LIVE OAK — On Jan. 26, the Class of 1957 of New Douglass High School gathered at the Social Sewing Club in Live Oak to salute one of their own: Mr. James Cooper.
In the 61 years since graduation Cooper has voluntarily maintained a connection with classmates, such that on occasion they gathered in person to bask in their high school days and update one another on matters that develop as one journeys to the eighth decade of life.
Classmates Harry Manker of Sanford and James Hendon of Live Oak served to organize the appreciation event as a surprise to Cooper, who has now reluctantly relinquished his responsibility to serve as class commander. As self-assigned class chief, Cooper — along with local classmates’ assistance — hosted banquets, sponsored a Bahamas cruise, took bus trips to Biloxi, and organized a host of other gatherings that served to maintain classmates’ friendship and camaraderie.
Organizers Manker and Hendon emceed the salute. Other program participants were as follows: Rev. Alfonso Harnetts gave the invocation and blessing; Mrs. Grace Patterson-Reid did the welcome and occasion; reflections came form several local prominent citizens. Live Oak Mayor Mr. Frank Davis presented a proclamation to the honoree, naming Jan. 26 as James Cooper Day. Classmates also remembered New Douglass High principal at the time, Mr. T. D. Dansby; and class sponsor Mrs. Sarah Robinson-Brown, as well as deceased members of the class in the memorial tribute. Representing the class, Manker presented a plaque to the honoree.
Afterwards the honoree gave remarks, as did his wife, Mrs. Ella Cooper and daughter, Tasha. Special thanks and gratitude came from the class to the following: Social Sewing Club members, Caterer Mrs. Frances Mandy, and Pianist Mrs. Eva Polite for their assistance in helping to make honoree, James Cooper’s special day memorable. Classmates supportive and/or in attendance were as follows: Lee Anna Bevels, Vivian Davis, Florine Fuller, James Hendon, Betty Holmes, Georgia Mae Kelley, Harry Manker, Grace Patterson, and Norcell Williams.
Spouses of some deceased class members were also in attendance: Elwood Perry and Willie Owens. Classmates will continue to celebrate their classmate James Cooper for his untiring commitment to the Class of ‘57 New Douglass High School.