Ric Lahar Cooper, 72, passed away on December 28 at Edgewood Health and Rehabilitation in Three Rivers from congestive heart failure. Born on January 11, 1951, in Springfield, Missouri, to Patricia (Lahar) Burgi and Cleal Ross Cooper, Ric's journey through life was one marked by determination and multifaceted accomplishments. While playing football for the University of Arkansas, Ric earned his bachelor's degree in Communications. His athletic prowess led him to the Green Bay Packers, where he embraced a professional football career before transitioning to the realm of advertising as a copywriter in St. Louis to pursue his dreams. His advertising career eventually led him to William R. Biggs in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he met Melanie Ann Kroes during the Kalamazoo Tornado of 1980. They sealed their love by marrying 4 years later in Omaha, Nebraska, while he was working for advertising agency Bozell & Jacobs. After receiving a promotion from Bozell, Ric and Melanie relocated to downtown Chicago where Ric would oversee their Chicago office. After 3 years in the Windy City, they wanted to get back to the rural life and invest in their passions. Upon returning to Missouri, Ric and Melanie bought a horse ranch, dedicating themselves to breeding world champion quarter horses. Their mutual passion for music sparked the founding of the Charlie Pride Theatre in Branson, MO, a venue that hosted iconic performances by revered artists such as Don Williams, the Oakridge Boys, and the legendary Charlie Pride himself. They had two daughters, Jessica and Cassi, who effortlessly fostered a love for music and the countryside just like their parents. Ric's career in advertising soared to new heights, prompting a move to Miami, Florida, where he established Cooper & Hayes – one of the region's leading advertising agencies. Amidst this bustling chapter, he lent his strategic expertise to political campaigns for both George W. Bush and Jeb Bush while adeptly steering the agency as its CEO. Ric's determination knew no bounds-when he set his sights on something, there was no stopping him. Retiring in 2007, Ric and his family moved to a farm in Delton, Michigan, to be near family and back in the cherished rural countryside. He joins his parents and his brother Rodney Cooper in eternal rest, leaving behind a legacy treasured by his beloved wife of 39 years Melanie A. Kroes Cooper, daughters Jessica Kroes Cooper of Delton, MI, and Cassandra Kroes Cooper of Grand Rapids, MI, his stepmother Marjorie Cooper of MO, sisters Vickie Carter of Battlefield, MO, Robin Sauls of Ozark, MO, and half-brother Todd Cooper of Ozark, MO. Ric's memory will be forever treasured by all whose lives he touched. In accordance with Ric's wishes, a formal funeral service will not be held, allowing those whose lives he enriched to honor his memory in their own personal ways. Please visit www.williamsgoresfuneral.com to share a memory or to leave a condolence message for Ric's family.