Martin Funeral Home - Elk City
600 W. Country Club
Elk City, OK 73644
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JOHN WEST Obituary
September 7, 1916 - August 4, 2014 ELK CITY Funeral services for John Cooper West will be conducted on Friday, August 8, 2014, at 11:00 a.m. at the First Baptist Church of Elk City. Rev. Danny Ringer will officiate. Interment will be in the Fairlawn Cemetery, Elk City, Oklahoma under the direction of the Martin-Dugger Funeral Home. John Cooper West was born to Mae (Mary Cooper) and G.R. West on the family farm in Duke, Oklahoma on September 7, 1916 and passed away at the age of 97 on August 4, 2014. Cooper was the fourth of seven children. He was raised throughout western Oklahoma as his father, a Southern Baptist minister and farmer, moved to different churches in Weatherford, Putnam City, Granite, Enid, and Port. Cooper graduated from Port High School in western Washita County, where he held various jobs to pay for school expenses including driving a school bus. In 1938, he earned an economics degree and a teacher's certificate at Northwestern State College (now Northwestern Oklahoma State University) in Alva. At college he played football and basketball and ran track, holding up to three concurrent jobs (including as a baker and lifeguard) to help cover his expenses. These were the challenging "Dust Bowl" years that forced many to leave Oklahoma - as memorialized by John Steinbeck in "The Grapes of Wrath" - and strengthened The Great Depression. Cooper married the former Gladys Thelma Webb on December 24, 1937, during their senior year in college. After graduating in 1938, they moved to Woodward. Cooper joined the Zenith Gas Company and rose to assistant manager. During this time, he and Gladys also operated a coffee shop in the Woodward Hotel, and bought, remodeled, and resold houses in Woodward. In 1944, Cooper joined the World War II effort by enlisting in the United States Navy. He attended Officer's Candidate School in Florida, graduated as an Ensign, and was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade. He served in the Pacific Theater including Iwo Jima and Okinawa. After the surrender of Japan on September 2, 1945, he was among the first American military personnel to enter Japan. Following his discharge from the Navy in 1946, Cooper, Gladys, and their two children - Gail and John - moved to Elk City, where Nancy, their third child, was born. In Elk City, Cooper and Gladys established the Cooper West Agency, which sold insurance, homes, and real estate, and later entered oil & gas and minerals leasing. Their business activities over time included investments in oil and gas ventures, homebuilding and land development, farming, and banking. A life-long resident and enthusiastic supporter of the economic development of Oklahoma, in 1963, he joined the Oklahoma State Highway Commission and served for eight years under Governors Henry Bellmon (Cooper was a close friend and early campaign supporter) and Dewey Bartlett. In 1989, he joined the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents and twice served as Vice Chairman during his seven year appointment, which bridged the administrations of OU Presidents Richard Van Horn and former Governor and United States Senator David Boren (who Cooper helped recruit to the Norman campus from Washington, DC). Cooper was active in many educational and community endeavors including the First Baptist Church of Elk City, the Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children and Boys Ranch Town, the Elk City Golf and Country Club, the Western Oklahoma Historical Society (a Hall of Fame member), the Oklahoma Historical Society (where he and Gladys funded The West Family Wing), the Elk City Rotary Club and Park, the development of Old Town Museum and Elk City Lake, the expansion of Ackley Park, and many others. Gladys and Cooper traveled extensively throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. In Elk City, they loved hosting their extended family and wide circle of friends in their warm home and at their nearby farm for quail hunting, fishing, and relaxing in the picnic area, under Cooper's favorite shade trees. For one entire summer, for example, they hosted the nephew of President Valery Giscard d'Estaing of France, who was interested in seeing the American West. With an exemplary work ethic, Gladys and Cooper regularly visited their offices until February 2012, when they were 95. Everyone loved Cooper's infectious smile, bright optimism, fun sense of humor, and effortless ability to - irrespective of the situation - always make them feel better about themselves. He enjoyed a full and exciting life, made a positive impact on Elk City and Oklahoma, and served as a role model for his family and many friends. Cooper was preceded in death by his wife of almost 75 years, Gladys Thelma Webb West, on June 21, 2012; his parents, Mae (Mary Cooper) and G. R. West; all six of his brothers and sisters, Paul West, Grace West Hays, Clovis West, Eddie West, Jane West Benich, and Stan West; a daughter- in-law, Teree Elizabeth West; and a grandson, John Cooper West III. Cooper's youngest brother Stan West also served in the United States Navy in the Pacific Theater during World War II. After the war, Stan was a 1949 All-American defensive tackle at the University of Oklahoma under Coach Bud Wilkinson and OU's first NFL first round draft selection. With the Los Angeles Rams, Stan played on the 1951 NFL Championship team and two Pro Bowls. He later played for the New York Giants and the Chicago Cardinals. Cooper West's survivors include three children, Gail West Moore and her husband Donald Lee Moore of Kingwood, TX and Chapel Hill, NC, John Cooper West, Jr. of Elk City and Oklahoma City, Nancy West Menees and her husband Gerald Menees of Dallas, TX and Castle Rock, CO; five grandchildren, Jeffrey Lee Moore and his wife Susan Wiggins Moore of Locust Valley, NY, Stacey Moore Towning and her husband Gary Towning of Chapel Hill, NC, Jay Edwin West of Los Angeles, CA, Anne Menees and her husband Manny Jones of Castle Rock, CO, Andrew Menees and his wife Tina Le Menees of Dallas, TX; and twelve great grandchildren, Madeline and Isabella Towning, Sallie Bell, Mary Cooper, and Jeffrey Lee Moore, Jr., Quinton Ryan West-Beal and Ronald Edwin West-Beal, Brooke and Cooper Menees, and Madison, Michaela, and Dillon Jones. For their attentive care, impressive dedication, good cheer, and tireless devotion to Gladys and Cooper, the family would like to thank and acknowledge the following care givers, Nadine Belsher, Candi Case, Donna McGee, Doris Cummings, and Comforting Hands Hospice. Memorial contributions in John Cooper West's name may be made to: The First Baptist Church of Elk City or The Meals on Wheels Program of Elk City, in care of Martin-Dugger Funeral Home, 600 W. Country Club Blvd., Elk City, Oklahoma 73644. Online condolences can be sent to the family by using the online guest book at www.martin-duggerfuneralhome.com www.martin-duggerfuneralhome.com
Published in The Oklahoman on Aug. 6, 2014
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