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Dr. Samuel Cooper Print E-mail
Dr. Sam Cooper - Photo Courtesy BGSU Athletic Dept.Dr. Samuel Cooper spent 29 years as a professor of physical education at BGSU (1946-75) and retired as chairman of the Health and Physical Education department. While at BGSU, Cooper served as head swimming coach, assistant cross country and track coach, and was instrumental in beginning the BGSU hockey, soccer and lacrosse programs. During his time as chairman, the Health and Physical Education department graduated more students than any other school in the state.

In 17 years (1946-63), he coached the Falcon swimming team to a 160-49-1 dual meet record, winning the MAC title five-straight years (1956-60) and adding the sixth title in 1962 before retiring in 1963 for full-time HPE duties. The natatorium in the BGSU Recreation Center is named after Dr. Cooper, who was influential in getting the school to name buildings after prominent members of the University.

His love for hockey caused him to lead the campaign to build the BGSU Ice Arena to house a varsity hockey team. In the early 1980's, the Ice Arena served as a training ground for Bowling Green resident Scott Hamilton on his way to an Olympic gold medal in 1984. Cooper and Hamilton often skated exhibitions together at the Ice Arena. Dr. Cooper was also a founding member of the Bowling Green Curling Club, which also calls the Ice Arena home.

A graduate of Bellevue High School, Cooper starred on the football, basketball and track teams. At Oberlin College he captained the football team at end, played guard in basketball, and ran the quarter and half mile in track before graduating in 1936. After graduation he earned a spot on the 1936 U.S. Olympic team. He carried that pride throughout his life, building and Olympic display and lighting an "Olympic torch" in front of his Bowling Green home every Olympic year.

After serving as a head football, swimming and track coach at Bellevue High School, Cooper served 31 months as a Naval Officer in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

Cooper earned his master's from New York University in 1939 and his Ph.D. in educational administration from Western Reserve in 1955. He was born January 29, 1914 in Toledo and raised in Bellevue. In 1995, Cooper founded the BGSU Retirees Association, and served as it's first leader. He was named an Honorary Alumnus of Bowling Green in 1977. He remained a very active part of the Bowling Green community after his retirement.

He was inducted into the Oberlin College Hall of Fame in 1989 and the BGSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1975. Dr. Cooper passed away on December 12, 2003 at the age of 89.

(Information used from obituaries posted by BGSU and The Toledo Blade.)
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