October 16, 1924 - December 18, 2020
W. Raymond Cooper (October 16, 1924-December 18, 2020) was an exemplary family man who could fix anything and would help anyone. During the 1930s Great Depression, his father, John R. Cooper, was one of the few around with a truck, which meant he was gone most of the time helping farmer neighbors. Joy, his mother, was a teacher, Sunday school teacher, and artist. Ray had an older sister, Margaret, but no one else was close enough to spend time with. His adventures in rural Letts Corner, between Greensburg and Westport, Indiana, along with being a Boy Scout, formed his character of self-dependance, curiosity (mischief), and keeping busy. Ray was a multi-sport letterman at Sand Creek High School, and in true Hoosier tradition, basketball was his favorite. During the last game of his senior season an intense rivalry came down to the last seconds with the score tied. Ray got the ball, racing through the lane for a layup. The defending guard pushed him hard into the wall beneath the basket. Ray’s kneecap cracked. But he insisted on taking his own foul shots. Zero time on the clock. All the players are off the court. Ray at the line, balancing on one leg, missed the first. But the second free-throw scored the winning basket. The day after graduating from high school in 1943, Ray and classmates drove up to Indianapolis to enlist. He says he chose the Navy because he didn’t want to march in the Army. Ray was the machinist mate on a net tender supervising older crew members. One night a green signalman spotted flashing light signals. Without checking with the Captain, he answered a Japanese battleship’s challenge to a duel. With the battleship beginning to turn in their direction, the Captain ordered full speed ahead. The battleship was clearly gaining. The Captain bellowed to Bill (Ray was nicknamed “Bill” during the war much to his chagrin) to break the governor seal for the massive diesel engine. Ray responded that was against regulations. “*#!+%¢∞, Bill, break the seal and get us out of here!” bellowed the Captain. Ray nursed the screaming diesel to keep it from blowing up until the battleship finally got bored and returned to its course. After the war, Ray was offered a basketball scholarship to the University of Louisville, but he wanted to explore life. Ray and his only male cousin, Bob Ponsler, worked and horsed around together. They saw Frank Sinatra in NYC, bought a service station in Columbus, IN, and drag raced on S.R. 3 in their identical 1937 Chevy coupes. One day after motorcycling around southern Indiana with Mitchell Coombs, they pulled into his family farm driveway. Ray spotted a teenage girl in the yard and asked Mitchell, who is that? “She’s my sister, Martha.” During high school, Ray dated Janice, the cheerleader captain. While Ray was in the Pacific, a new girl became a cheerleader and Janice’s best friend. Martha began writing servicemen, as did women all across the country, but Ray and Martha began a regular correspondence. It didn’t take long after that driveway first meeting that the jock and cheerleader married in 1948. Ray started working for Cummins Diesel and was chosen to be part of the team to build a race engine. The Cummins racecar for the Indianapolis 500 in 1952 won the pole position and led most of the race until track debris forced it out. Years later, Ray became a race referree during the 500, sitting with no fence between him and the track - just a pad of paper and synchronized watch - keeping the official record of the race before the days of total video coverage. Working for General Electric as an appliance repairman in Indianapolis was a major career change. Ray moved his family from Greensburg to northeast Indianapolis in 1959. It wasn’t long before Ray became parts manager and then eventually manager of Appliance Parts, Inc. Literally every appliance serviceman and apartment maintenance manager in Indiana knew Ray Cooper. Dozens of people credit him for becoming successful professionals because of his mentoring and teaching. Meanwhile, family was Ray’s main focus. The first thing Ray did upon moving to Indy was build a basketball court in the backyard that grew and became paved & lighted. By 1972, it was a popular hangout year-round to find a pickup game with kids from many area high schools. The Cooper family were members of Forest Manor Methodist Church. Ray was Sunday School Superintendent and built his first baseball diamonds nearby. More diamonds were created over the years as Ray volunteered and coached baseball for his three sons. He compiled an impressive run coaching five consecutive championships from Little League through travel teams. He was a Dad that played with his kids. Ray’s hobbies were fixing and improvising anything – especially electrical. And cars. He traded cars often and eventually played with antiques after moving to Brownsburg. He loved driving his old cars in annual parades. Ray served on Brownsburg’s zoning council for several years. In 1982, Martha died after a too brief battle with cancer. His four children were married and starting families. Ray was not meant to be alone. Through close friends, a blind date was arranged, and in 1983, Ray married Jo Ann Bragg. They enjoyed traveling and became Florida snowbirds. Jo Ann influenced Ray to be more involved in church. For several years they had fun traveling with a Christian puppet show troupe. Ray was an Elder at Cornerstone Christian Church in Brownsburg, IN, and a deacon at First Baptist Church in Palmetto, FL. Ten years ago, the shadow of Alzheimer’s began to grow darker. Other aging issues began to take their slow toll. Ray’s family is thankful that he made it to 96 years old, and that he could pass peacefully at home with Jo Ann and her daughter, Lori. Survivors include: wife, Jo Ann; children: Dan & Mary Cooper; Ron & Debbie Cooper; Les & Teresa Cooper; Janet & Jim Lahr; Jo Ann’s children: Lori & Scott Summer; Bruce & Reyna Bragg; 17 grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren. Ray wrote he wanted to be remembered as loving, kind, and helpful. He is. For anyone wanting to remember Ray in a memorial contribution, Jo Ann suggests the Alzheimer’s Association/Indiana Chapter at alz.org/Indiana.
W. Raymond Cooper (October 16, 1924-December 18, 2020) was an exemplary family man who could fix anything and would help anyone. During the 1930s Great Depression, his father, John R. Cooper, was one of the few around with a truck, which meant... View Obituary & Service Information
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