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Published: Saturday, 12/13/2003

BGSU coach, educator lauded by many

BOWLING GREEN - Samuel M. Cooper, who coached the Bowling Green State University swim team to six Mid-American Conference titles and chaired the health and physical education department for 24 years, died yesterday at Blakely Care Center here. He was 89.

The family did not know the cause of death, but he had heart trouble, his daughter, Emily Welty, said.

Mr. Cooper was head swim coach at BGSU from 1946 until 1963, leading the team to a 160-49-1 record and winning the MAC title from 1956 through 1960 and in 1962.

He was department chairman from 1949 until his retirement in 1975.

He started intercollegiate soccer, lacrosse, and hockey programs, former Coach Mickey Cochrane said.

Mr. Cooper believed that a wide variety of sports would enhance the university.

The department trained a large number of graduate assistants in teaching and coaching while Mr. Cooper was chairman, and graduated more health and physical education majors than any other school in the state, Mr. Cochrane said.

“He was a marvelous department chair,” he said.

Mr. Cooper was inducted into the BGSU Athletic Hall of Fame in the mid-1970s and the Oberlin College Hall of Fame in 1989 and named a BGSU honorary alumnus in 1977.

In 1979, BGSU named its new swimming pool for Mr. Cooper.

Mr. Cooper was very influential in getting the school to name things after others, Mr. Cochrane said.

This summer, he worked to get the intramural fields named for Maurice O. Sandy, who was involved in the management of intramural athletics at BGSU.

“He always worked very hard to see that people received the recognition they deserved,” Catherine Sandy, Mr. Sandy s widow, said.

Mr. Cooper also was instrumental in getting the ice arena built, Mrs. Sandy said.

“He just thought it was a great sport,” she said.

He skated in ice shows at the arena and performed duets with Scott Hamilton.

In 1936, Mr. Cooper went to the Berlin Olympics to take part in an exhibition of American sports. “He was always interested in the Olympics,” Mr. Cochrane said.

In Olympic years, he put an exhibit in front of his home, with a gas torch that he lighted at the beginning and put out at the end of the games, Mr. Cochrane said.

Mr. Cooper was born Jan. 29, 1914, in Bellevue, Ohio. He graduated from Bellevue High School in 1932 and Oberlin College, where he was class president, in 1936.

He received a master s degree from New York University in 1937 and a doctorate of education from Western Reserve University in 1955.

In 1939, he married Louise C. Stapf. She died in 1987.

Mr. Cooper was a teacher and coach in the Sandusky and Bellevue public schools. He was a World War II Navy veteran.

He had been president of the St. Mark s Lutheran Church council, the Wood County Mental Health Board of Directors, and the Wood County Heart Association.

Surviving are his wife of 16 years, Marilyn Cooper; daughter, Emily Welty; sister, Evelyn Hutton, and two grandchildren.

The body will be in the Dunn Funeral Home here after 1 p.m. Monday. Services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. Mark s Lutheran Church.

The family suggests tributes to Bridge Home Health and Hospice or to the church.



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