Edward J. Cooper of Hope, Arkansas passed away Thursday, March 30, 2017. He was born in Nevada County February 11, 1937. He finished Prescott High School in 1954, and attended Texarkana College, Southern State College, and Ouachita Baptist University. He was preceded in death by his father, Jonathan Cooper and his mother, Emma Hamilton Cooper and his wife, Shirley Allen Cooper.
Edward is survived by three children, Lesha Cooper, Sharyla Cooper Thompson (Stan) and Jonathan Allen Cooper (Michelle). He has two grandchildren, Kaley Thompson Tucker (Curt) and Brady Marshall Thompson.
In 1989, Edward retired from the Hope Public School System, where he had taught English for 23 years. Prior to that, he had taught 7 years at Emmet High School. In 1980 he was Hempstead County Teacher of the Year. Edward was also a music composer and writer. He was an organist and deacon of Unity Baptist Church from 1970-2000. He published music under the name of “Linger at Calvary Melodies” and “Melon City Music” and had composed music and lyrics to 100 plus songs, both gospel and secular. After retiring from the public school system, he taught music privately for ten years. Following that, he was office manager and pianist for the First Baptist Church of Prescott for many years, where he presently is a member.
Edward wrote and published “Farmer’s Paradise,” a musical history of Hempstead County in 1993. A percentage of sales of it were donated to the Friday Music Club, the Arts Council, and the historical society. He was a member of the Golden “K” Kiwanis Club for several years. One of those years, he was president of the club. The club sponsored a CD of “Farmer’s Paradise” in 2003 and all proceeds were given to local places to help handicapped individuals. He was presented to the prestigious George F. Hixon Award by the Golden “K” Club in 2003.
He recorded 12 different CD’s of music, some of which were his piano arrangements of gospel and secular songs. In particular, he composed a gospel album entitled LINGER AT CALVARY in 1970. It was recorded in 1971 and featured the Unity Baptist Trio and Unity Baptist Music Makers. Members of those groups were Rev. Gordon Renshaw, Bob Hand, Shirley Cooper, Ruth Hicks, Linda Brown, Quetta Ellis, Edward Cooper and Mike Huckabee on bass guitar. The album was advertised by the Baptist Missionary Association of America and all proceeds from the sales were given to help BMA missionaries.
The story behind the song, “Linger at Calvary,” began in 1967, when Cooper read a thin booklet by Dr. James Alexander Stewart of Scotland. It was about the prayer life of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, one of the greatest preachers of the 1800’s. While reading a line that said, “It was wonderful to see how he lingered at Calvary.” Cooper said the words of the song he wrote were immediately in his mind, and as he sat down at the piano, he played the song. He then jotted it all down on a piece of manuscript paper, and it was completed in approximately 15 minutes. He published the song and sent it to the Stewart office in Lansdale, Pa. It was then sent to Dr. Stewart, who wrote Cooper back shortly thereafter. Stewart said he could tell the song was truly inspired and was instructing his evangelistic team to use it in their Scotland crusades.
Edward’s life story was dramatized by professional actors on “Unshackled,” the famous radio drama of Pacific Garden Mission of Chicago in 1977 and was broadcast over several hundred radio stations worldwide in November of that year. The drama concentrated on his difficult childhood, his music compositions, and his personal faith in Jesus Christ. One of his favorite scriptures (1st Corinthians 1:26-31) was from the King James Version of the Bible, which declares how God has chosen the weak and despised things of the world….that no flesh should glory in his presence…as it is written, he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” Other favorites of his were John 3:16 and the Roman Road of Salvation.
Although he had a few music contracts, he never pushed his music a lot through publishers. In fact, he gave a lot of it away. He was excited about a letter he got from John W. Peterson, famous gospel composer, who encouraged him to submit two of his songs to Singspiration Publications. The two songs were accepted and he was paid a modest sum for them.
He was most grateful to have local artists sing his songs while he accompanied them on the piano. He enjoyed playing and arranging music offertories for churches where he belonged. “I never was comfortable with applause from local congregations as the trend evolved. I wanted to emphasize the melody of the hymns so that the listeners’ attention was focused entirely on the lyrics so that they truly had a worshipful experience,” he said. At First Baptist Church of Prescott, Cooper said he had great pleasure in arranging songs of pianists such as Dino Kartsonakis and playing them for offertories with Anne Franks, an excellent organist.
The family of Edward Cooper will receive friends and family on Sunday, April 2, 2017 between the hours of 3-6 p.m. at Herndon-Pharr Funeral Home, 403 South Main, Hope, Arkansas.
Funeral services for Edward Cooper will be Monday, April 3, 2017 at 2 p.m. in the Unity Baptist Church, conducted by Bro. Frank Henson, Bro. Glen Tropp and Bro. Kevin Smead. Music will be provided by several local artists who had recorded some of Cooper’s songs. Arrangements under the direction of Herndon-Pharr Funeral Home.
Interment will follow in Oak Grove Cemetery, Shover Springs, Arkansas under the direction of Herndon-Pharr Funeral Home.
Online Memorial: pharrfuneralhomes.com