Gerald "Bean" N. Cooper

February 16, 1962 - September 7, 2021
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Farley Funeral Homes and Crematory
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Obituary

It is important that we reflect on these words from Jesus Christ on this day we come together in North Port to celebrate the life of Jerry Cooper.

The apostle Matthew wrote: “When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law, tested him by asking, ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’

“Jesus said: ‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

Jerry Cooper lived these two commandments, especially when it came to service for others. The playing fields in our little corner of paradise weren’t always equal. Jerry did what he could to make sure his children, Jerry and MacKenzie, and his friends’ children were able to compete and have success that other children enjoyed in their schools and on the athletic fields in the neighboring communities of Venice, Sarasota, Englewood, Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda.

Jerry Cooper got involved and then got others involved with him. He led and his friends and their friends followed, much as he did playing football and baseball at Winter Park High School. A member of the Class of 1980, Jerry was named to the school’s athletic Hall of Fame in 2015.

“Jerry was a gifted athlete,” one of his high school coaches, Dr. Roger Dearing, the retired executive director of the Florida High School Athletic Association, recalled. “He was a catcher on the baseball team, and in football, he played offensive guard and defensive tackle. Very seldom do you see more than a handful of players, three or four maybe, go both ways. Jerry’s favorite thing was hitting – he loved to tackle, he loved to go after the quarterback. But he also was the extra-point and field-goal kicker and he also handled kickoffs. Jerry was on the field for almost every play in every game.”

Dr. Dearing recalled kickoff return practices when Jerry would kick the ball off and then go down the field by himself and challenge the blockers for the return man.

“One against 11 – Jerry would try to get to the kick returner,” Dr. Dearing laughed. “He just loved to hit. But off the field, Jerry had a quiet sense of humor. He was a diehard Florida Gator fan – he’s loved the Gators since he was a baby. He was a good friend to have around. He was no-nonsense. He was dedicated.”

That dedication was never more evident than when he and his family settled in North Port in the early 1990s. At the time, North Port was nothing like it is today, a city of more than 66,000, the largest city in Sarasota County. North Port, a mostly rural community sitting well off the Gulf of Mexico, had about 15,000 residents in its 104-plus square miles.

Jerry, with his background in construction, got involved with North Port Little League and the North Port Mustangs, the town’s Pop Warner Football organization.

“Jerry was very passionate about his kids, was a loving father,” his friend Vince Weed remembered. “He wanted to make sure they would succeed and did what he could for them and others. Jerry was the one who spearheaded the construction of the concession stand at ‘Mustang Palace’ he used to call it. It was Jerry who organized it and got us building it. He did all the electrical (stuff) there – for the field, for the scoreboard he donated. He did all of that – the new concession stand, he did a lot of planting (of trees) down there. He was on the Pop Warner board – he committed a lot of time, a lot of his own money.”

When North Port High School opened in 2001 followed by Heron Creek Middle School, Jerry got involved with the schools’ athletic programs, using his electrician skills and his grilling skills – Jerry owned perhaps the biggest barbeque grill in town, and it would often make appearances at North Port Midget Football, North Port Little League and North Port High School fundraising events – to raise much needed funds. Jerry was a member of various booster clubs around town, and the trees which today bloom in the south end zone of the football field and around the outfield fence at the baseball field are there because he planted them and nurtured them.

“Jerry was the silent helper behind the North Port athletics program,” said Sascha Hyer, who was Little Jerry’s head football coach at North Port and now directs the defensive line at Venice High School. “He was a guy who wasn’t looking for any notoriety, but he was always appreciative of a thank you. Since I’ve been gone, I’ve received e-mails from people there for nominations for the North Port Athletics Hall of Fame. I’ve nominated Jerry twice in the booster category. He deserves to be in for everything he’s done.”

Of course, the only Hall of Fame which matters is Heaven. And you can be sure for what he did for others and how he lived his life, Jerry Cooper is in it.

Gerald Cooper was born on February 16, 1962 in Lakeland, Florida, to Richard Gerald Cooper and Margaret E. Klein, who preceded him in death as did his Stepfather Ed Klein, his Aunt Mary Kenn Walker and Uncle Joseph Irwin Cooper. He died on September 7, 2021 in Port Charlotte, Florida.

Surviving is his wife Tracy, his son Jerry Cooper II, his daughter MacKenzie Cooper, his grandchildren Harry and Nora, his stepmother Paula Cooper, his brothers Joe and Fred Cooper and his sister Kelli Williams.

For 26 years, Jerry was the owner and an electrical sub-contractor for Clifton Consolidated Inc. and had been retired for 10 years as he dealt with various health issues.

He was a member of the Free Masons, was the first president of the North Port Baseball Booster Club, was a board member of the North Port Mustangs and the North Port Little League, and was a donor to the North Port High School athletic department.

A “Celebration of Life” will take place on Saturday, October 2 at 11 a.m. at the Farley Funeral Home, 5900 South Biscayne Drive, North Port, Florida.

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Service Schedule

Service Information

Date: Saturday, October 2, 2021

Time: 11:00 am

Farley Funeral Home - North Port

Address:

5900 South Biscayne Drive, , North Port, FL, 34287

 

Life Event Timeline

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Timeline for Gerald "Bean" N. Cooper

Born: February 16, 1962
 
November 14, 2015
WPHS HALL OF FAME INDUCTION
WPHS HALL OF FAME INDUCTION
Died: September 7, 2021

Condolences for Gerald “Bean” N. Cooper

Farley Funeral Homes and Crematory

Our sincere condolences.

The staff of Farley Funeral Homes and Crematory.

 

Michael Fountain posted on 10/17/21

Jerry and I grew up together in Winter Park. He lived very close to me and we use to ride our bikes together to Winter Park Jr high school. We became great friends and teammates and played together on Winter Park Jr Highs undefeated football team. One time during practice Jerry severely hurt his arm and wrist and had to go to the hospital. The next day he returned to practice with a white plaster cast on his arm. It started raining and his cast started to melt away. Coach Dearing became concerned and ordered him off the p field. Jerry rain off the field into the locker room and quickly returned with a clear plastic rapping over his cast. I will never forget the expression of the coaching staff as he ran back on to the field. Jerry loved the game and wouldn't be denied. He was dedicated to his friends and family and loved his wife Tracy. He was a good man and will be missed. Rest in peace Bean.

 

Roger Dearing posted on 9/29/21

I have known Jerry since he was in the 7th grade. I was his math teacher and his football coach. Jerry was a die-hard Gator fan and he loved the game of football. There was nobody who was more dedicated to learning and mastering all of the offensive and defensive lineman techniques. I was the line coach and Jerry played both offense and defense. He was also the defensive captain. There are so many hilarious stories I could tell you about our conversations on the field, discussing our defensive attack strategy, during time outs. He simply loved physical competition. Jerry and I would remain close to one another for the the next 45 years. He was thoughtful and considerate of others. He was proud of his son and daughter and talked about both every time we spoke to one another. When special events would happen in his children’s lives, he would tell me, “I can now check that wish off my bucket list.” I had never seen him happier or more content than when he and Tracy were married in 2016. Although he left this life way too early, it may also have been a blessing due to myriad of the medical challenges he began facing. I loved Jerry, and I will miss our weekly conversations.

 

Cheryl L Cooper posted on 9/28/21

The first time I met Jerry he told me the family called him Bean due in part for his love of jelly beans. He was 13 at that time and he kept me laughing from there on. If you were around him you were either a Gator fan or quickly became one. I can recall going to his high school football games and his mom sitting in the stands praying he didn't get hurt and that his pants stayed on. He brought our 2 sons into his Gator love as 6-8 years of age attending Gator football games. He and Fred use to take them to the beach with them which I found out later they were chick magnets (my oldest . Years later when were remodeling the house in Winter Park I asked my husband why we couldn't move the refrigerator to a different wall because every male who came in from the garage found it necessary to tackle it he told me Bean would be lonely without it. He was as loyal to his friends as he was the refrigerator. My husband Joe , Bean and their Uncle Skip would send text flying in every direction as soon as recruiting season for the Gators started. He loved his children beyond belief . When his sister Kelli became a Gatorette he could always pick her out when they were on the field it was like she can't play football but being a majorette was almost as good. He will be missed by family and friends and hopefully he is hanging in Gator zone with his mom and dad.

 

Tracy L Cooper posted on 9/28/21

Jer-bear was the love of my life. We started our life back in 1972 Lakemont Elementary School in Winter Park, FL. He sat behind me in 4th grade math class and always would pull my pony tail. Later in 5th grade he became my boyfriend, gave me a Mickey Mouse Friendship ring and after the school Fair he was my First kiss. I later received bad advice and broke up with Jerry in 6th grade. This is a decision that I have always regretted. Unfortunately I did not attend the 10 yr reunion of WPHS which turns out was the only reunion that Jerry attended. But I searched for him at every reunion there after. I wanted to let him know that I give him credit for teaching me how to kiss. When Jerry was put into the Hall Of Fame 2015, my friends Mike Fountain and Greta Collins gave Jerry my phone number and told him to contact me. We finally talked, then dated and a year later married 2016. i cherish the 6 years we had together . He was my best husband, my best friend and my partner for life. I will miss him until we meet again. XXOO

 

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