Yale University

In Memoriam

Bert Cooper

Bert Cooper died on July 27, 2014. Below are his obituary and also a poem in remembrance by Tom Barton. Tom was Bert's Yale roommate for four years, starting in freshman year in Wright Hall on the Old Campus and continuing for the following three years in Branford College.


Los Angeles Times

August 3, 2014

Bert Cooper
1964 graduation

April 27, 1942 - July 27, 2014. Bertrand Maynard Cooper, Jr., "Bert," passed away last Sunday in Encinitas, California.

Born in Detroit, he was the eldest son of the late Bertrand Maynard Cooper and the late Margaret Elliott Cooper. He is survived by his wife, Sandra Allison Cooper, of Fallbrook, CA, and brother, Robert Cooper, of Pacific Palisades, CA, as well as by his three children and four grandchildren.

A graduate of Yale (1964), Bert was a Peace Corps volunteer in Venezuela (1964-1965) and received his JD from Northwestern Law (1968). It was there that Bert met his wife, Sandy, a fellow Peace Corps alum and law student.

Bert Cooper, 1994

After completing his law degree, Bert moved to Pasadena and enjoyed a distinguished career as a litigator at O'Melveny & Myers in Los Angeles. He wore his professional success lightly. Those who were fortunate enough to know him valued his keen legal mind and integrity, but are just as likely to remember his amicable disposition and lively sense of humor.

Bert took advantage of all that the West Coast had to offer. He climbed mountains with the Sierra Club, bicycled the Oregon and California coasts, led local Boy Scouts on adventures, participated in car rallies in the Santa Monica Mountains, and dove off the Channel Islands.

Bert at Yale

As a child in Lake Quivira, KS, he caught bluegill and catfish and developed a passion for fishing and boating that led to the acquisition of his first boat, a 17-foot Boston Whaler that he and his young children used to fish all over California and Baja. In his 50s, Bert turned from fishing to horseback riding, participating in amateur horse trials with his horse Zen who, like Bert, was as gentle as he was tall.

In 1998, Bert and Sandy retired to a farm in Templeton on California's Central Coast, where they looked after a stable of horses and several lucky dogs. A brain injury sustained during heart surgery in 2004 led Bert to San Diego and, in 2009, to Silverado, a facility for individuals affected by memory impairment where he spent the final years of his life.

Bert's spirit lives on in those he loved, particularly his wife Sandy; his son, Bert, and daughter-in-law, Lani, of Cranston, R.I.; his daughter, Allison, and son-in-law, Aaron Kitch, of Brunswick, ME; and his son, Joe, of Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA. His passion for life has been ably taken up by his four spirited grandchildren, Josie and Ian Cooper and Elsa and Beckett Kitch. He will be greatly missed.

A private memorial will be held in San Diego on August 22, 2014. Friends wishing to honor Bert's memory are invited to make a contribution in his name to the Nature Conservancy, whose efforts to protect and sustain California's fisheries reflect his love of the California coast.


A Poem in Remembrance of Bert Cooper, by Tom Barton '64

July 28, 2014

A friend I loved died yesterday
and I can't think of a thing to say
to you, his family and other friends
at this memorial. How we can pretend
anything can fill the emptiness,
or the future grey days of bleakness.
Days without his cheerful laughter
that made all our lives so much brighter.

Stuff doesn't count as much as I grow old.
Once upon a time I even valued gold,
and fame, and the taste of what is new.
But now, as I await my own final curfew,
I only value friends, and they grow all too few.
There's no time left for making more.
They march before me out the door,
leaving it open, beckoning me to follow
to some strange place I do not know.
I hope they're with god in some paradise
but the truth is, I don't  really know the place.

I don't want to be left here all alone
surrounded by names on rows of tombstones.
Once all these dear friends laughed and played
now they're silent, and in the cold ground laid.

They will never again know a lover's embrace.
The very memory of them vanishes in space
like a morning mist in the warmth of the sun.
Their joy and pain, and all that they were, is done.

I don't understand any of life
and why we suffer such loss and strife.
or where we go, and why
when it comes our time to die.
I guess all I really know, in the end,
is that once I knew, and loved, my friend.