|Birth: ||Aug. 22, 1923|
|Death: ||Oct. 12, 2012|
WORLD WAR II
Donald Edwin Cooper – family man, lumberjack, filmmaker, adventurer – of DeBorgia [*De Borgia], passed away Friday, Oct. 12, 2012, at Highgate Senior Living in Bozeman.
He was 89 years old. Born Aug. 22, 1923, to George Rupert and Bertha Marie (Anderson) Cooper at the old homestead in De Borgia, Don was raised there along with his older brother and best friend, Dennis. After graduating from St. Regis High School, Don worked for several years in the family logging operation in western Montana before being called to duty to serve in the U.S. Army in the Philippines and Japan during World War II.
After his military service, in which he was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star for bravery, Don returned to western Montana to revive the family logging business, opening sawmills in several locations throughout Mineral County. Don would continue to log for many more years throughout Montana, but his sense of adventure soon took him to the logging camps of Alaska and deep jungles of Peru in South America.
It was in Alaska that Don received his big break. Having received a 16 mm movie camera from a logging buddy as collateral for a $75 loan (which was never paid back!), Don began filming his "workplace," which consisted of some of the most beautiful scenery and abundant wildlife that North America has to offer. During this time, Don often spent more time behind a camera than a chain saw.
A fortuitous meeting with a Hollywood producer stranded in a remote logging camp in Alaska's Inside Passage led to an appearance on TV's "Bold Journey," as well as, Don's first ever travelogue presentation at the Beverly Hills Women's Club in 1958. This was the beginning of an award-winning career in travel adventure films. Don won the National Geographic "Travelogue of the Year" Award a record 12 times and was presented with a lifetime achievement award from the "Travel Adventure Cinema Society" upon his retirement at the age of 75. However, as Don would always say, his greatest achievement was his family. Don met the love of his life, Ruth Lloyd, in 1965 while entertaining a travelogue audience in Oshawa, Ontario. Together, Don and Ruth made their home in De Borgia, where they raised two sons – Matthew and Michael – while traveling the world filming their adventures and sharing them with audiences across North America.
Known as much for his humor as his filmmaking, Don's performances never failed to fill the halls with laughter and his performances were often booked three years in advance. However, despite all the adventures and traveling, he and his family always returned to the homestead in western Montana, where he would spend his day searching for the next great load of firewood and spending time with his sons fishing and exploring the great outdoors. Don always told his grandchildren that if they kept smiling they would go far in life, and that laughter was the key to happiness.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Dennis. Survivors include his wife, Ruth of Bozeman; two sons, Matthew (Lynze) of Bozeman and Michael (Yvonne) of Zurich, Switzerland; four grandchildren, Peyton and Austin of Bozeman and Nicholas and Siri of Zurich, Switzerland; three nieces, Karen Simons of Billings, Jan Cooper of Bozeman and Sue (Tom) Ward of Bozeman; and numerous great-nieces and great-nephews.
A graveside service with military rites will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, at the De Borgia Cemetery followed by a celebration of his life.
Memorials may be made in his name to West End Volunteer Fire Department in De Borgia, the De Borgia Cemetery and Hospice c/o Bozeman Deaconess Foundation.
Even in his latter years, Don would always refer to himself as a lumberjack from Montana.
- Source: Missoulian | 17 Oct 2012.
*NOTE: De Borgia spelling is corrected for the remainder of transcription.
George Rupert Cooper (1879 - 1948)
Bertha Marie Anderson Cooper (1887 - 1941)
George Dennis Cooper (1919 - 1997)*
Donald Edwin Cooper (1923 - 2012)
De Borgia Cemetery
Created by: Annie Duckett Hundley
Record added: Oct 18, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 99118875