Obituary: Hon. Richard I Cooper, 79, Ludington

March 23, 2020

Hon. Richard I. Cooper

Obituary: Hon. Richard I Cooper

Our beloved husband, father, and grandfather, Richard I Cooper, of Ludington passed away peacefully on March 21, 2020.

He was born December 28, 1940, to Dic I. Cooper and Bette (Zimmerman) Cooper.  Simply known as “Ric” or “Judge” to many, he devoted his life to his family and community. He served as Judge for 38 years, first as the Probate Judge for Lake County then as the Circuit Court Judge for Lake and Mason counties, being the longest serving circuit court judge in the history of the counties.  He was honored to have served in these capacities and appreciated the support he received from the communities throughout the years. He also served as a visiting judge in many county courts, the Recorders Court in Detroit, and the Court of Appeals.  

Prior to serving as judge, he operated a private legal practice.  Upon his retirement as judge, he worked as an assistant prosecuting attorney for a year in Lake County with his son, Craig Cooper who is prosecutor. Richard believed that life seemed to make a full circle for him, as his father was also the Lake County prosecutor in the 1950s.

Richard was raised in Baldwin and graduated from Baldwin High School in 1958.  He then went on to Central Michigan University and received a bachelor’s degree in history.  He was a member of the CMU marching band, student senate, Chairman of the Korean Orphanage Committee, and recipient of the Central Michigan University Chippewa Award for campus leadership.  He was also awarded a one-year Rotary International Fellowship at the University of Vienna, Austria, and taught English to military families in Milan, Italy. He continued his education at Indiana University receiving a master’s degree in political science and a juris doctor degree from Detroit College of Law.  Now known as Michigan State University College of Law, Richard followed his father as the second generation to receive his law degree from Detroit College of Law, and his son is now the third generation.

He worked his way through college doing a variety of interesting work activities, including working on the night shift canning line at Stokely VanCamp in Scottville, working at Jones Ice Cream and being a clerk in the bait and tackle store Ed’s Sports Shop in Baldwin. He could speak fluent German and worked his way to Europe on a German ship and was also an intern for NASA the summer we first landed on the moon.

He married his beloved wife Carol in 1978, celebrating 41 years together.  Together they raised a wonderful family and were involved in school, sports, dance, music, scouting, church, community, and family fun activities.  His greatest pride and joy were his family, and he was always supportive and encouraging of all of their endeavors and proud of their accomplishments.

Richard was a member of the Community Church and served as a deacon and Sunday school teacher.  He was also a Gideon Bible Award recipient. Richard was co-chairman of the founding steering group to save the Shrine of the Pines in Baldwin.  He was a lifetime member of the Shrine of the Pines, Lake County Historical Society, Scottville Clown Band, and Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association.  He enjoyed playing his clarinet in the Scottville Clown Band, as well as with various community bands. His interests also included downhill skiing, canoeing, bicycling, hiking, and caring for his ducks, fish, and cats and dogs.

Richard will be lovingly remembered by his wife of 41 years, Carol; his daughter Kristin; his son, daughter-in-law, granddaughter and grandson Craig, Jessica, Emma and Carson Cooper.  He is also survived by his brother James Cooper and sister Carmen Ward as well as numerous in-laws, cousins, nieces, nephews and an aunt.

A family memorial service will be held in his honor. If you wish, memorial contributions may be made in memory of Richard to the Lake County Community Foundation, PO Box 995, Baldwin, MI 49304 or the Community Foundation for Mason County, PO Box 10, Ludington, MI 49431.

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Arrangements were entrusted to Oak Grove Funeral Home of Ludington.