Gary Russell Cooper, 75 is now "absent from his body but present with his Lord." He was born on May 31, 1946, in Allegan, Michigan to Russel and Irene Cooper and big brother Bob. The family, being in the oil business, travelled around the midwest as Russell was an oil well driller and they followed the activity. They lived for some time on Lake Manitou in Rochester, Indiana and enjoyed the lake life where Gary attended Woodrow Elementary School and Rochester Junior High where both Gary and Bob played basketball there. Gary left Indiana with many fond memories and special friends. Moving from there to Paw Paw, Michigan, Gary attended Paw Paw High School where he played basketball, tennis, and was class salutatorian graduating in 1964. Again, there were faithful friends and great memories. It was also while living in Paw Paw that he met his wife-to-be, Kathy Pea and even though his family moved right after his high school graduation to Wayne, Ohio, Gary and Kathy kept their relationship going through college and married in August, 1967.
Gary majored in business pre-law at Bowling Green State University and graduated in June 1968. He had a full scholarship to Notre Dame Law School, but could not attend Notre Dame as graduate deferments ended that year. As the Vietnam conflict had escalated he enlisted in the U.S. Army where he served 1968-1969.
The lure of the oil field was in his blood so when he returned from army service he and brother Bob started an oil exploration, drilling and producing company named Pioneer Drilling Company that humbly began in 1972. During this season of his life his three beloved children were born: Laura Kristine, Kara Dianne, and Clinton Christopher.
Also in this time period, through God's grace he was "chosen" to be a believer and disciple of Jesus. He put much time into the study and memorization of scripture which was a great joy in his life.
Pioneer Drilling was a thriving company, but when the price of oil dropped significantly, and the stripper wells that Pioneer was re-producing in the Payne, Van Wert, and Fort Wayne areas were struggling, it was time to find another career. So Gary became sales manager for TV44 in Lima in 1994. He also sold insurance for a while and then went back to TV44 in 2006 and retired from there in 2011. Gary and Kathy had the wonderful opportunity to travel to many, many places in the United States, Caribbean and Europe. After retirement they had a fun "hobby" that they called "Paris Flea Market" where they refurbished furniture and Gary built many lovely tables, islands, cabinets, benches and more.
Russell, Irene and half-brother Eugene Cooper preceded him in death.
Surviving is his wife, Kathryn Cooper, his brother, Robert (Marsha) Cooper, his children, Laura (Peter) Burger of Tampa, Florida, Kara Cooper of Van Wert, and Clinton (Caroline) Cooper of Doylestown, Ohio. Grandchildren are: Rayna, Maya, and Amelia Burger; James Cooper; and Jackson, Norah and Ethan Cooper.
For Gary, " To live is Christ and to die is gain". Many times he would say that his loyalties were first to God, then his family, the the Buckeyes!
Calvary Evangelical Church in Van Wert is Gary and Kathy's church family where a memorial service will be held at 10:30 am on Wednesday November 24, 2021 with visitation the preceding evening, Tuesday, November 23, 2021 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, any memorial donations be given to CHP Hospice of Van Wert.
To share Gary's online memorial, please visit www.alspachgearhart.com
Arrangements have been entrusted to Alspach-Gearhart Funeral Home and Crematory; 722 S. Washington Street, Van Wert, Ohio 45891.
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