Donna Mae Cooper
1930 - 2021
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1930 ˜ 2020

“I recently read that loss makes life more beautiful by giving it meaning and touching us with love we had not felt before. Perhaps the gains are greater than we ever imagined.” Leontina Liebe
Donna Mae Cooper, age 90, went to be with the Lord after a brief battle with cancer late Nov. 2020. She was born in 1930 in Los Angeles to Donald Blauser and Adrianje(Jean) VanderMark. As a teen, Donna moved to Blaine, WA, with her family, and met the love of her life, Jerry Cooper. They were married in 1951, moved to Camas, WA, had three children, moved in her mom (a notoriously good cook), and began a remarkably long and fruitful teaching career. Jerry, a vice principal for Camas School District, preceded her in death in 1970.
For 67 years Donna dedicated her life to the Camas School District as a teacher and counselor. She said she did it because it suited her servant heart, and she truly loved people. Her mind and hands were rarely still. Everyone who met her was drawn to her centered calmness, wicked sense of humor, and infectious smile. She had a rare ability to make people feel comfortable and cared for, and if you brought a problem to her door, she rolled up her sleeves and got to the work of collaboratively solving it. In fact, she helped three generations of Camas kids (and teachers) navigate the tumultuous waters that are high school. When I asked how she was able to work so long, she leaned in, patted my hand and said “I’m not just a pretty face.” Former students (now adults) lined up for an hour to thank her during her 50th year CSD gala. Although gracious, she was distracted, waiting for her beloved Tom Selleck to show up. We think he didn’t show because he would have been out shined by Donna.
Mom was a dedicated mother first and foremost. She treasured her children and embraced every moment with them. She especially loved her role as Grandma. She had a welcoming personality, and always made people around her smile. Donna made friends everywhere, and people never forgot her. She was a beautiful combination of a grounded soul who had an honest understanding of life, and a grasp of what was important the simplicity of living a life with those you love, doing what you love.
Mom was deeply spiritual, and embraced and leaned into her faith with her entire being. She was confirmed in the Catholic Church when she was in her 40’s, and served as a Eucharistic minister for many years at St Thomas Aquinas church. Donna enjoyed taking communion to the homebound weekly, with her dear friend Jean Carpenter. Donna’s life was a living example of one of her favorite Bible verses, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13
She took great solace in the Word, and was greatly comforted by daily conversations with her loving and devoted friend, Linda Anderson. Mom told me Linda gave a new meaning to the word “friend”. “She was my personal shopper for everything from groceries to greeting cards. We shared lunch and dinner often, and she encouraged me to laugh, swim, and generally made a daily pest of herself, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I don’t know what I would have done without her, and thank God I never had to find out.”
To say Mom loved to read is an understatement: she devoured a book like no one I have known before. At one point, she had over 4000 books in her house. “There’s always room for a bookcase”, she would say with a wink. Reading piqued her curiosity, and Donna was an avid international traveler because of it. With the help of her lavish teaching salary, she enjoyed time with family in France, Italy, Greece, Lithuania, Amsterdam, Mexico and Canada, plus most of the states.
Donna is survived by her brother, Walt and his wife Patsy; her in-laws Tom and Sally Cooper; her three children and their spouses, Mark and Patty Cooper, Gayle and Del Davis, Brooks and Kim Cooper; five grandchildren, Michelle, Rachel Mary, Traci, Riley, Halsey; and eight great-grandchildren. All of these she loved and touched deeply, and were the centerpiece of her life.
“She took a chance on a 16 year old high school student. Donna taught me work ethic, integrity, professionalism, and that it is OK to be human. She instilled confidence in me as a young girl and spoke highly of me to others, which resulted in me getting a job at the school district at the age of 18. Who does that? Who sees a 16 year old, takes them under their wing, and molds them into a better human? Donna.” Shanna Michelle
Due to COVID regulations, at this time there will not be a public memorial service. Charity donations in the name of Donna Cooper can be made to The Cancer Society, Peace Health Hospice, St Thomas Aquinas church, Camas School District, Camas Public Library, or The Humane Society.
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Published in The Columbian on Mar. 21, 2021.
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