A fun family phrase summed up the life of a man who had a heart for his community.
The phrase "Cool cat Cooper now out of circulation" was used at Ron Cooper's funeral where his life was celebrated on September 19 in Waimauku. He died at Taupaki Gables.
The saying was first used in print as a gift to Ron when he married Judy in 1962. He was noted as a nifty dancer and dubbed "Snooper Cooper" after a hit song in the 1950s. For 37 years the couple were married and brought up their children Genelle, Neville and Glenn.
Ronald Edward Cooper was born on April 7, 1927, and grew up in Pt Chevalier, attending Pasadena and Kowhai schools.
His parents bought land in Rayner Rd, Piha, and their family began their lifelong passion and dedication to the Piha Surf Life Saving Club.
Ron became a life member in 1967 for his outstanding years of service including being a gear steward from 1951 to 1955 and club captain from 1957 to 1961. The ace on the surf ski also founded and was the first convener of the nippers from 1950 to 1955.
When out of the water, Ron's working life was mainly in the "rag trade."
He first worked for the Walton's company which set up a new clothing factory in Putaruru which he helped manage. In Putaruru, he also helped set up the first swimming club.
Ron's other sporting interest was rugby, including as a senior rugby referee and mentor to many young players.
As the Cooper family was growing up, Ron was an active member of the New Lynn Lions and Leos.
In his retirement, they swapped the family home in Glendene for a farmlet in Hunters Rd, Taupaki, for just over a decade. In 1997, they moved to Waimauku to stay with his daughter Genelle and son-in-law Brent.
At Waimauku Playcentre where he took his grand-daughter Jessica, he became a legend.
"Pop was everyone's Pop. He would get stuck into fixing anything that was broken, read stories, do the dishes or whatever was required," Genelle says.
His involvement at playcentre lasted about seven years, often as the only male.
"By all accounts he was a joy to have around, brought with him lots of laughter and cheekiness and a different perspective for a lot of the children," Genelle says.
He was presented with a canvas of handprints from the playcentre children when he left and it held pride of place in his lounge for many years. It was one of the few possessions he took in 2007 to Taupaki Gables, aged 80.
His "very happy" five years included his room filled with images of family and friends.
"He continued with the same cheekiness and sense of fun that left a mark on the hearts of the people that he came across," Genelle says.
Ron leaves a lasting legacy to his three children, their partners and grandchildren Jessica and Bianca, Ronan, Seren and Cailin and Farah.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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