Elizabeth "Betty" Cooper

November 4, 1920 - December 3, 2016
East Lansing, MI



Saturday, January 14, 2017
11:00 AM to 12:00 PM EST
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Alt & Shawmut Chapel
2120 Lake Michigan Dr., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 453-8263
Driving Directions


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Burcham Hiils Retirement Center
2700 Burcham Hills Dr
East Lansing, MI 48823


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

Ball Park Floral
8 Valley Ave.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 459-3409
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Elizabeth"Betty" Doris Cooper was a remarkable woman. She always set the standards for her family and friends by the way she could host the most gracious family gatherings and make each and every person feel special by listening to their concerns without ever turning the conversation back toward herself. Betty was a loving wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who leaves behind a rich legacy of being an independent person who managed to care for herself well into her aging years. She will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered.

Looking back on the 1920’s, it was a period of sustained economic prosperity with a distinctive cultural edge. Radio stations were growing in operation throughout the US, and the media was focused on jazz music and celebrities, and at the brink of what would be known as the Roaring Twenties, Anthony and Emma (Weinert) Abair welcomed home Elizabeth on November 4, 1920 in Ludington, Michigan. She was the last of their six children. There was a certain amount of tenacity needed for those who lived through these trying times, and Betty was never one to sulk. Instead, she took on every challenge with a positive spirit.

Her father was a fire tender and night security man at the Carrom factory in Ludington where he worked tirelessly for meager wages. Betty attended local schools and by the age of sixteen graduated from Ludington High School. During school, she sang in the school choir and mastered the piano, a gift she later shared with her grandson, Noah who enjoyed many hours at the keyboard with her over the years. After graduation, she moved south to Muskegon to attend the School of Business where she gained knowledge in secretarial skills and later became an instructor. While enjoying a beverage in Muskegon’s Occidental Hotel, she met the man of her dreams, John Cooper. He was working as oil chemist, working for Naph-Sol Refining Company, a division of Marathon Oil/Zephyr Gasoline at the time, and they couldn’t wait to spend the rest of their lives together. Back home in Ludington they married on April 15, 1944 at the Swedish Lutheran Church because her family church had burned down and they were too eager to wait for the rebuild. The newlyweds honeymooned in the windy city of Chicago before settling back in an apartment on Mason Street in Muskegon. With its beautiful lakeshore and promises of a future home for their family, they bought their first home downtown on Southern Avenue. Here, they were blessed with two children; Carol and John. Later they moved the family to more rural Pappas Rd for five years and then to North Muskegon on Ruddiman Drive. After a number of years they moved to Grand Ledge where John worked as a chemist monitoring air quality for the State of Michigan. They made a final move to Grand Rapids. Having suffered from early onset juvenile diabetes from the age of fifteen, John had learned to contend with the disease his whole life. With John’s increasing health issues, Betty worked most of her life. She started as an instructor at the Muskegon School of Business. From there, she worked with the Lansing Business University and later as an employment interviewer for MESC in downtown Grand Rapids and finally at Calvin College until she retired at age 65.

John passed away at the young age of 60 on November 2, 1975. Sadly he was buried on November 4, Betty's 55th birthday. Betty lived for more than forty years as a widow. She began walking in the mall making many new friends and joined a church book club. She bravely made many solo drives to Ludington to visit family and friends still dear to her heart, usually picking blueberries when in season for another delicious pie. She especially cherished her Saturday nights with her sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Eleanor, and Tony Bouwense. She enjoyed many years of card playing, especially fierce games with her granddaughter, Cheyney! Nothing brought her greater joy than spending time with her extended family. Her specialty was beef and pork roasts cooked on the stove top in her "special" pan. Somehow everyone found a seat around her almost magical console table that seemed to expand endlessly into the room. She toured extensively, staying at fourteen elder hostels, watched her favorite soap operas faithfully and followed the career of her sports hero, Tiger Woods.

Betty was generous beyond measure and relished sharing her abundant blessings with others. When her twin great-nephews were celebrating their birthday, for example, she insisted that each of them had a cake of their very own, and indeed she baked two cakes! Sharing in the joys of the holiday season was one of Betty’s greatest gifts. No one in the family will soon forget Betty’s shiny aluminum Christmas tree with its rotating yellow, blue, red and green lights! She was also equally generous with money and her unsolicited advice. She once advised a great nephew to interview for a position when she was working with the MESC office. When he said he wasn't looking for a job she convinced him interviewing would be good experience. Knowing she did not take "no" for an answer, he reluctantly went for the interview to appease her! Betty was a staunch Democrat swimming in a sea of Republicans. Nevertheless she proceeded undaunted, sorry that so many did not see the light! She would gladly help anyone in need and did so in her own private way. She expected a kiss hello or goodbye and if not forthcoming by a younger family member, she held out a cash incentive! She was no stranger to bribery and wasn’t ashamed of it either!

A known conversationalist, Betty entertained many family and friends over the years at both Porter Hills Retirement Village where she moved in her later years and finally at Burcham Hills Retirement Center in East Lansing where she could be closer to her children. She loved to share meals in the dining hall as well as laughter and lasting friendships. Betty will be known for her positive outlook and charm throughout her life where she passionately shared her gift of hospitality. She was proudly independent and lived her life to the fullest by always counting her blessings! Betty’s wonderful memories will be cherished by all who knew and loved her.

Elizabeth “Betty” Doris (Abair) Cooper passed away on December 3, 2016 at Burcham Hills Retirement Center in East Lansing, Michigan. She was preceded in death by her husband, John, her parents, Anthony and Emma (Weinert) Abair, her older sisters Vernice Lapatina, Lauretta Stohr, Alice Anderson, Ruth Nielsen, her brother, Raymond and her grandson, Noah Dobson Cooper. She is survived by her daughter Carol (Ken) Hovey of Ann Arbor and son John Kenneth Cooper, Jr. (Lynne Kohon) of Okemos; her grandchildren Sarah (Mike) Olson and Cheyney Cooper Dobson, and great granddaughter Morgan Olson. Contributions to the Burcham Hills Retirement Center at 2700 Burcham Hills Dr. in East Lansing, Michigan 48823 where caring staff greatly enhanced her final years, would be appreciated. Memorial services for Betty will be held Saturday, January 14, 2017 at 11:00 AM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW in Grand Rapids. You may sign her online guestbook or make a memorial contribution by visiting www.lifestorynet.com.