James R. Cooper, age 103, a long-time resident of Douglas died of natural causes on May 20, 2019.
He was born in Hubbell Michigan on May 18, 1916 to Claudius H. Cooper and Francieska Cooper (Brand). His father, grandfather, great grandfather, and several generations more were copper, iron, and tin miners; first in New York in the early 1800’s before moving to Michigan’s upper peninsula in the 1840’s. Hubbell is a small township located in what once was Michigan’s copper country – an area that was the first major copper mining region in the United States. His grandfather, James Renrick Cooper I, was general manager of the Calumet and Hecla Mine.
After earning a degree in Metallurgical Engineering in 1939, he moved to Arizona where he obtained work from the American Smelting and Refining Company. He was hired by ASARCO in Douglas, that summer and went to work at one of their mines near Morenci, AZ. It was there he met his wife of 58 years, Alice Elizabeth Cooper.
James Cooper worked in the mining industry for almost 50 years in Arizona, Mexico, and Nevada. He was highly regarded for his metallurgical skills, and published numerous technical papers, held several patents. During World War II he served as a navigator in a B-24. He was assigned to the 712th squadron, 448th Bomber Group, 8th Air Force, and his airplane was damaged on a bombing run over Magdeburg, Germany on June 29, 1944. The plane crash landed in Holland and he and the others in the crew were captured. They were liberated on April 29, 1945 after 304 days as POW’s.
He is predeceased by his first wife Alice, his eldest son James R. Cooper, III, and his brother Philip B. Cooper of Laurium, Michigan. He is survived by his second wife Consolación Hernandez Cooper, son Jerry P. Cooper of Houston, Texas, daughter-in-law Corinne E. Cooper, son William C. Cooper of Littleton, Colorado, daughter-in-law Jane Brown, his daughter Maria Victoria Armendariz of Hermosillo, Sonora Mexico, and two step-daughters. He is also survived by an extended family that includes six grandchildren, five step-grandchildren, and 16 great grandchildren.
James Cooper was a life member of the American Ex-Prisoners of War Association, a past National Commander, a 76-year member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, a member of the American Legion for more than 70 years, and a number of other service organizations.
A memorial service in remembrance of his life will be held on July 12, 2019 at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 1038 D Ave., Douglas, AZ 85607 at 10:30 in the morning. Donations in his name can be made to the Elks scholarship programs through the Elks chapter in either Douglas or Sierra Vista, Arizona.