Farming Rural 04

John Cooper

June 2, 1927 ~ November 4, 2021 (age 94)


John Cooper, 94, of Pittsboro died on November 4, 2021.

John was a loving and devoted husband to his wife of 60 years, Mary Lou Joyce Cooper, who predeceased him in 2011. John was survived by three sons: Steve Cooper and wife, Mary Campbell Cooper of Pittsboro; Sam Cooper and partner, Larry Hazelwood of Pittsboro; and Vann Cooper and wife Harvi Collins Cooper of Silk Hope; four grandchildren: Mary Cooper Sanders and husband, GG Sanders of Siler City; John Cooper and wife Kristine Tyree Cooper of Fayetteville; Will Cooper and wife Andi Skurski Cooper of Silk Hope; Wes Cooper of Charlotte; and five great-grandchildren, as well as numerous beloved nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews. He was predeceased by sisters, Mary Cooper Dobbins of Raleigh, NC; Carolyn Cooper Comer of Dobson, NC; Eleanor Cooper of Dobson, NC; brother, Grady Cooper, Jr. of Raleigh, NC; and his parents.

John was born in Dobson, NC on June 2, 1927, to Grady and Zella Blessing Cooper. Growing up on a dairy farm that included milk delivery on his bicycle, John graduated from Dobson High School; thereafter, he enlisted and served in the Merchant Marines for three years, which included travel on hospital ships in the Atlantic and Pacific. He later attended Appalachian Teacher’s College; transferred to North Carolina State University and graduated in 1951 with a degree in Animal Science.

Following his graduation, he married Mary Lou Joyce Cooper on June 9, 1951, and lived in Dobson, NC where John worked on the family farm with his father, Mary Lou, taught school. He next accepted a position as Assistant County Extension Agent in Chatham County, Pittsboro, NC which included working with dairy farmers and serving as a 4-H leader.

He next relocated to Sparta, Allegany County, NC in the same capacity where his worked with Extension Chair, Emerson Black, which included helping dairy farmers transition from stanchion barns to modern milking parlors. John, with the help from his three sons, and fellow Extension agent, Gene Gray, planted the county’s first Christmas tree demonstration farm, an agribusiness that flourishes today.

Encouraged by Chatham County’s agriculture leaders such as dairy farmer Tom Reeves, John returned to Chatham County in 1966 as County Agriculture Extension Chairman, following the retirement of J. B. Snipes. John served Chatham County in this role until his retirement in 1982.

In retirement, John’s enjoyments included serving on the board of NC Production Credit, international travel, trips with Mary Lou’s sister and brother-in-law, Louise, and Bob Edwards, and sharing a garden with fellow retired Extension Agent and neighbor, Richard Bradley. As one of Chatham’s first “pick-your own” strawberry farmers, he valued and appreciated the county’s unfolding agricultural diversity.

John’s life exemplified a life of service to his church, family, and community. Approaching 60 years as a member of Pittsboro United Methodist Church, he faithfully served on countless committees as member, chair, trustee, and lay leader. Following a family dinner, often heard was “gotta go to a meeting.”

Examples of his community service included being a Lion’s Club member for 40-years, Chairman for the Allegany County Centennial Celebration, Co-Chairman for the Chatham County Bi-Centennial Celebration, 30-years of service on Chatham County’s Nursing Home Advisory Committee, and active engagement in various agriculture related organizations, such as the NC Cattlemen’s Association. He lived to be the last surviving charter member of the Silk Hope Ruritan Club, a to-this-day active part of the Silk Hope Community.

John’s philosophy was simple: There is good in everyone. In his dealings with others, he liked to give credit to the other person rather than take credit for himself. He enjoyed doing for others that were in need and worked for the good of all people. He felt that everyone should give back to the community. Possessing a good sense of humor, he never met a stranger.

Known to say, “I would rather wear out than rust out;” he remained active throughout his life, to include daily graveside visits with Mary Lou, most often walking there from Twin Rivers with caregiver, Louise Lefler. John’s end-of-life quality, dignity, and richness were in large measure due to the loving and compassionate care provided by Louise Lefler and Pat Ellis, for whom the family is grateful.

A service celebrating the life and faith of John Cooper will be held on Sunday, November 7, 2021; 2:00pm, at the Pittsboro United Methodist Church. Following interment at the church, there will be a visitation with the family at the church’s Family Life Center.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that a memorial contribution be made to the Pittsboro United Methodist Church P.O. Box 716 Pittsboro, NC 27312, NC Alzheimer’s Association 5171 Glenwood Ave. #101 Raleigh, NC 27612, local charity, non-profit of one’s choice, and/or extend an act of care and kindness to another.

Condolences may be made at

Donaldson Funeral Home & Crematory is honored to serve the Cooper family.

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Funeral Service
November 7, 2021

2:00 PM
Pittsboro United Methodist Church
71 West Street
Pittsboro, NC 27312


Pittsboro United Methodist Church Cemetery
71 West Street
Pittsboro, NC 27312

Visitation Following Service

Pittsboro UMC Family Life Center
71 West Street
Pittsboro, NC 27312


Pittsboro United Methodist Church
P.O. Box 716, Pittsboro NC 27312
Tel: 1-919-542-2330

Street address is: 71 West St, Pittsboro, NC 27312

North Carolina Alzheimers Association
5171 Glenwood Ave. #101, Raleigh NC 27612
Tel: 1-919-803-8285

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