Kelly Joyce Cooper

December 22, 1967September 18, 2017

Kelly Joyce Cooper

Kelly lost her battle with Leukodystrophy, a rare genetic disorder, on September 18, 2017 at the age of 49 years. She was the oldest known living person with this disease and proudly contributed to worldwide research on the disease and the genome project at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This major disease research is now being done at Tel Aviv University in Israel.

Kelly was raised in Grand Ledge, Michigan, where she lived independently for many years, despite her challenges. She also worked as a volunteer medical assistant at a Lansing nursing home, sharing her positive energy with older adults. More recently she lived at American House of West Bloomfield Michigan. She loved her Lansing church and her church friends continued to love and support her throughout her time of two years in West Bloomfield. She had a passion for helping others ...those with disabilities, seniors, vulnerabilities of any kind and animals. She had a special affinity for Storm, her brother Eric’s dog, who made frequent visits for play time and food treats. She cared about the environment, had a small recycling business and encouraged others to do the same; She loved country music, had a lovely voice, and most recently sang “Take me Home” in front of a small audience, accompanied by her music therapist.

Most remarkable about Kelly was her attitude and unbreakable spirit. Despite her progressive illness and its limitations, she never complained, never asked “why me” and never lost her faith. She was known for her smile, reaching out, time for others, her positive energy, and her quiet and loving way with everyone. Perhaps her mother Patricia said it best: “I think I have finally figured it out……the purpose of Kelly’s life has been to inspire others” ….and that she did…. She lit up a dark room with her smile, she brought hope to others with her courage as she defied the odds every day, and shared her love in countless ways. Kelly has really made a difference in her all too short life and we will carry her legacy with us as a reminder to do our best and be our best every day.

She leaves her parents, Richard Cooper of Waterford and Patricia Teachout of Grand Ledge. She is also survived by her loving siblings, Eric, Seth, Loren, Gabrielle, Susie, Dawn, Jill and her step parents, Harriet Cooper and Richard Teachout. A memorial service will be held at 11:30 AM on October 28, 2017 at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, 7740 W. St. Joe Highway, Lansing Michigan 48917. Memorial tributes may be made to the American Friends of Tel Aviv University at: or mailed to 39 Broadway; Suite 1510 ; New York NY 10006 (Major Leukodystrophy research); or Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, 7740 W. St. Joe Highway, Lansing, MI 48917.


  • Memorial Service Saturday, October 28, 2017

Kelly Joyce Cooper

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Patti Kefalas Dudek

September 25, 2017

Sending my sincere sympathy to you for the loss of the your daughter. I know that you were both inspired to become outstanding advocates for Kelly and others and please know that your efforts to make the world more inclusive are appreciated.

may her memory be eternal