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
Personal details
Born (1918-05-08)May 8, 1918
Fullerton, Vernon Parish
Louisiana, USA
Died August 10, 1980(1980-08-10) (aged 62)
Dallas, Texas
Political party Democratic
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 businessman in Mansfield, the seat of 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 DeSoto, Red River, Sabine, and Caddo parishes.[1] Cooper authored the Louisiana code of ethics and pushed for managerial controls on state government.[2]

Background[edit]

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),[3] a native of Shelby County, Texas, who was the daughter of Chester A. Strong, a prominent farmer, and the former Naomi Mitchell (1891–1986). The couple 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 Ocean theater. 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, 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[edit]

Cooper entered the legislature as James Houston "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.[4]

From 1972 to 1980, Cooper served in a two-member district with fellow Democrat H. M. Fowler of Coushatta in Red River Parish.[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 the 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.[2]

In his last legislative term, coinciding with the second term of Edwin Washington 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 W. Williamson of Shreveport moved the proposal through the Louisiana State Senate.[2]

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

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Membership in the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812-2012" (PDF). legis.la.gov. Retrieved January 11, 2012. [permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Joe Henry Cooper", A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography, Vol. I (1988), Louisiana Historical Association publication, p. 195
  3. ^ "Social Security Death Index". ssdi.rootsweb.com. Retrieved January 28, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Joe T. Cawthorn". Many, Louisiana: Sabine Index. November 16, 1967. Retrieved October 28, 2014. 
Louisiana House of Representatives
Preceded by
Marvin Roberts
Louisiana State Representative (later 24th District for DeSoto, Red River, Sabine, and Bienville parishes)

Joe Henry Cooper
1960–1980

Succeeded by
Johnny McFerren