CMSgt (Ret) Gregory L Cooper Jr passed away on June 13 in Santa Maria, California. Greg was born on September 20, 1930 in Muskegon, MI, then raised on a Depression-era farm in Austin, MN, where he loved to play sports, grow vegetables, fishing, build things and wanted to travel the world.
Greg joined the Air Force in 1947 and was assigned as a medic at Furstenfeldbruck Air Base, Germany. Throughout his Air Force career, Greg bowled, played softball, basketball and football helping his teams win several base and Regional tournaments. In Bavaria, he saw Erika at an Air Force dance, they married in 1952 and the Cooper's moved to Griffiss AFB, NY to be discharged. They moved back to Austin, MN but he missed the military, so he re-enlisted. In 1953, Greg and Erika were transferred to Offutt AFB, NB, where daughter Dianne was born then in 1955, they moved to Wiesbaden AB, Germany, where son Danny was born. In 1960, he was assigned to Lowry AFB, CO to learn electronics then to Travis AFB, CA to work on missiles then earned his high school diploma and Electronics Technician degree. In 1963, Greg and friend Len Wink, won the California State Doubles bowling title vs future Hall of Famer Billy Hardwick. In 1965, he was sent to Khorat AB, Thailand to support the Vietnam War, then a year later to Hahn AB, Germany to work on munitions and bowl on the base team traveling across Germany. In 1970, Greg was sent to Minot AFB, ND to help fix Minuteman nuclear missiles and in 1974, to Vandenberg AFB, CA, to refurbish missile launch silos.
In 1978, he retired from the Air Force then moved to Orcutt where he bowled Oak Knolls Lanes first 300 game in 1979. From 1984 to 1986, he worked for Martin Marietta on the Space Shuttle Launch complex. In 1988, the Cooper's moved to Nipomo, designed their new home and bowled at Rancho Bowl in Santa Maria, where he volunteered to give free bowling lessons.
Greg and Erika's greatest achievements are Dianne and Danny. Dianne was an Air Force doctor with husband Mike and Danny was an Air Force Engineer. With Erika's 30 year of Air Force Civil Service, the Cooper family has 88 years of Air Force service.
In 2017, he fulfilled his dream for education by creating a Santa Barbara bowling scholarship. The 2017 winner was a Santa Barbara County bowler now in her junior year at the Stanford University Mechanical Engineering program. The 2018 winner was a competitive County bowler that will attend UCLA and study Electrical Engineering.
Greg's Memorial Service will be held on June 23rd at 1 pm at the Chapel of Dudley-Hoffman Mortuary on 1003 E. Stowell Rd in Santa Maria. Friends can write a check payable to the “Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara” and write in the memo line “Greg and Erika Cooper College Bowling Scholarship”. Then mail this tax-deductible donation to the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, PO Box 3620 Santa Barbara, CA 93130. To make a credit card donation, go to sbscholarship.org, click on the “Donate” button and type the scholarship name in the Name of Scholarship box. If questions, please call the Foundation at 805-687-6065.
Greg is survived by his wife of 66 years Erika, daughter Dianne and husband Michael Solinger of Carson City, NV, Danny Cooper in Cincinnati, OH, granddaughter Lauren Solinger in Reno, NV and grandson Adam Solinger and wife Chalese in Las Vegas, NV, great grandchildren MAQ and Marie. Dad we salute your life of service and love.
To leave a condolence for the family visit www.dudleyhoffmanmortuary.com
Mortuary & Crematory