Robert Cooper

Robert Cooper

Long-time Orcas Island resident Bob Cooper passed away quietly on July 19 at the Life Care Center in Friday Harbor at the age of 97.

Born April 15, 1914, Bob lived his first four years in Bellingham, Wash. In February 1919, he and his brother George traveled to California with their mother, Irene Patton Cooper, and their grandparents in a 1914 Cadillac, navigating mostly unpaved roads. The trip took 40 days. The family later moved to the Midwest, where the brothers attended high school and college.

Bob took time off from college to travel, working as a deckhand aboard a cargo ship that served the west coasts of North and Central America. He returned to school, graduating in 1936.

After college, Bob and George founded a plastics manufacturing business that supplied aircraft parts to the military during World War II. Following the war, Bob moved east with his family to Connecticut and later New York City to pursue his interests in advertising and public relations. He also lived in the Washington, DC area where he worked for an energy trade association.

Bob’s first marriage to Priscilla LePelley Cooper ended in divorce in 1956. His second marriage to Marjorie Dorrance Cooper lasted until her death in 2006. In 1973, Bob and Marjorie Cooper founded Cooper Associates, an advertising business in Culpepper, Va., until their retirement in 1985. They then moved to Orcas Island, living close to the Doe Bay property originally purchased in 1906 by his grandfather, Harry “Major” Patton.

Bob was a colorful and popular personality on Orcas Island, known for his humor and quick wit. He was passionate about books and movies. He would frequently acquire every title published by a given author and read each in sequence, sometimes more than once. He reveled in the lore of the windjammer days, regarded commercial fishing among the higher callings of mankind, and in younger days loved fast horses.

Bob is survived by his son, Toby Cooper of Redwood City, Calif., his grandson Selby Lighthill of San Francisco, and his brother George of Santa Ynez, Calif., and George’s family. Bob’s daughter Sharon Cooper passed away on March 26, 2011.

He will be missed by his family and many friends on Orcas Island.

Submitted by Bob Cooper’s family.