Coping with Grief
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Before I begin dear readers, let me state that what follows come from the heart allowing you to see Ron Cooper, through the many eyes and words and experiences made all the more poignant by the countless hours spent, with family, friends, acquaintances for a time, and others not coming freely to my mind. Some, remain with us, others departed on other paths in this world, and others gone ahead. None of this would have been possible, except for you. And in that spirit for all you have gifted with us, let me share with you as briefly as I can the life of, “My Love.”Dawn Cooper
To begin: Ron (Coop to his many friends) Cooper was born to Frank Cranston and Dora June (Brooks) Cooperon July 12, 1950, in Jackson, MI. He died on February 4, 2024 at the age of 73, in Fowlerville, MI. He is survived by his daughter Kristin Cooper, brother Lon(Nancy) Cooper and Kurt (Harumi) Cooper, Stepsiblings Diana Kaimon, Danny (Ann) Kaimon and Sisters In-Law Cherie (Colin) Frank and Kristina (Tony) Drumheller, Mother In-Law, Eleanor Watson, Nephews Troy Beers ,Darrin (Gabby) Beers, Andrew Drumheller and Brennan Drumheller. Nieces, Dana Traxler, Brooke Lohr, Sara (Scott) Bulldoser, Deniese (Justin) Halter, Tressa (Jeffrey) Barnett. And lastly myself, Dawn Cooper his wife of 16 years.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Stepfather Charles Kaimon, Sister, Diane Lyons, Sister Andrea Gieske, brother Monty Hunter, and Father-In-Law Gary Watson.
This tells you his lineage, but who was he?
Ron was first and foremost a Marine. He served with pride and distinction, joining a brotherhood for his lifetime.Although injured in a serious accident in service he came back with the determination of a warrior. This was the first in a long story of adversity, faced and overcome that would be a common thread throughout his life. His marine pride bannered in the shop, the house, and on his car. And whenever he would see another marine, he would greet them with a loud robust, “Oorah.”At such times smiling brighter, and with a youthful enthusiasm that would make him sit a bit straighter. Looking at him I would often see small glimpses of that young man that stepped up to the line in this now older man before me now. Finally, I would share that there is a pain physician in Michigan, with a Marine sword on his wall. Ron brought it hidden beneath a sheet prior to surgery, to inspire the efforts of a fellow marine. It hangs as a testament to what this meant to this physician.
Ron was a proud member of the Livingston County Sheriffs Department. He spoke openly of how much he enjoyed being a part of the Department, rising to the rank of Detective. He enjoyed the challenge that it offered, wanting to see justice served for the families. But tempered it with a stronger desire to never sacrifice the freedom of someone unknowingly through a mistake. So he often told me he would not send someone to prison unless he was absolutely sure. Telling me of times, when he went against the grain to prove the innocence of others. He carried the scars of that service as well, being shot in the line of duty. He retained some of the bullets, and the shoulder was replaced. And others would speak of it, but he only rarely. Until his older years, as if to tell the younger people, “I am far tougher than you know”.
Ron was a tireless teacher to his last moments. He loved aviation from childhood, with a father that flew. He was an accomplished pilot, who encouraged others to consider flight. He tried to make it accessible to anyone with the desire and the passion. He wanted them to know the freedom that he found in the air. A plane accident in 1989, left him paralyzed, and forced his retirement from the Sheriff’s Department. But he returned to aircraft maintenance as an AP mechanic eventually getting his Inspection Authorization with a resilience, good humor, and a positivity that was infectious. Those who are wheelchair bound often find themselves relegated to the fringes, and a shadow of their former selves. This would never be his story. He continued to work on planes, inventing a standing chair to allow him better access to engines. The hanger was always filled with aviation people from all walks of life. He would educate owners, help other mechanics, answer questions, and share what could only be characterized as an encyclopedic knowledge of airplanes. He apprenticed many, who went onto to successful careers. In what were to be his last days he started to apprentice Andrew Green. Although still having the desire to teach, Ron was limited in these last months by his failing health that no matter how hard he battled seemed to decline. On many days Andrew would spend time with his master, and instead of learning he would remain although Ron had fallen asleep long ago, for Andrew possesses a servant’s heart.
Ron fought valiantly in his last days. He told me:Don’t give up on me. Just see where I will be in a month.Daily he would continue to go try and go out and work even for a short time. Coming back exhausted but happy.On Sunday, he passed in gentle repose, in his wheelchair, with his head dropped slightly on his chest, unsorted airplane parts on his workbench in his hanger that brought so many people into to his life. There can be no more fitting close, as chose to live and die on his own terms.
To those of us remain, we grieve the loss. And we ascribe labels to the relationship such as friend, mentor, teacher, husband. But this fall short of describing all the funny stories, the wonderful memories, and how he changed each of us, and how we in turn changed him.
I think his last words to us would be the following. Dream large. Persevere. Do not let yourself be defined by your circumstances. Laugh often, and always and if possible, with good friends. Smile when tears would be easier.Love completely and say it often. And if you are blessed to have this day: live it completely.
He was the father of Kristin Cooper. Although estranged, he loved her completely, and it was the desire of his heart to reunite before his passing. Although it never happened, I know he wanted desperately to trade away past disappointments and bitterness for the peace that comes with being loved and accepted. His life’s greatest sorrow was not the loss of his legs but rather the loss of this relationship.
So, to answer the question, who was Ron Coooper, I would say he is someone who lived larger and more fully than anyone I have encountered in my life. Please forgive any inconsistencies in this account, as I have drawn from his words and the words of others gathered from our many years together. With gratitude his suffering is no more. He is now experiencing a sense of freedom and love together with God the father, author of this creation, and with his blessed son Jesus Christ our Savior. Soar high my love.
IN REGARD TO FLOWERS AND PLANTS: Although they are beautiful and tangible expressions of support, we ask that you consider sending a donation to Dawn Cooper, 4825 Hogback Road, Fowlerville, MI 48836. All donations will support the education of Andrew Green. Andrew’s apprenticeship is yet incomplete. The desire of the family is to help Andrew complete his license and be a living legacy for Ron. And to this end we will be gifting him many of his master’s well-worn tools. May he use them well and pass along the love and passion for aviation.