Ruskin's passing. Our thoughts are with his family at this time.
Bruce & Sarah Spradley
July 24, 2012
I only met Ruskin a few times, but it was enough for me to see what a great person he was. I know all his friends and family will miss him. I believe it's Emmeline's turn to enjoy his company once again.
Pam Glendinning
July 23, 2012
I am so sorry to hear about Ruskin, he was a wonderful friend to my son Brandon. I thoroughly appreciated his music and his friendship,

Frauke M. Lauer
July 23, 2012
May the God of all comfort be with the family in your time of healing.
Jo Ann
July 23, 2012
With shock and sadness, I extend heartfelt sympathy to Scott and Ruskin's family. When I was Director of Development at the UNCG School of Music, I had the good fortune to get to know Ruskin, hear him play, and experience his brilliance and gentle nature. His dedication to Hedda, his enthusiastic involvement with the Tanglewood Bike Race for MS, his tremendous musical talent and his gifted teaching - all of these things will be greatly missed!
Nancy Shane
July 22, 2012
I knew Ruskin from Armstrong. He and I were in the music program under Dr. Brandon. When I first met him, I knew he would one day be successful. He was an astounding talent and a decent human being and I was a better person knowing him. I'm sorry to hear of his passing.
Stan Anderson
July 22, 2012
I am so saddened to learn of Ruskin's passing. I can not imagine what Scott and Ruskin's family are experiencing at this time. I extend my deepest and most heartfelt condolences and sympathy. I first became friends with Ruskin nearly 20 years ago when we both were at UNCG. From that time, he has always been such an inspiration, and quite simply he was a beautiful person. Listening to music together, occasionally playing as well, riding around at night in his Miata, going out to eat, making food together, speaking German or Polish, just talking - I have so many fond memories of times with Ruskin. Rest in peace and all my love to Scott and the Cooper family during this time of grief.
Brandon Lauer
July 22, 2012
To Robert Cooper and the entire Cooper Family, our deepest condolences and shared sorrow at the loss of Ruskin. We offer our hope that the fullness of his all-too-brief life will stand as a counterpoint to the grief of his passing. Marion Gannam and the Gannam Family.
Marion Gannam
July 22, 2012
Scott, Drew and I were so very sorry to read of Ruskin's death. We know this is an extremely hard time for you and others who love him, and all of you are very much in our thoughts and prayers. Please let me know if there's any way I can help out.
Love, Barbara
Barbara Edwards
July 22, 2012
I never studied with Ruskin while at Salem College, but I knew of him and had the chance to hear him perform. His talent and passion was and still is, inspiring! May you rest in peace and thank you for sharing your gifts with the world.
Alisa B
July 22, 2012
Ruskin was a kind, loyal, and generous friend to me for many years; I simply cannot believe he's gone. My heart goes out to Scott, Robert, Robbie and Graham and all of Ruskin's family. I'm quite sure he and his dear mother are happily reunited, but what a terrible loss for those left here so prematurely. Deepest, deepest, sympathy.
Strachan Pindar
July 21, 2012
Even though I don't know you, you sound like you had a full life. You sound like you made great use of what was offered to you in this life. May you now rest in peace.
Muriel Sackey
July 21, 2012
Ruskin will always remain in my thoughts. My love to Scott, always here if you need me.
Maria Narf-Spuller
July 21, 2012
Davidson lost an amazing pianist but moreover an amazing person. It was such a privilege to call you a friend and mentor. My prayers go out to Scott and the family! Ruskin King Cooper its so hard to believe that you are not with us. May you sleep easy and rest in peace! God bless you!
Pearce Lockwood
July 21, 2012
Rest in peace Ruskin. My thoughts and prayers go out to Ruskin's family and friends as we all cope with this sudden loss.
Alan Karpinski
July 21, 2012
Ruskin touched the lives of so many with the simplest word of encouragement. A perfect example of a life well lived. I cannot imagine how his light must now shine.
Timothy Belk
July 20, 2012
The World is a better place because Ruskin was in it. I am thankful I was able to spend time with my classmate at our reunion in 2010. My compliments, my friend, on a life well lived. You will be missed
Eric Garwes
July 20, 2012
I didn't know Ruskin while we were at Oberlin, but we met on an alumni trip to Nicaragua with El Porvenir. Intelligent, adventurous, hard working, giving and supportive- with my (then) 14 year old son who was on the trip with us, and all those we met and worked with in the villages. The world has lost a gifted, thoughtful person.
Mary Grenz Jalloh
July 20, 2012
Scott, our family extends its deepest condolences to you at this tragic time. Although it has been a long time since our time at St. Paul's in WS, we remember you fondly. May God comfort you.
Perry and Lisa Jennings
Lisa and Perry Jennings
July 20, 2012
Ruskin was my special friend from high school, we did not see each other often through the years, but could always pick up where we left off. Thank goodness for the high school reunions that brought Ruskin back to Savannah. He played the piano at one, I will never forget it. And then his concert a couple of years ago, not long after
a very happy and well attended SCDS reunion. OH how I will miss Ruskin's light in this world. May he rest in peace. Donna Butler
Donna Butler
July 20, 2012
Ruskin will live forever through his music and generous spirit. Our hearts are heavy with sadness to have lost a truly dear friend. We will forever hold close the memories and love that we shared with you and your wonderful family. Our dearest Scott, we love you and pray for your comfort. Our dearest Hedda, thank you for bringing us all the wonderful opportunities to experience so much of Ruskin's gift. Ken and Chris Reische
Ken and Chris Reische
July 20, 2012
I fondly remember Ruskin from our high school days and musical performances through the Savannah Piano Teachers Club. I admired him with highest regards for his talent, accomplishments and above all, for his kind soul. One of Savannah's brightest stars will be deeply missed. With heartfelt sympathy.
Gerald Stamey
July 20, 2012
Ruskin was an extraordinary man. Gave his all to all around him. To say he will be missed is an understatement. I will miss your gentle soul, my friend.
Beth Fulbright
July 20, 2012
Ruskin lived each day to its fullest, with love and true kindness. You live on in our hearts and bring smile to our thoughts, yet we will grieve this and many days.
Stanley Street
July 20, 2012
My heart is filled with grief over this news. Ruskin was such the champion for the Central NC Chapter of the MS Society. He was not only a top fundraiser and team captain, but a friend to many. There will be something missing in the Tour to Tanglewood this year. I'll never forget the time he nicknamed me cupcake and will cherish the memories of Ruskin for a lifetime...much love to Scott and his family...
Shannon "Cupcake" Newman
July 20, 2012
Ruskin gave so many wonderful performances at Davidson; we were fortunate to get to share in his love of music. We shall miss him dearly.
Ruth & Richard Ault
Davidson, NC
July 20, 2012
adios amigo...I will forever treasure your friendship
Lynn Heptinstall
July 20, 2012
My thoughts and prayers are with Scott and the rest of Ruskin's family.
Sheila Hunter
July 20, 2012

What will we do without you....I will love you forever and after...I don't belive I could have EVER made it through the DMA without your humor and your friendship...I will never be able to eat key lime pie or see tulips (especially in a field) without thinking of you!!!! Rest Now Dear Ruskin...
Alexa Schlimmer
July 20, 2012
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