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Sister of David Cooper recalls him as glue of the family
Ann Cooper said she will always remember her older brother, Judge David F. Cooper, as being outgoing and not afraid to be silly or goofy, a man for whom life was an adventure.
Ann said her husband, upon first meeting her brother, described Cooper as a free spirit.
"I thought that was the most accurate way anyone has ever described him in one sentence," Ann said. "It summed up all the things I had felt and known about him for all these years."
The body of 64-year-old Justice of the Peace David Cooper was found outside his residence early Saturday morning. According to Yuma police, Cooper's body was discovered at about 7:50 a.m. by someone who was passing by his home. Yuma police say the cause of death is unknown, but it is not suspicious.
"He had a good time in life," his sister said. "I'm really going to miss him."
Ann, who lives in New York City and works as a professor at Columbia University, said she wished everyone had known the playful brother that she knew.
She recalled one year while she was working in South Africa that her brother and their dad came to visit her, and went on a walking tour of the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve. Although she did not go with them, Ann said that while on the tour, the guide took them by an area covered with rhinoceros droppings.
She said her brother, who was also a bit mischievous, actually scooped up some of the dried rhino droppings and brought them back home with him.
"We have a family tradition at Christmas to sneak into someone's house and put a bizarre gift from Santa under the tree without anyone knowing," Ann said. "Ralph Brandt's Christmas present that year was a matchbox full of dried rhino dung."
Ann said her brother always learned so much because he was also an adventurer. She recalls a time in the late 1980s when Cooper and a friend came to visit her while she was working in the Soviet Union.
She said he had brought with him some old jeans and T-shirts, which were extremely valuable in Russia at the time, and traded them at an open air market.
"He didn't speak any Russian, but that didn't stop him," she said. "What he got wasn't valuable, but he did get some wonderful memorabilia."
Cooper, whose eyes misted at times when speaking of her brother, called him the glue of the family who always made people feel better.
"He was the spark plug of the family, just so full of life and humor," she said. "He was so warm and had such a good heart."
One of her fondest holiday memories of Cooper took place on Christmas Eve last year when the family gathered at Cooper's residence for dinner.
"It was a nice, low-key evening and he asked everyone to share their favorite Christmas stories. It really brought everyone together," Ann said. "He made people come out of their shells. You couldn't be shy and retiring around him."
In addition to being the glue of the family, Ann said Cooper was an anchor in her life, someone she could always turn to, no matter what the situation was at hand.
"The people he cared for, he really looked out for and I was one of them," she said. "It has meant so much to me in my life to know that in the crises of my life I could always turn to him, knowing he would be there for me."
She said Cooper was always interested in the law and he possessed the ideal nature for being a judge.
"He was fair-minded, inquisitive and always ready to listen," Ann said. "All of that seemed to come together when he became a judge."
On a side note, she said, Cooper was unbeatable at Monopoly.
"He wanted to win. You might think you had the upper hand, but you didn't," the sister said. "He knew the rules and could find the loopholes and exploit them. He would outlast his opponents."
Ann said she was out doing some shopping the day her brother died and didn't answer her cell phone as family members tried to reach her to tell her what had happened.
"My husband told me later when I got back home," Ann Cooper said. "It was unbelievable."
The last time Ann Cooper saw her brother was their dad's birthday, which they celebrated on the first weekend in October.
"Dad's birthday is Oct. 6 and David's is Oct. 18, so we had had cakes for both of them, even though it was dad's party," Ann said.
David Cooper was born on Oct. 18, 1945, in Long Beach, Calif. He also served in the U.S. Army.
A Memorial Mass will take place 10 a.m. Monday at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.
Johnson Mortuary is handling arrangements including cremation.
James Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854.