George C. Cooper was a member of the “Golden Thirteen,” the first thirteen African American officers commissioned by the U. S. Navy. Throughout his career, he faced considerable prejudice because of his race, yet maintained an unshakable commitment to treating everyone the way he wanted to be treated himself.
Paul Stillwell’s book called “The Golden Thirteen” chronicles some of the episodes of racism that these pioneering black officers faced, such as sailors crossing the street rather than offering the appropriate salute to an officer.
During his time in the Navy, and later working for the city of Dayton as the first black department director, he served as a valued mentor for other African Americans. Mr. Cooper believed in the responsibility to help others. He was able to use his interaction with others as an opportunity to lead them to judge him not by the color of his skin but as a human being.
George Cooper died on May 20, 2002. He is located in Section 102 in the Woodland Mausoleum.
Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum is located at 118 Woodland Avenue off of Brown Street near the UD Campus. The Woodland Office is open Monday through Friday 8 am to 5 pm and Saturday 8 am to 12 pm. The Cemetery and Arboretum are open daily from 8 am to 6 pm. The Mausoleum is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. For more information call 937-228-3221 or visit the Woodland website.