Mom was born May 11, 1921 in Des Plaines, Illinois, the first daughter to Stanley and Mary Eliza Chidley. Mom was 13 years old when the family moved to California and settled in Inglewood where she grew up with her two brothers, Doug and Russell and her younger sister Margie. Mom told stories of her and her brothers playing music outside the local theater to earn the few cents to pay the entry fee to watch a movie. Mom played the Accordion instrument, which she kept all these years and occasionally we would ask her to play for us. Such a large instrument for my petite mother. Graduating from Inglewood High School in 1939 after which she began her extensive career as a legal secretary working for a prominent Judge in Inglewood and later for the City of Inglewood Mayor.
Mom had many friends in her life, but Ginny Maag played a pivotal role to her future. At Ginny's wedding rehearsal to Donald Maag, Don was my Dad's cousin, Mom and Dad met each other as they were in the wedding party, Don's Best Man and Ginny's Bridesmaid. It was love at first sight for they both went home that night and told their parents they had met the one they would marry, which they did in May 1942. Mom and Dad held a lifelong bond in marriage until Dad passed in 1998. Mom was adrift without Dad but with her two sons Mike and Tim and the 6 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren, she was kept busy and accompanied to the day our Lord took her home to be with Dad.
Mom had many professional accomplishments in her life. She was one of first of 20 women nationwide to be certified as a "Professional Legal Secretary", an arduous curriculum of requirements and education to hold that distinction. During World War Two, Mom worked for the War Department (Department of Defense, today) following Dad as he was stationed across the country being readied to ship out to the Pacific Theater. One unique and little known fact was Mom worked in a very highly classified position transcribing formulas and mathematical equations for the "Manhattan Project" the atomic bomb which expedited the end of the war with Japan. If the war had not ended with use of the bomb, Dad was slated to be in the invasion force of the homeland island of Japan where the casualty predictions to American forces was horrendous. Perhaps our future of the Cooper's would have never been.
Mom and Dad loved to take us boys camping in Yosemite and the Sierras. Later they purchased a cabin in Big Bear where we "camped in style" enjoying almost every weekend in the mountains fishing and hiking. What a gift they gave to my brother and me to have such an opportunity for that. Another favorite destination for Mom and Dad was Hawaii. They visited there as often as they could afford bringing us along numerous times and with friends on their many trips. So many memories were made there that are vivid in our minds today.
Mom was a loving and dedicated mother to her two sons. Being a working woman, a professional woman, was not common at that time and her commitments to her profession were ever present. She was able to balance both, which should be a blueprint to today's working mothers. She was ethical, intelligent, vigilant to the needs of the family and friends, and loyal beyond compromise.
After her retirement from the professional field in 1988, Mom settled into home life "working" with Dad in their crafts and arts. Dad would make wooden figures and Mom would paint them into life. She would gift them to all us and would donate many of her "masterpieces" to raise monies for the community hospital where she and Dad volunteered.
Tragedy and loss hit Mom and the family with the unexpected passing of Dad in 1998. Retirement life together lasted but a fleeting moment leaving Mom separate from her true love and companion of over 56 years. My brother returned home to care for Mom and this was of great comfort to her to have Mike there. However, Mike's health began to decline having Mom to become caretaker for him, but giving her a purpose to be strong. Mike passed away in 2007 creating another hole in her heart. Her oldest son gone but there was comfort that he was with Dad playing golf and talking politics waiting for Mom to join them.
Three years ago, Mom fell in the house breaking her hip. The 'hazards of the getting old' she told us. The family rallied and set up a support chain to keep Mom in her house and active. Soon she was up and walking, although slower, she amazed us with her resilience and positive spirit. Her independence was paramount for us to maintain out of respect to her and how she lived her life.
Her strongest desire was to keep the family united and together. She was the matriarch of the Cooper family, the glue and the guidance of pride in family, Country and our Lord. Her grace and character was felt by all that knew her. Mom suffered a heart attack in April 2014 which dealt a severe blow to her. She continued to become weaker physically, but not mentally. Sharp to the last with wit and knowledge, this strong woman blessed us all with 93 years of her company. She left this earth, our Lord taking her Home on June 21, 2014 at 9:00 PM.
She will be missed in our daily lives from this day forth, but we are comforted with the knowledge she is with Dad, her soul mate, my brother Mike, Uncle Doug, Nonnie and Papa, Grandma Jessie and Grandpa Len, Erlene and all our family before us. There she will overlook our time here on earth until the day we can be united together again.
Rest in Peace beautiful lady, you are always in our hearts.