U.S. Air Force retired Lt. Col. James (Jim) Wilson Cooper, 76, of Ormond Beach, FL, passed away on October 27, 2008 at his home.
He was born May 21,1932 in Worthington to Chester and Dorothy Wilson Cooper. He moved to Owensboro, Ky, at an early age. Educated in the Owensboro public school system, he graduated from Owensboro Senior High School in the class of 1950 and from Bowling Green State Teacher's College (now Western Kentucky University) in 1954 at which time he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force.
In February 1955, he married Barbara Jean Denham of Benton, Ky, who preceded him in death in 1992. He went on Active Duty in April 1955. Jim was trained as a KC-135 tanker pilot and based for several years at Altus and then Clinton-Sherman Air Bases in Oklahoma. In 1968 he was sent as a Forward Air Controller to Tay Ninh Province, Vietnam, where he earned the Silver Star for his part in directing and participating in the rescue of a downed three-man helicopter crew, in spite of taking a hit himself. He came back from Vietnam with the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star, and some 22 Oak Leaf Cluster medals.
On his return to the United States, he was sent to Flying Safety School and then to Okinawa to run the safety program at Kadena Air Force Base for two years. After returning return to the US again, he went to Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington, where he retired in 1977.
After three years in Bowling Green, Ky, he joined the faculty at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, where he taught aeronautical science courses for 18 years and directed the Aircraft Dispatcher program in conjunction with the FAA.
In 1994 he married Owensboro Senior High classmate Mary Cheatham Rhea of Paris, TN., who survives. Other survivors include a son, Jimmy Don Cooper, and three daughters, Paula Cooper Fuhrman, Crystal Cooper Therrian, and Cathy Cooper Purro, four grandchildren, and four step-children: Alice Rhea Batey, US Navy Commander William Gardner Rhea, John Campbell Rhea, and Charles David Rhea. Heather, Terry, and Randy Graves and Bob Wilson are local cousins.
A memorial service is planned in Paris, Tn, on Dec. 6, with burial in the Cooper family plot in Worthington, at a later date.
Memorial gifts may be made to Hospice of Volusia/Flagler, 7 Florida Park Drive, Suite E, Palm Coast, FL 32135-1429 or Halifax Humane Society, 2354 LPGA Blvd, Daytona Beach, Fl 32124.
Welch & Cornett Funeral Home, Worthington Chapel are in charge of local arrangements.