In memory of
Ross Ellston Cooper
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In memory of
Ross Ellston Cooper
Ross Ellston Cooper January 28, 1934 - March 17, 2017 San Diego - "You are the music while the music lasts." â€" T.S. Eliot One might think Ross Cooper's story a classic 50s San Diego song: Young Navy pilot meets daughter of prominent San Diegan and aviation pioneer Wilber P Larrabee. Ross first arrived in San Diego in 1958, piloting a Grumman C1 into North Island and was known to zip around in his convertible Jaguar up the coast to La Jolla. It was there he first met his wife-to-be, Cynthia Larrabee, beginning a new verse that would take him around the world and back. Ross Cooper's music stopped, fully realized, surrounded by loving family, March 17, 2017. The full story is, of course, richer than that. Ross was Born January 28, 1934 in Toronto, Canada, to Archibald and Olive Cooper. The family moved to Chicago when he was just a baby. Raised there by a courageous single mom advertising executive, he spent his youth as an independent young man, eagerly exploring quintessential Chicago. He'd ride the EL for 3 cents a day to the aquarium, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Riverview amusement park. He began his love affair with baseball watching the Cubs at Wrigley Field. There was a library he visited frequently near his home and a YMCA where he played pool and table tennis. He remembered fondly the summers spent at the Lake Michigan beach. He played golf at Columbus Park for 25 cents a round. The local park was flooded each winter for ice-skating. He played stickball in the alley, where he learned to hit up the middle, because otherwise you'd lose the ball in somebody's backyard. It was wartime, and one couldn't afford new balls very often. He finished high school at Walnut Hills H.S. in Cincinnati, where he played on the baseball team and was an excellent student. He received a full academic scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania. He explained it was because he solved a challenging puzzle in an innovative way. He graduated from Penn in 1955 with a B.S. in Physics, and with a fierce desire to go fast, he enrolled in the Naval Officer Candidate School with an eye toward being a pilot. He would later recall fondly the thrill of flying A-4s low through the empty Mojave Desert and over the surrounding flower-covered hills. After serving as a flight instructor in Pensacola, he was stationed in San Diego. His Navy career ambitions would take him to the Far East aboard the Ticonderoga, to the Post Graduate School in Monterey, where he received his Masters degree, and a tour of Vietnam on the USS Enterprise. While he did not speak often of the war, he was proud of his flight team and the men he served with. He was especially proud of his perfection of a smooth three-point landing in the venerable Model 18 Beechcraft 3-wheeler, a type of landing that had been considered difficult if not impossible to perform. After 22 years, Ross retired from the Navy in 1977, after having served the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations at the Pentagon. He was awarded the Legion of Merit by the Secretary of the Navy. Upon his retirement, the family of 6 moved back to San Diego, spending several weeks driving across the country, exploring and camping along the way. Ross worked for several venerable companies such as SAIC, TRW and Northrup Grumman, where his extensive operational test and evaluation experience, systems engineering skills and technical writing were lauded. He was considered a wonderful friend and mentor by those he worked with. In October of 2005 he retired from Northrop Grumman Corp., ready for the next phase of his life. Though he loved to fly, work did not define his life. Many suggest that one should do what one's passionate about. Ross's philosophy was to be passionate about what one does. He loved math, volunteering to teach math to an adult education class and tutor algebra to high school students. He enjoyed discussing physics, math and engineering with his grandkids. Like many San Diegans, Ross played as hard as he worked. His love of playing baseball endured well into his 80s, pitching in the Men's Senior Baseball League. His fastball had a natural "screwgie" tail to it, flummoxing lefties and righties alike. He played golf, tennis, and basketball regularly. He took the family on ski trips from Pennsylvania to the Sierras. He coached his son's baseball teams, endearing himself to parents by giving all players an opportunity to play. He loved crew and rowed with his son on Mission Bay and became a Life Member of the Mission Bay Rowing Club. He backpacked with his daughter in the Sierras. He played softball on every military base where he was stationed that had a team. He co-organized a weekly basketball game at the San Diego Marine Corp Recruiting Depot that is still going today after 20 years. He loved to win, but appreciated more sportsmanship and "playing the game." To his many friends, colleagues and teammates, he was their hero; they hoped, too, they would be on the field competing into their 80s. Known affectionately by his family as "Dorf", his sparkling intellect and kind, jovial nature remained throughout his life. He effortlessly pulled out a witty, literary phrase, or an arcane fact. He loved music and poetry, quoting T.S. Elliot and Shakespeare and with a wry grin, would loudly sing the sextet from Lucia de Lammermoor, off-key. He had a wonderful sense of humor. He brought smiles to the faces of all who knew him with his amusing stories, "Dorf jokes" and bad puns. He recalled the annoyed beach-front home owner throwing rocks at the seagulls, vowing to "leave no turn un-stoned". Ross Cooper lived a long, fulfilling life. He was a friend and mentor to all he knew and he changed the lives of those around him. He was a terrific husband, father and grandfather. He was "the music" we adored. He will be missed. He is survived by his loving wife of 56 years, Cynthia Larrabee Cooper along with his daughter and three sons; Stephanie Cooper and Jon Medverd of Seattle WA, Brant Cooper of Encinitas, CA, Craig and Sylvie Cooper of La Jolla, CA and Todd Cooper of Ocean Beach, CA., seven grandchildren; Marielle Cooper, Spencer Cooper, Riva Cooper, Eliza Cooper, Max Medverd, Adeline Medverd and Cyrus Medverd. Memorial service will be held at 12:45PM April 25 at Miramar National Cemetery, Nobel Drive, San Diego, CA. A celebration of his life will follow at MCAS Miramar.
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