Palmer Resident David Francis Cooper Sr. died Thursday, May 3, 2007, of natural causes at Mat-Su Regional Medical Center. He was 84.
A celebration of life will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, May, 27 at Carol Bock Hall on the Ninilchik Fair Grounds. A potluck will follow.
Mr. Cooper was born March 20, 1923, on Deep Creek River to Frank and Barbara (Oskolkoff) Cooper. The Oskolkoff lineage can be traced back to founding families of Ninilchik. His grandfather, Joseph Cooper, founded Cooper Landing in the 1880s. He grew up in Ninilchik and attended the Ninilchik School.
“He grew up speaking Russian at home and but when he spoke Russian at school he would get punished for doing so,” his family said.
He was one of two students in the first graduating class of Ninilchik in 1942 along with his cousin, Harry Leman. He served in the U.S. Army in Anchorage at Fort Richardson from 1943 to 1946. He married Wanda McClellan seven days after he got out of the Army.
The couple raised sons, David Jr., Darryl and Gary first in Ninilchik, then to Palmer in 1965. Mr. Cooper was involved in the community throughout his life, as a high school hockey coach, member of the Methodist Church of the St. Peter the Fisherman and charter member and past commander of the American Legion Post No. 18 in Ninilchik. He was a commercial fisherman on Cook Inlet for more than 50 years and made his final halibut trip out of Ninilchik in the summer 2006.
He graduated from college at the age of 50. He pursued his interest in the division of corrections and retired as the assistant superintendent Palmer Correctional Facility, and later retired again, at the age of 82, as chairman of the parole board after serving 20 years.
“We will remember him as a true pioneer of Ninilchik and of Alaska, and an inspiration to anyone who ever had the privilege of meeting him. He was a loyal and devoted husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather and friend. He will be greatly missed and his family cherishes all the memories they have of him. He will be laid to rest in the American Legion Cemetery in Ninilchik. He loved mending and hanging net and playing cribbage with his family and friends,” his family said.
Mr. Cooper is preceded in death by his parents; brothers; and sisters.
He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Wanda; sons, David Cooper Jr. and Darryl Cooper and his wife, Marion, of Palmer and Gary Cooper, and his wife, Terry of Ninilchik; grandchildren Kimberly Turner of California, Lee Ann Cooper of Ninilchik, Valley Bonaventure of Anchorage, Connor Cooper of Ninilchik, Zena Disney of Valdez, Michelle Hurley of Anchorage, Bouy Cooper, DeWayne Cooper and Heidi Beonch of Alaska; 11 great-grandchildren; and two great-great grandchildren.
Arrangements were with Valley Funeral Home and Crematory in Wasilla.
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