Douglas Hamilton Cooper

August 6, 1927 - June 6, 2018


A memorial service will be held at Trinity Episcopal Church in Ossining NY at 10am on Saturday June 30th.
In lieu of flowers, donations are encouraged to the SPCA of Westchester or to your local “no kill” animal shelter.
Funeral arrangements were handled by Dorsey Funeral Home, Inc. in Ossining.

Douglas Hamilton Cooper
August 6, 1927 - June 6, 2018
Douglas Hamilton Cooper was born August 6, 1927 in Mount Vernon, NY, the only child of Nina Douglas Cooper and Jesse VanCleft Cooper, both musicians. Jesse was organist at the Rivoli Theatre in NYC and both were professional church musicians, Nina as a singer.
Doug’s parents had enjoyed many summer and winter trips to the White Mountains in New Hampshire. In 1929 when Doug was 2 years old they began renting an old log cabin in Jackson, NH for a month each summer. The trip by car then took two days since the interstate highways hadn’t been created. They purchased the cabin in 1939 (Doug was never sure how they did it) and continued to retreat in the White Mountains, enjoying many hikes as a family. Dear family friends were the Mortons of North Conway (George was the inventor of the Skimobile). Doug shared many stories of Jackson sites and people – it was a second home for him, and he remembered many occasions on the porch looking west to Mount Washington.
Doug was a singer, too, and sang in the choir at Church of the Ascension in Mount Vernon, where his mother also sang and served on the altar guild, and his father was the organist.
Doug attended Mount Vernon public schools from their home on 5th Avenue.
During the Great Depression Doug recalled that his family never seemed to lack; in fact they had other aunts and uncles live with them, and always had enough food to share after a meal with people who would come to the back door for assistance. This generosity was something he carried with him, despite being a “Depression baby” and experiencing war rationing. A phrase he repeated for years was “use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without.”
Following graduation from A. B. Davis High School in 1945, he served in the US Navy and was demobilized as World War II ended.
He attended Oberlin College, graduating in 1950 with a BA in Spanish. Oberlin Conservatory of Music had accepted Doug, but he was sure he would attend The Juilliard School. The latter did not accept him and Oberlin Conservatory had given his place to another, so he attended Oberlin College and majored in Spanish, while studying music, too.
He served in the US Air Force during the Korean War, not because he wanted to, but because his Navy career had been a few days shy of the 12 months of full service and Uncle Sam “invited” him to re-enlist. He was proud of his service and joked that the furthest he ever was from home during service in either branch was a desk in Washington DC or Mitchell Field on Long Island.
It was at Mitchell Field that Doug noticed North Conway NH on the papers for a serviceman he was processing. It was Briggs Bunker. Many years later they would attend church and sing in the choir together at Christ Church Episcopal in North Conway.
After release from active duty, Doug began teaching at the Southern Arizona School for Boys in Tucson. He loved the desert, and particularly the drives on Route 66.
He returned to their home on Wolf’s Lane in Pelham Manor, where the family had moved, to help his mother care for his father after a debilitating stroke. Following an interim year at the McBurney School in Manhattan, he joined the faculty at St. Luke’s School, New Canaan CT.
He returned to college for graduate work, receiving an MA in Spanish from Middlebury College in Vermont in 1963. He was awarded a Fulbright Grant for summer study in Spain in 1967.
At St. Luke’s Doug taught Spanish, and occasionally French, was the Foreign Language Department Head for a time, and enjoyed his years as a college counselor, helping students and their families chose a school for college or university studies. A highlight of his academic career were the foreign language and culture immersion trips he led with the students to Spain.
Doug retired in 1992 after 35 years at St. Luke’s School.
Doug was a paid singer in churches, primarily Christ Church Pelham NY, and at Temple Israel of New Rochelle NY where he was privileged to serve under Cantor Helene Reps.
Also, following his father’s career as a crossword puzzle author for several New York daily newspapers, Doug was a crossword puzzle editor for the Associated Press News features syndicate.
Doug’s time to recharge was during summers in Jackson, and after retirement he spent weeks and months in the mountains. He celebrated his 89th birthday at the cabin.
He is survived by William Cruse and John Deuel, whom he called his “surrogate sons.” The three met in 1994. They discovered they lived in Pelham Manor and shared many interests, including classical music and the Episcopal Church. The friendship quickly grew deeper as he began to travel from Pelham to Ossining each week to sing in the church choir with John and Bill at Trinity Church. In the summer of 1998 Doug went with Bill to England and Wales when Bill was part of a choir in residence at Ely and Llandalf Cathedrals. The two were joined by Bill’s mother for a trip to Paris via the Chunnel Train. As they prepared to relocate to Ossining in 1999, they all wanted to maintain that closeness, and they bought a house together when the opportunity presented itself.
Over the years they shared their historic home on Cedar Lane, and their little grouping became a family. John and Bill’s summer visits to Doug when he was at the cabin in New Hampshire became full-time summer migrations. Their summer church home became Christ Church, North Conway, and the summer chapel, Church of the Transfiguration, Bretton Woods. Trips to Bill's family in Ohio or John’s family in Texas became trips that all three took together - as a family. Doug helped John to gain a greater appreciation for classical opera by sharing Anna Russell’s “Synopsis of the Ring” before they attended Wagner’s Ring Cycle at the Met, all in one week. And John helped Doug with computers, particularly when the crossword business entered the computer age. Bill was Doug’s favorite chef and gardener.
Doug shared his family history with Bill and John, introducing them to members of his extended family, including cousins John and Annick Impert; Carl and Nancy Cooper; and Laura Impert and Steven, Will, and Nina Germain.
Always much younger-looking than his driver's license said he was, Doug’s age did eventually catch up to him. As this happened, and the medical events became more frequent, interacting with staffs at hospital, assisted living, and nursing facilities exposed his dry wit and good manners as well as the closeness of his ‘family of choice.’
Doug was a wise, kind, clever, witty and charming man who helped many learn much over his 90 years. He died 2 months shy of his 91st birthday in Ossining on June 6, 2018.
A memorial service will be held at Trinity Episcopal Church in Ossining NY at 10am on Saturday June 30th.
In lieu of flowers, donations are encouraged to the SPCA of Westchester or to your local “no kill” animal shelter.
Funeral arrangements were handled by Dorsey Funeral Home, Inc. in Ossining.

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