John Cooper, 86, transitioned from mortality to immortality to receive to his heavenly reward after an extended illness on Tuesday, April 18, 2017, at St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital.
He was born on March 5, 1931, in Trenton, Kentucky, to Charlie and Evelyn N. (Smith) Cooper. He and his family relocated to Anderson, Indiana, in 1941 and he attended Shadeland Elementary School, Central Junior High School and was a graduate of Anderson High School in 1949.
Following graduation, he obtained employment at Delco Remy-GM, Anderson.
In 1950, he joined the United States Army and served for three years. During his time of service, he attained the rank of corporal in the Military Police Corps. Upon honorable discharge, he returned to his employment with Delco Remy where he completed the skilled trades program in the area of pipefitting and plumbing. This led to his becoming the Supervisor of Pipefitters. He retired from Delco in 1989 after 39 years of service. After retirement, he was employed with the City of Anderson Community Development Department as a housing rehabilitation inspector. He was appointed to the City of Anderson Board of Public Works in 1994 by Mayor J. Mark Lawler and served in that capacity for 10 years.
John was an active member within the Anderson community for over 40 years. He was awarded numerous accolades from the following organizations: the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Second Harvest Food Bank, the Urban League of Madison County and the Gospel Music Workshop of America (Anderson Chapter).
His many honors and awards include, but are not limited to, Life Member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, B. Harry Beckham Memorial Award, founding board member and Director Emeritus of Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana, and Treasurer of the Urban League of Madison County from 1978-1979.
Following his relocation from Kentucky to Anderson with his family, he became a member of Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church. John received Christ as his personal Savior and was baptized at the age of 16. During his tenure at Allen Chapel, no task was too large or too small for Brother Cooper. His love for Allen Chapel was unlimited; he served as a Trustee, janitor, and as a Sunday School teacher and Superintendent. He was also president of the local Lay Organization and treasurer of the Indiana Conference Lay Organization. He was named "Man of the Year" of Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church in 1985, and in 2009, he was named "Man of the Year" of the South District Indiana Conference of the A.M.E. Church.
His ministry of music was his greatest passion. He fulfilled that passion as a member of the Allen Chapel Senior Choir for 68 years; he sang with the Indiana Lay Men's Chorus for 30 years. His booming baritone singing voice was recognized throughout the city of Anderson, throughout the Indiana Connectional Church and the Church of God. His love of music was passed on to his children and grandchildren.
In 1958, John was introduced to the love of his life, Reeba May Lewis, by Mrs. Elizabeth DeGraffenreid. During their 50th anniversary celebration, he shared with the attendees that when he saw Reeba walk into Allen Chapel that day with Mrs. DeGraffenreid, he knew at that moment that she would be his wife. They were joined in holy matrimony on June 20, 1959, at Sherman Street Church of God in Anderson. To this union, they successfully raised four children, Cynthia Kay Lewis Reed, Colette Maria Cooper Cunningham, Philemon Lloyd Cooper and Jason Cyril Cooper.
John is survived by his wife of 57 years, Reeba; daughters, Cynthia (Kenneth) Reed of Muncie and Colette (Jerome) Cunningham of Anderson; sons, Philemon (Catrina) Cooper of Fishers and Jason Cooper of Chesterfield; grandchildren, Crystal K. Reed, Kenneth J. Reed, Roger P. (Sarah) Reed, Jaylon I. Cooper, Hannah L. Ripberger-Cooper and Kyla J. Cooper; great-grandchildren, Kameron A. Taylor and Preston A. Reed; sister, Ruth Cooper Wilson; brothers-in-law, Billy J. (Willie May) May Jr. of Anderson, James (Gail) May of Tucson, Arizona; sister-in-law, Katherine May of Anderson; aunt, Susie Cager of Marion; and a host of nieces, nephews and cousins.
He was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Dorothy Cooper Chambers; mother-in-law and father-in-law, B.J. and Ruby May; and brother-in-law, L.C. May.
Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Allen Chapel AME Church, 1610 Sheridan St. The visitation will be Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. at L.C. May Funeral Services. Friends may also view Saturday at the church from 9 to 11 a.m.
The Revs. John L. Lambert and Richard T. Patterson, Jr. will officiate. Burial will follow in Maplewood Cemetery with military honors.
Published on April 25, 2017