John Alfred Cooper, Jr., 74, of Bella Vista, Arkansas died January 6, 2013. He was born September 13, 1938 in Memphis, Tennessee, to John Alfred Cooper and Mildred Borum Woollard Cooper and spent his youth in West Memphis, Arkansas.
He was a graduate of Christian Brothers High School in Memphis Tennessee with a post graduate year at Marion Military Institute in Marion, Alabama. He attended the University of Arkansas where he majored in business and was a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity. He later served in the Air Force National Guard and was called for active duty during the Pueblo Crisis. He joined his father's company, The Cherokee Village Development Company, which over the years converted to Cooper Communities, Inc. He was elected President in 1968 and Chairman of the Board in 2002, a position he occupied at his death. Through his leadership the company developed planned retirement communities across the Southeastern United States including Arkansas communities of Cherokee Village, Bella Vista Village and Hot Springs Village; Tellico Village in Tennessee; Savannah Lakes Village in South Carolina; Glade Springs in West Virginia and Stonebridge Village and Creekmoor in Missouri. Cooper Communities, Inc. is also a developer of vacation ownership resorts and commercial properties throughout the region.
Mr. Cooper served on the boards of Walmart, J. B. Hunt Transport Company , Entergy, Arkla Gas Company, Arkansas Power and Light, Union Planters Bank, and Worthen Bank Holding Company. He was a founding member of the Arkansas Business Council and Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel Foundation.
He was honored as a 1998 recipient of the Sam Walton Award, presented by the Bentonville/Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce. An avid sportsman and hunter, he loved the outdoors and was a charter member of the Arkansas Nature Conservancy Board of Trustees and served on that board from 1983 until 1986. The Arkansas Nature Conservancy recognized him in 1994 for his leadership role in the Arkansas Corporate Council for Conservation. In 2003, that organization honored Mr. Cooper by establishing The Cooper Family Conservation Award. The award is presented annually to a business, organization or individual who has made outstanding contributions to conservation in Arkansas. As a lifelong philanthropist to many causes he was instrumental in providing property for the Bella Vista library, The Nature Conservancy, numerous community parks and recreation projects, and through Cooper Communities, Inc. donated locations for over 50 churches and 5 schools.
Survivors include Pat, his wife of 47 years, a daughter, Mary Virginia Cooper Reid of Dallas, Texas and Aspen, Colorado, two sons, John A. Cooper, III, and Borum M. Cooper and wife Jamie Mayes Cooper, all of Rogers, Arkansas, and two grandchildren, Cooper McInnis Reid and Mary Tarver Reid of Dallas, Texas and Aspen, Colorado. Other survivors include two sisters, Boyce Woollard Billingsley of Bentonville, and Rebecca Cooper Whelan and husband John of Hot Springs. He was preceded in death by a sister, Ann Woollard Basore.
Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, January 10 at the First United Methodist Church in Bella Vista, Arkansas, under the direction of Rollins Funeral Home of Rogers, Arkansas, with Senator Kaneaster Hodges officiating.
Memorials may be made to The Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel Foundation, P.O. Box 5001, Bella Vista, Arkansas 72714, The Arkansas Nature Conservancy, 601 North University, Little Rock, Arkansas 72205, and Delta Water Fowl, P.O. Box 3128, Bismarck, ND 58502. www.rollinsfuneral.com