In Memoriam: Elburn "Coop" Cooper ’51

Elburn "Coop" Cooper ’51, died Sept. 5, 2022, at age 98. Cooper grew up in Fargo, N.D. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1942, playing saxophone in the Marine Band and entertaining troops throughout the South Pacific. He served in Iwo Jima, where bandsmen did burial duty and served as nighttime perimeter guards for the airfields. He was later on occupation duty in Japan. 

He completed his bachelor’s degree at Moorhead State University in Moorhead, Mich., in 1949, where he met Norma Mae Olson in the band. The couple married in 1948. After he taught for a year at the University of Nebraska, the Coopers moved to Forest Grove, where he started teaching woodwinds at Pacific University. He transitioned to the Forest Grove School District, where he served as band director for 39 years and later as district music supervisor. 

Cooper was a highly respected private teacher. In their tributes, former students mention his heart, his help and his influence as well as his incredible talent. He was a lifelong member of the American Federation of Musicians and performed professionally in the Portland area for many years, performing with numerous traveling ice shows, Broadway shows, the Barnum and Bailey Circus, and many other ensembles. He also performed for 25 years with the Happy Canyon Band at the Pendleton Roundup. He was honored in 1978 by being invited into the Northwest Bandmasters Association. 

After 55 years of marriage, his wife passed away in 2003. In 2005, Cooper married Elizabeth (Easley) Dyer, and moved to La Grande, Ore., where he continued to teach and perform with local musical groups.

He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Cooper; daughters, Pam Jerrett (and Steve), Kim Hughes (and David); and Melanie Feilzer; nine grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022