Kenneth Stewart Cooper 1915 - 2011 Fircrest, Wash.
Paid family tribute
Kenneth S. Cooper, 96, of Fircrest, Washington, passed away on June 2, 2011.
Ken was born on June 23, 1915, in Kansas City, Missouri, the first child of Kenneth Caleb Cooper and Margaret Stewart. The family moved to Chicago, Illinois, and Ken attended Roosevelt School for his elementary education, and graduated from Englewood High School in June, 1932. Ken initially went to work for Santa Fe Railroad System as an electrician (for 35 cents per hour!). He was transferred to San Francisco and managed to find time to take engineering classes at Cal Berkeley.
In 1940 he heard of the Civilian Pilot Training Corps Program, and applied for this government-funded program. He was accepted into the program and he earned his pilot’s license in 1941. Shortly thereafter, he was recruited to fly for the Royal Canadian Air Force, which was desperately seeking American recruits to assist in the war against Germany. After Pearl Harbor Ken transferred his commission to the U.S. Navy and flew a variety of service and combat aircraft from air stations throughout the country and overseas. In August 1945, when Japan surrendered, Ken was training his PB4Y Navy bomber crew for participation in the potential invasion of Japan.
In late August 1945, he was released from active duty and was soon hired to fly for Transcontinental and Western Airlines (TWA) based in San Francisco. In 1946, he met Norma Walter, then working as a radio operator at TWA’s base , and they were married soon thereafter. In late 1946 he was hired by Trans-Pacific Airlines, and he and Norma moved to Honolulu. During this period Ken had elected to remain active in the Navy Reserves. In 1948, Trans-Pacific was forced to furlough a large number of their pilots, and Ken was included in this number. Shortly thereafter he heard that the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) was hiring experienced pilots, so he applied and was hired, and was assigned initially to Washington DC. In July 1951, with the start of the Korean War, he returned to active duty with the Navy and was assigned to Moffett Field, California. After the Korean War ended, Ken returned to his job with the FAA in Washington, DC. Over the next thirty years working as an FAA Flight Standards Inspector/Administrator, Ken and the family were transferred in successive moves to Chicago, Illinois; Saigon, South Vietnam; Manila, Philippine Islands; Kansas City, Kansas; Anchorage Alaska; and Atlanta, Georgia. While he was assigned to Saigon, advising the South Vietnamese Civilian Aviation Agency, the Navy recalled to him to active duty for service in a third national conflict.
In 1981, while they were living in Atlanta, Norma lost a long battle with cancer and Ken retired from the FAA. During some cross-country travels Ken reconnected with an old friend, Margaret Burrington, in Tacoma, Washington, and they were married on March 11, 1982, and settled in Fircrest, just outside of Tacoma. Ken and Marge traveled extensively and enjoyed retirement in the Pacific Northwest. Ken was an avid reader throughout his life, and he became addicted to watching old movies on cable in his later years.
Ken was a member of the Association of Naval Aviation and the FAA Flight Standards Retiree Group.
Ken is survived by his wife Marge; by his three sons, Mike and his wife Annemieke, of Redwood City, California, Jim and his wife Sandy of Lawrence, Kansas, and Tom and his wife Rhonda of Carrolton, Georgia; his stepson, Greg Burrington and his wife Nancy of Graham, Washington; three grandchildren, Stewart and his wife Kim of Lawrence, Kansas, Veronica of San Diego, California, and Kaycee of Puyallup, Washington; and two great-grandchildren, Marguerite and Patsy of Lawrence, Kansas.
This information was provided to the Journal-World as a paid tribute.