John A. Cooper (known to many as “Coop” ) was born November 18, 1923 in Roswell, New Mexico to Albert Cecil Cooper and Cleota Hamner Cooper. He died on January 17, 2021, peacefully at his home on the ranch north of Tinnie, NM.
He was married to Joyce McKnight on December 31, 1944. They had 6 children, 12 grandchildren, 2 great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great-grandchild by the time of his death. She preceded him in death on November 8, 1981.
His second wife, Mary Jones, predeceased him in July, 2020 following 36 years of marriage. She is survived by 2 daughters, 3 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren. He also was preceded in death by his parents and by 3 siblings, Ruby Lois Cooper, Albert O. Cooper, and Jerry Cooper.
His first job was as as soda jerk at Mitchell s Pharmacy on Main Street in Roswell, and following high school he enlisted in the Army Air Corps at the onset of World War II. In the course of his military service he attended college and was stationed at Pensacola, FL. After discharge from active duty as a sergeant, he became a rancher north of Tinnie, where he ranched the rest of his life, amidst partnerships with his in-laws and descendants in the family ranch operations.
He raised sheep and cattle. In the course of sheep ranching, he developed a premier herd of crossbred sheep equalled by few in the quality of their fine wool fleeces which lacked the excess lanolin common in other fine-wool fleeces, and garnered state and national awards in wool shows during the 1960's and 1970's, including grand champion fleece at the National Western Livestock Expo in Denver in the mid-70's. His children and grandchildren were active in 4-H and FFA, and have carried on the family ranching tradition.
He was an active civic leader, serving 32 years on the Hondo Valley Public Schools school board from 1952 to 1985, and 18 years on the board of supervisors of the Upper Hondo Soil and Water Conservation District. He was active in the New Mexico Cattle Growers and New Mexico Wool Growers, served as its president, and was New Mexico Sheepman of the Year in 1990. He was a founder of Boy Scout troop 162 at Hondo and was a scout leader for several years. He was a long-time Episcopalian, was a member of the Episcopal Churches of Lincoln County, served on its vestry, and attended St. Anne’s.
He was blessed with 97 healthy, happy years with a large family and abundant blessings from God. His is a legacy to be admired and remembered by all who knew him.
A private family graveside service will be held at South Park Cemetery in Roswell, with a memorial service to be arranged at a later date.
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