Ellerbe Town Council member dies

Buddy Cooper was 68

By Kevin Spradlin

James “Buddy” Cooper, a longtime public servant with more than 22 years of service to the town and people of Ellerbe, died Friday at FirstHealth Richmond Memorial Hospital in Rockingham. He was 68.

breaking_newsCooper was serving on the Ellerbe Town Council and had previously served as interim mayor after Mayor Olivia Webb resigned and prior to Lee Berry’s election in November 2013. He had attended the February meeting earlier this week.

“It’s a great loss for Ellerbe,” Berry said. “He taught me a lot because he’s been there so much longer than me. He was the one that you could always ask a question.”

Cooper served 21 years on the Town Council and another 18 months as interim mayor.

Berry said Cooper was passionate about the ongoing sewer project and had hoped to see that through before leaving the council. Cooper was up for re-election this November.

Learning of Cooper’s passing, Berry said, “was a real shock.”

Rosann Gerald, town tax collector, said it’s “been a long, hard day” at Town Hall. Gerald was only two years behind Cooper at Ellerbe High School.

“We’ve just been friends for a long, long time,” Gerald said. “We were good sparring partners. He would make a crack … and I took after my dad, and I’ve got a quick wit sometimes (but) he’d come right back to me. “He was a really, really good friend. I just thought the world of him. I’m going to miss him so bad. He’d so anything in the world for you if he could.”

Gerald credited Cooper with having “a level head,” and as someone who took time to think about a situation before speaking — “but he always gave a good answer.”

Gerald said he a Corvette enthusiast — nothing new, though — and once owned a Corvette from about 1969. He also was an avid photographer.

Cooper’s obituary indicated for memorial donations to be sent to the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit veterans service organization that assists military service members who have lost limbs in combat. Cooper was not in the military, but he lost one leg to cancer. Gerald said she believes Cooper felt connected to military veterans through similar loss.

A Maryland native, Cooper was a 1965 graduate of Ellerbe High School and owned Cooper Alliance Repair. He retired from Lowe’s Home Improvement. He is survived by his wife, Irene Smith Cooper, and two daughters, Stephanie Cato, of Hamlet, and Wendy Ammons, of Rockingham.

A memorial service is planned for 6 p.m. Monday in the Ellerbe Chapel of Carter Funeral Home. At the service, Gerald said people can expect to hear music from Smokey Robinson, the Temptations and the Four Tops.

“He loved music,” Gerald said. “He was very quiet. You wouldn’t think he would like some of the music that he liked.”

Berry said he’d talk with council members over the next few weeks in order to determine whether there was a consensus to appoint someone to fill Cooper’s unexpired term on the council.

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  • Wendy Ammons

    Thank you so much for the wonderful article, my Dad would have loved it. Please continue to keep our family in your prayers.

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