Joe Henry Cooper

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Joe Henry Cooper​

Louisiana State Representative (later 24th District for DeSoto, Red River, Sabine, and Bienville parishes) ​
In office
1960 ​ – 1980​
Preceded by Marvin Roberts​
Succeeded by Johnny McFerren

Born May 8, 1918​
Fullerton, Vernon Parish
Louisiana, USA

Resident of Mansfield in DeSoto Parish ​

Died August 10, 1980 (aged​ 62)
Dallas, Texas
Resting place Mansfield Cemetery ​
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Hazel Elizabeth Strong Cooper (married 1937-1980, his death) ​
Children Martha Anne and Sara Lynn​

Parents:
Dock Henry and Elestine Neely Cooper​

Occupation Businessman
Religion Baptist

Joe Henry Cooper (May 8, 1918 – August 10, 1980) was a business man in Mansfield in DeSoto Parish in northwestwen Louisiana, who served five consecutive terms in the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1960 to 1980, having at various times represented Caddo, DeSoto, Red River, and Sabine parishes.[1]

Representative Cooper authored the Louisiana code of ethic] and pushed for managerial controls on state government.[2]

Background

Cooper was born in tiny Fullerton in Vernon Parish to Dock Henry Cooper and the former Elestine Neely, she a native of Copiah County, Mississippi. On December 14, 1937, Cooper married the former Hazel Elizabeth Strong (January 5, 1914 – April 14, 2002), a native of Shelby County in east Texas, who was the daughter of Chester A. Strong, a prominent farmer, and the former Naomi Mitchell (1891–1986). The Coopers had two daughters, Martha Anne (born 1942) and Sara Lynn (born 1947).[2]

During World War II, Cooper served in the United States Navy Seabees as a coxswain in the Pacific Theater of Operations. After the war in 1946, he established a general merchandise store in Mansfield, a town well known in the area because of a battle fought there in 1864 during the American Civil War. He was a member of the Sabine River Authority, the DeSoto Chamber of Commerce, the Farm Bureau, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Masonic lodge. He was a member of the board of directors of the Mansfield Bank and Trust Company. Cooper was also a deacon in the First Baptist Church of Mansfield.[2]

Legislative service

Cooper entered the legislature as Jimmie Davis began his second nonconsecutive term as governor. Cooper proposed passage of the code of ethics in the Davis administration in an effort, critics would say largely unsuccessful, to stop corrupt practices in Louisiana government. He proposed the investment of idle funds and the release to the public of the state's unclassified payroll. It was during the administration of Davis' successor, John J. McKeithen, that Cooper obtained passage of his proposed bills.[2]

From 1968 to 1972, Cooper served in a two-member district with fellow Democrat John S. Pickett, Jr., of Many in Sabine Parish, later a state district court judge. In the 1967 primary, Cooper and Pickett defeated a comeback effort waged by former state Senator Joe T. Cawthorn of Mansfield, who died suddenly a week after that election.​

From 1972 to 1980, Cooper served in a two-member district with fellow Democrat H. M. Fowler of Coushatta Red River Parish, the brother of state Elections Commissioner Douglas Fowler.[1]

In 1969, Cooper served on the legislative committee established to rid the state of organized crime. He also served on several joint committee for state management and efficiency and for prison reform, including the decentralization of the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola in West Feliciana Parish.

Cooper floor managed the establishment of Toledo Bend Reservoir, a popular fishing resort on the Sabine River of the Louisiana-Texas boundary, and served on the Sabine authority for eighteen years. He was also instrumental in the establishment of the Toledo Bend Scenic Drive. In developing Toledo Bend, Cooper worked with then Department of Public Works director Claude Kirkpatrick, himself a former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives.[2]

In his last legislative term, coinciding with the second term of Edwin Edwards, Cooper was chairman of the House Highway, Transportation, and Public Works Committee and cochairman of the Joint Committee on Highways, Public Works, and Transportation. He pushed for the development of the parish unit system for state highway work.[2] In 1976, Cooper floor managed a bill making Louisiana State University in Shreveport a four-year institution. Cooper led the effort in the House, and colleague Don Williamson of Shreveport moved the proposal through the state Senate.[2]

Cooper died in Dallas, Texas, at the age of sixty-two. He and his wife are interred at Mansfield Cemetery.[2]​ ​

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Membership in the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812-2020. Louisiana House of Representatives. Retrieved on September 26, 2019.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Cooper, Joe Henry. A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography via lahisory.org (1988). Retrieved on September 26, 2019.

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