|Birth: ||May 17, 1877|
|Death: ||Feb. 15, 1939|
St. Louis City
Lieutenant Ira L. Cooper, of 4404 Enright, expired at his residence of heart failure at 6:30 PM. Additional causes listed were hypertension and complications from diabetes. He was only 61 years of age.
Lt. Cooper who was appointed on June 19Th, 1907. Lt. Cooper would become the first Black Sergeant in 1923 and the first Black Lieutenant in 1930 and commanded a squad of Black Detectives. At the time of his passing he had completed 31 years, 7 months, and 27 days of faithful and dedicated to the Saint Louis Metropolitan Police Department. During his tenure on the department the Lt. had over come many adversities and had also paved the way for many other African Americans to follow in his footsteps. Sadly 75 years later after his death some of these conditions still exist today on the force. Lt. Cooper was highly respected within the Saint Louis Police Department as well as the African American community.
Lieutenant Cooper left to mourn his passing his wife Mrs. Mattie (nee Horton) Cooper of the home. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Elijah J. and Rachel (nee Jenkins) Cooper.
The wake and funeral for Mr. Cooper were held at the Charles J. Gates Funeral Home located at 4107-09 Finney Ave. Burial took place at Washington Park Cemetery on 02/17/1939.
Attempts to locate any additional information or the burial location of his mother was to no avail.
Ira Cooper was probably the most significant African-American police officer of the early history of the
Saint Louis Police Department.
Ira Cooper was a native of New Florence, Missouri, moved with his family to Mexico, Missouri, in 1889 when he was twelve.
In 1907 as one of the "negro specials" and served only the city's black neighborhoods.
Officer Cooper was a college graduate with a degree in ophthalmology.
The degree was received from Northern Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago.
Ira Cooper had come to Saint Louis to practice his profession of medicine dealing with the eye and its diseases.
Ira Cooper decided to join the police department after realizing he had to find another line of work.
During his career he survived racial restrictions imposed on Black Police Officers to solve several important crimes.
In 1924 he solved a $35,000 Mercantile Bank embezzlement scheme concocted by a black porter.
In 1930 he solved the Jacob Hoffman, a bookmaker, kidnapping breaking up a ring of criminal operating in the city.
There were as many as 12 Black specials at one time with the Police Department before 1920.
The number of black police officers was down to six in 1921.
In 1921 the first uniformed black police officers who served Saint Louis started.
In February 1924 there were twenty Black members of the Saint Louis Police Department.
Elijah J. Cooper (1853 - 1941)
Mattie Horton Cooper (1881 - 1943)*
Washington Park Cemetery
St. Louis County
Created by: Timothy Tumbrink
Record added: Nov 23, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 80906843