Elmer Cooper - May 10, 2012
Elmer Cooper was born on May 14, 1920 on the Cooper ranch in Perkins County, southwest of Grant, Neb. He was the second of three children born to Guy and Florence Johnson Cooper.
He grew up on the farm and helped with the work while attending country school. He attended Perkins County High School in Grant and graduated in 1937 at the age of 16. He picked corn by hand for two seasons to earn enough money to go to college. He hitchhiked to Lincoln where he attended the University of Nebraska.
While attending college, Elmer had a full-time job at the university’s dairy plant to help with college expenses. While living in Lincoln, he was introduced to Carlotta Carroll at a dance and they were married on Nov. 26, 1942.
Elmer graduated from the university with a degree in dairy science and minors in chemistry and bacteriology. While attending school he enrolled in the ROTC program and entered the U.S. Army during World War II as a 2nd Lieutenant. After basic training he served in Italy in the European Theater. He received two battle stars and the Bronze Star for heroic and meritorious achievement during his time in combat. After his honorable discharge in 1946, he remained active in the Army Reserves and was promoted to captain upon his separation in 1953.
In 1946 Elmer hired on with Fairmont Foods in quality control and educating plant operators in maintaining facilities in order to produce a safe product. The family returned to the farm southwest of Grant in 1949. Elmer worked on the farm until his mid 80s and marveled that a modern combine could pick as much corn in an hour as what he spent in an entire winter picking by hand in his youth.
Elmer and Carlotta moved into Grant in 1991. He maintained his home after Carlotta died in 2001 until 2010 when he moved to Park Ridge Assisted Living. He had developed a malignancy and was transferred to Golden Ours Convalescent Home in November of last year and died at Golden Ours on Thursday morning, May 10, 2012 at the age of 91 (four days short of 92).
Elmer was a life member of the American Legion and V.F.W. He had been a past member and active in the Grant Lions Club and the Ogallala Elks. He developed a passion for walking and participated in the Grant Firecracker Fun Run and Walk at age 90.
In addition to his parents and wife, Elmer was preceded in death by a sister, Ruby Oemke.
He is survived by two daughters, Carol and husband Don Bernhardt of Billings, Mont. and Mary Jo and husband Randy Gengenbach of rural Grant; one son, Jim and his partner Linda Hoffman of rural Grant; three grandsons, Adam Gengenbach of Lincoln, Eric and wife Tori Genegenbach of Grant, and Justin Bernhardt of Wauneta, Neb.; two great-grandchildren, Grant Gengenbach and Olivia Gengenbach; one sister, Mildred Engelke in California, other relatives and friends.
Graveside committal services were held on Monday, May 14, 2012 at the Grant Fairview Cemetery with John Long officiating.
A flag presentation was made by the Perkins County Veterans.
A memorial has been established.
Bullock-Long Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.