The chairman and former owner of The Harry Cooper Supply Co. died April 22. Harry Cooper was 91.
Larry McMullin, chief financial officer for the distributor of plumbing, electrical, waterworks and HVAC supplies, said Cooper continued to come into the office regularly after selling the business to his nephew, John Cooper, several years ago.
“As a person, he was a man I greatly admired and had a huge amount of respect for. He was a model person,” McMullin said, noting he was unsure about the cause of death. “You couldn’t ask for a better man to work for.”
McMullin said John leads Harry Cooper Supply as CEO and is the fourth-generation owner of the business after Harry and his brother Jack took over the business from their father. Their grandfather, Henry "Harry" Cooper Jr., founded Harry Cooper Supply in 1908, according to Springfield Business Journal archives.
Harry Cooper Supply operates in Springfield at 605 N. Sherman Parkway and in Joplin via Joplin Supply Co. The company last month closed an office in Branson after selling the property to an undisclosed buyer, McMullin said. He declined to disclose revenues.
Through C.B. Management Co. Inc., John also owns Springfield’s Downtown Airport and Springfield Flying Service Inc., which offers aircraft storage, refueling and maintenance at the 2546 E. Division St. airstrip. Harry Cooper previously owned the ventures.
He also previously owned Independent Broadcasting Co., the operator of KOLR-TV, but sold the business in 1998, according to his obituary posted at GormanScharpf.com.
In the community, Cooper is known for his contributions to the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, as well as donations to educational causes and nonprofits including Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest Missouri.
His father donated 200 acres that previously housed Springfield Municipal Airport to the Park Board, where it opened Cooper Tennis Complex in 1994. Harry Cooper and his family donated $1 million in 2005 toward a $4 million expansion of the tennis complex, according to SBJ archives.
Cooper also brought the Springfield Lasers to Springfield. He purchased the tennis team and donated it to the city of Springfield in 1996, according to a news release from the Park Board.
“He liked to see these facilities filled with families and kids having fun,” Park Board Director Bob Belote said in the release. “That was his primary goal, and he achieved it in a special and magical way.”
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