Ralph Eugene Cooper, 90, Warsaw, passed away at 10:32 a.m. July 25, 2016 at Kosciusko Community Hospital of Warsaw.
He was born April 10, 1926, in Paducah, Ky. and was one of five sons of William and Mary Bell Cooper. He is survived by two sons: Dr. Ralph W. Cooper (Cathy Waugh), Bowling Green, Ky.; and Gary R. Cooper (Shayna), Warsaw.
Survivors also include one brother: Marcus (Opal) Cooper, Paducah, Ky.; and four grandchildren: Travis Cooper, Portland, Ore.; Emily Cooper, Los Angeles, Calif.; Lauren (Jeff) Kreutter, Marina del Rey, Calif.; and John Cooper, Berkeley, Calif.
Ralph graduated from Paducah Tilghman High School in 1944, where he was a basketball player, track and field standout, and All-State and All-Southern football player. He was drafted in the fall of 1944 and served in the United States Navy on the escort carrier, the USS Savo Island. After an honorable discharge he received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy and was offered the opportunity to play football for the Midshipmen. Ralph decided to return to his home state of Kentucky to attend college on a football scholarship at Murray State University, Murray, Kentucky. He was a starting member of Murray State’s 1949 Tangerine Bowl team; this was the only national bowl appearance in school history. Ralph earned a bachelor’s degree from Murray State University in 1950 and a Master of Education degree from Peabody College (Vanderbilt University) in 1952.
After graduating from college, Ralph was hired by the Paducah Public Schools System, where he taught and coached football at his alma maters, Franklin Junior High and Paducah Tilghman High School, for over 35 years. He and fellow teacher, Mary Frank Ward, eloped in 1950 and remained married until her death in 2003. Ralph was a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church of Paducah, Ky. where he sang in the choir for 40 years. He began attending First United Methodist Church of Warsaw after moving to Warsaw in 2008.
Ralph is remembered as a loving husband, father and grandfather. Family, friends and former students remember Ralph for his positive attitude, determination, sense of humor, and love for coaching, teaching and mentoring young people.
A service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 6 in the chapel at the Milner and Orr Funeral Home, 120 Memorial Drive, Paducah, KY. Visitation will be held from 5–8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5.
Local arrangements were entrusted to Redpath-Fruth Funeral Home, 225 Argonne Road, Warsaw, Indiana.
A college scholarship fund has been established to benefit students at Paducah Tilghman High School, where the Coopers both attended and taught. Memorials may be made to: Paducah Public Schools Foundation (The Ralph and Mary Frank Cooper Memorial Scholarship Fund), P.O. Box 2550, Paducah, KY 42002.