Jul 31st 1918 - Aug 12th 2012
With a life that spanned nearly a century, John Harold Cooper made the most of the days he was given while creating a brilliant mosaic of memories that have become a lasting gift for his friends and loved ones to cherish. He was a hard working man of great character who had many interests that greatly enriched his life through the years. Harold passionately said that he was blessed to find true love not once, but twice, and his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren were the light of his life. The timeless legacy Harold leaves behind will be proudly carried on by those who follow him.
If one could turn back the hands of time to the year 1918 they would reveal an America that is drastically different from the America we know and love today. There were issues with monopolies, unsafe working conditions, and a lack of child labor laws. Although President Woodrow Wilson had declared that America was “too proud to fight” during WWI, repeated hostile acts in the Pacific left us with no choice but to engage in the fight for the preservation of the freedoms we still enjoy today. This same year was a year to remember in the lives of one young couple from Muskegon, Michigan, as they were pleased to announce the birth of their healthy baby boy on July 31st. John Harold was the younger of two children born to his parents, Burt E. and Trena (Wierengo) Cooper, and was raised in the family home in downtown Muskegon alongside his sister, Jane.
For the most part Harold, as he was often called, enjoyed a childhood that was typical for the youth of his generation. His father did various jobs to provide for his family while his mother was a homemaker. Early on John developed an appreciation for photography and had his own darkroom in his home. He attended local schools, graduating from Muskegon High School where he learned the skills that he used throughout his career as a pressman.
Once John's formal education was completed, his sister helped him secure a job at the Muskegon Chronicle. Not to be forgotten during this time was his introduction to the woman with whom he would establish the family he adored. Her name was Irma Weersing, and she was a couple years his junior. After dating for a time the couple found themselves deeply in love. With a desire to build a life together Harold and Irma were married on September 3, 1942.
With our entrance into WWII in 1941, supporting the war effort became a way of life for many Americans. Harold worked at Continental Motors, which kept him from being drafted for a time, but he was eventually called into the United States Navy on April 29, 1944. For a time he was stationed on the USS Panamint in the Pacific where he served as a machinist mate, and he was also the driver for the captain of the ship.
After his duty to his country was fulfilled, John was discharged on January 25, 1946, and returned to Muskegon where he and Irma had a house built in the Glenside neighborhood. He went back to work at the paper, and they were soon blessed with the birth of their daughter, Sally, in 1947. Sally was later followed by their son, Ted, in 1957, completing their family of four. They lived in several homes around town as they liked to design a house, have it built, and live in it for a few years only to start the process all over again. As a family the Coopers attended Central Reformed Church.
Throughout his career Harold was a devoted worker. In 1965 he took a job with The Detroit News so they moved to Detroit where they remained until he retired in 1982. During their early retirement years John and Irma tried living in Florida for a few years, but eventually returned to Muskegon. In 1989 he was deeply saddened with Irma’s death.
Brighter days were on the horizon for Harold when he began dating a fellow church member from Central Reformed Church named Mildred DeVries who was also a widow. In 1990 Harold and Mildred became husband and wife. Mildred had children who accepted John with open arms, and the two families blended into one beautifully. He and Millie liked traveling, going on five different cruises through the years and spending their winters in Florida for many years as well.
Throughout his life John was a man of many interests. He was a fantastic woodworker who always had a workshop in each of his homes complete with all the tools needed to complete various projects. Harold especially liked building beautiful furniture including several pieces for family in addition to pieces he donated to Unity Reformed Church where he and Millie attended services together. He was an avid bowler and golfer who continued to be active in these sports well into his nineties. Later in life Harold became quite a bicycle rider, frequently riding around his neighborhood.
During his sunset years Harold’s health began slowly declining, but he still remained active through the Life Circles daycare program for a time. When memory problems later became more prominent, John moved into the Agape House at Blueberry Fields where he received excellent care from the staff.
Through the life of John Harold Cooper we are reminded that it is only through the relationships we share with those around us that we find true joy. He was a loving husband, devoted father, and true friend who treasured the times he shared with those he cherished. The memories Harold leaves behind will remain forever near and dear to the hearts of many.
John Harold Cooper died on Sunday, August 12, 2012. Harold’s family includes his wife, Mildred DeVries Cooper; children, Ted (Lisa) Cooper of Romeo MI, Sally (Albert) Roberts of Salisbury NC, Barbara (Roger) Brink of Muskegon, Pamela (Donald) Correll of Muskegon, Thomas (Janice) DeVries Sr. of Holland; grandchildren, Katlyn Cooper, Kelsey Cooper, Amy (Matthew) Shorter, Benjamin (Shannon) Roberts, Danelle (Jordan) Nemmers, Meghan (Charles) Arnson, Elizabeth (Dale) Grimm, Dr. Margaret (Kurt Knop) Lowe, Thomas (Lyndsi) DeVries Jr.; 15 great-grandchildren; sisters-in-law, Joyce (Kenneth) Williamson of Bradenton, FL, Joyce Weersing of Muskegon, Audrey Montevideo of Athens, GA; and numerous nieces, nephews & friends. Harold was preceded in death by his parents, first wife, Irma; sister, Jane Helmer. Services will be held on Wednesday, August 15, 2012, 11:00 a.m. and visitation 1 hour prior to the service at the Clock Chapel - Muskegon with Rev. Timothy D. Vander Haar officiating. Interment at Oakwood Cemetery. Memorials can be directed to LifeCircles. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to leave a memory or sign the online guest book.