Grady Cooper Jr.
November 29, 1925 – June 1, 2021
Grady Cooper, Jr. passed away peacefully at home on Tuesday, June 1, 2021. He was born in Dobson, North Carolina on November 29, 1925 to Grady Cooper, Sr and Zella Blessing Cooper.
One of five children, Grady grew up on a dairy and cattle farm and learned many lessons about love, loyalty and hard work. Growing up, Dobson United Methodist Church was a central part of his life. He also enjoyed being a Boy Scout and a thespian during his high school years, acting in many plays. He adored his parents and siblings and loved any reason to return to his hometown to visit family and friends. He met his lifelong best friend, A.C. Snow, in sixth grade and they always remained close, even building houses blocks from each other in the same neighborhood in Raleigh.
In 1942, at 16, Grady was bound for college at UNC-Chapel Hill. World War II was underway and he soon enlisted and served in the U.S. Army in the European Theatre in the 101st and 82nd Airborne Infantry Divisions. While in the Army, he was in communications, where he learned Morse code and earned the rank of Sergeant. He was stationed in Germany, France and Italy while serving his country as replacement troops after the Battle of the Bulge and disarmament of Nazi Germany, which included confiscating Eagle’s Nest at Berchtesgaden after the Royal Air Force raid in 1945.
After returning home from the war, Grady graduated with a BS in Commerce from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1949. He loved his days at Chapel Hill and would return often, taking his family on a tour of campus, by the Old Well, his first dorm, Old East and visits to Julian’s. After college, he returned to the family farm to work with his father. Grady had considerable bookkeeping skills, which were discovered on a visit by Mr. Sheffield of the Department of Agriculture. He encouraged young Grady to apply for a job in Raleigh with his department. In 1950, he was hired as a marketing specialist in the Milk Audit Section. In 1953, he became the Assistant Secretary of the North Carolina Milk Commission and from 1971 to 1990 served as the Executive Secretary of the Milk Commission. He contributed significantly to the promotion of milk products in the state by coordinating the sale of milk at the NC State Fair and organizing legislative events with the NC Legislature. He held leadership roles as President of the International Association of Milk Control Agencies and Chairman of the Southeastern Milk Stabilization Council. In addition, he was awarded Grange Man of the Year in 1979. He enjoyed all of his many friendships with colleagues.
Grady got the travel bug early, while visiting the Chicago World’s Fair as a young boy with his father. Grady’s bachelor days were spent globe-trotting with his good buddy, Dr. Banks Talley. Two of their most memorable trips were island hopping in the Caribbean and driving Banks’ Thunderbird to Manhattan. Grady also enjoyed his annual family summer vacations and Milk Producers conventions that took Grady and his family all over the country, including Puerto Rico and Canada.
While enjoying his bachelor days, Grady was introduced by his friends Fred and Lucille Martin to the beautiful neighbor “that lived upstairs”, Miss Elizabeth “Lib” Parsons. Grady and Lib began dating and he proposed to Lib at the Duke Gardens. They were married in 1959 in Raleigh. Soon after, he designed and built his forever home for his new family in Brookhaven.
Grady was involved in Democratic party politics, supporting many local statewide and national political candidates. Most notably, when Lieutenant Governor Robert W. Scott decided to run for governor, his Kitchen Cabinet needed a headquarters and Grady offered the basement of his home. They would meet after work each day and work through the night to elect Governor Scott. The Kitchen Cabinet members supported Scott through his term as governor and remained friends for life, enjoying many celebrations, including an annual New Year’s Day party, which Grady and Lib often hosted at their home. Through this group, they met two of their dearest friends, Ann and George Smart.
Grady was also very active in the community including involvement in PTAs at his children’s schools, and serving as PTA President at J.W. York Elementary. He was a patron of the arts and supported many organizations, including the NC Symphony and the Raleigh Little Theatre.
Grady was a member of Edenton Street United Methodist Church and the Foundry Fellowship Sunday school class for nearly 60 years. Over the years Grady served in many church capacities including the Administrative Board, Staff-Parish Committee, Stewardship Committee, Counting Committee, History Committee and was a lay shepherd and Sunday school teacher. He also loved greeting prospective members and encouraging them to join.
After retiring from the NC Milk Commission, Grady managed family properties in Surry County, served on the Loan Review Committee of the State Employees’ Credit Union for 20 years and actively participated in grassroots politicking for various Democratic candidates. Grady was a proud North Carolinian and was dedicated to serving the state through his work and civic life. Grady was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine by Governor James Hunt in 1990.
Grady was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. He was his children’s great cheerleader, always up for an adventure and never short on sage advice. He loved spending time with his neighbors too, and many became some of his closest friends, especially Fred and Kat Hamlin and later their grandson and his family, Will, Jane and Drake Hamlin.
Grady is survived by his wife of 62 years, Elizabeth Parsons Cooper; daughter, Caroline Cooper Lamm and her husband, Kent, of Charlotte, NC; son, Grady Cooper III, of Studio City, CA; grandchildren, Ellen Cooper, Audrey Cooper and Cooper Lamm; brother, John Cooper, of Pittsboro, NC; and sisters-in-law, Susie Jones of Wilmington, NC and Sylvia Parsons of Santa Rosa, CA. He is also survived by nephews Grover Dobbins and wife, Martha, Daniel Dobbins and wife Angie, Stephen Cooper and wife, Mary, Samuel Cooper and partner, Larry Hazelwood, Vann Cooper and wife, Harvi, and nieces, Susan Jones, Martha Jones and Rebecca Kays and husband, Noah. Grady is also survived by many great and great-great nieces and nephews.
His parents, beloved aunts and uncle, Viola Sinclair, Leila Cooper and Joe Cooper, sisters, Mary Dobbins and husband, Grover, Eleanor Cooper, Carolyn Comer and husband, Frank, brother-in-law, John Jones, nephew, David Dobbins, daughter-in-law, Jane Cooper, predeceased him.
The family would like to thank the many friends who supported Grady during his final years, including A.C. and Nancy Snow, Fran Preston, Dr. Roger Elliott, Jane and Will Hamlin, Dr. William and Colleen Lee, Ginger and Al Lockamy, Willie Wright, Es’dorn Westbrook, Ann Faust, Leslie and Ed Coman, Dr. John and Molly Chiles and Kim Dittmann. The family would also like to thank Grady’s Dream Team for their loving care - Dr. James Parsons, Jacqueline Satterwhite, Beatrice Royster, Mam Badeh Saine, Evette Wade, Italy Landry, Shronda Wall, Alieu Sanneh, Gertrude Ndow, Helen Henderson, Aiesha Darboe, Jennifer House, Demi Davis, Priscilla Blanks and the entire staff at The Oaks at Whitaker Glen, as well the staff at Transitions LifeCare.
A memorial service will be held at Edenton Street United Methodist Church on Wednesday, July 14th at 2:30 pm. A reception will immediately follow the service in The Garden Gallery at the church.
A private interment for the family will be held at Dobson Town Cemetery at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Edenton Street UMC, 228 W Edenton St, Raleigh, NC 27603 or to Dobson United Methodist Church, 204 S Main St, Dobson, NC 27017.
Services provided by Brown-Wynne, 300 Saint Mary's St., Raleigh, NC.
- Edenton Street UMC
Dobson United Methodist Church
204 Main St. , Dobson, North Carolina 27017
Memorial Service with a reception to follow
Edenton Street United Methodist Church
A reception will immediately follow the service in The Garden Gallery at the church
Grady Cooper Jr.
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Carolyn M Comer
June 9, 2021
It was an honor to know Mr Cooper, such a gentleman. Mr Cooper was a friend to all who knew him. I worked in the Register of Deeds office in Surry County for 44 years and he never failed when in town to frequent the office. At that time Of course we always had a chance to politic a little too together and get the latest news. I met Mr Cooper thru my husbands family “The Comers”.
Mr Cooper and his family certainly left their mark here in his home town of Dobson and certainly in Raleigh too. RIP Grady will miss you .
Carolyn M Comer
Mary Ann Bass
June 8, 2021
Thoughts and Prayers to all the family. They don’t make many”Grady Cooper’s “ anymore, He was a Good Man..
June 7, 2021
Grady and caroline my heart is broken for you. Your dad was a big piece of my life. I loved working for the milk commission 20 plus years and babysitting y’all from time to time. Heaven has a new Angel. I send my love and sympathy.
June 7, 2021
We are so sad to hear of this loss and will keep you all in our thoughts and prayers. Sunday School classes and the milk booth at the State Fair will always bring fond memories.
Patsy and Marva Watkins
June 5, 2021
Lib and Family,
My thoughts and prayers for courage, faith, and peace are with you as you cope with Grady’s death.