Jesse Floyd Cooper Jr. was born on Feb. 22, 1931, in Belpre, to Jesse Floyd Cooper Sr. and Anne Elizabeth (Barrow) Cooper. He passed from this life Jan. 30, 2013, in Tulsa, Okla., at the age of 81.
Jesse lived in Belpre, until age 9, when his family moved to Casper, Wyo. He graduated from Natrona County High School in 1948. Jesse attended the University of Colorado 1948-1952, competing on the varsity gymnastics team and studying physics. He then served a three-year stint in the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps.
In 1955 he met Freda Hollingshead in Knoxville, Tenn. They moved to Tulsa and married on Feb. 18, 1956. They reared their children, Susan and Scott, while Jesse worked for GASO Pumps, Inc. He retired as president of GASO in 1986.
Throughout his adult life, Jesse was heavily involved in promoting the sport of "power" volleyball. His volleyball career began in 1957 at the Tulsa Downtown YMCA where for 12 years he coached the men's and women's YMCA United States Volleyball Association (USVBA) teams, and played on the men's teams.
Jesse directed the USVBA National Contenders Women's Volleyball Tournament in Tulsa in 1968 and 1969. He formed the first team for girls under age 15 in the USVBA Region 9.
In 1965, for his service, he received the USVBA Region 9 Commissioner's Honorable Mention Award.
Jesse helped form USVBA men's and women's volleyball leagues in Oklahoma and conducted numerous high school and college players' clinics throughout the state. He was a nationally certified USVBA referee and scorekeeper and helped create the USVBA Archive Project.
In 1976, Jesse and Freda started the first Oklahoma boys' Junior Olympic volleyball team, which participated in the National AAU tournaments. They were called "Mr. and Mrs. C" by the boys, and the program continued for 11 years.
Jesse conducted the Oklahoma State High School Championship Tournament for seven years. He also served on the USVBA Collegiate and Scholastic Volleyball Committee, the Committee for Research and Development, and was an ad hoc member of the Championship Committee for 10 years.
In 1985 Jesse organized the Golden Okies, a volleyball program for men to play age-group volleyball at national USVBA (now USAV) tournaments and in the Senior Olympics. Over the years, several individuals were recognized as All-Americans by the USAV, including Jesse in 1994 in the "Over 60" age group.
In 1988, Jesse was named a "Leader in Volleyball" by the USAV. He helped create the Oklahoma Region Volleyball Association (OKRVA), becoming its first commissioner and served until 1993.
Under his leadership, Tulsa hosted its first-ever USAV Open National Volleyball Tournament in 1994. In 1990 Jesse was appointed vice president of the Educational Programs and Services (EPS) Division of USAV.
From 1991-1996, Jesse directed the Tulsa Area United Way Sandblazer Outdoor Sand Volleyball Tournament.
Since 1991, he has directed the annual Corporate Challenge Volleyball Tournament and its successor, the Jenks Corporate Games. He helped found the Oklahoma High School Volleyball Coaches Association (OVCA). Each year the OVCA awards three academic scholarships in Jesse's name to deserving high school volleyball players.
Page 2 of 2 - Since 1995, he coordinated the Jenks Public Schools Community Education Volleyball Program. He was an expert in designing and installing volleyball net systems, and consulted for Porter volleyball equipment manufacturer.
He often played "noon-day" volleyball at area YMCAs and Tulsa gyms. He served on the Board of Directors of four different YMCAs in the Tulsa area. In 2002, Jesse was inducted into the National YMCA Volleyball Hall of Fame.
In November 2012, the Jenks Volleyball Booster Club announced the new Ditolla-Cooper Award, named in honor of Jesse and his friend, Jenks volleyball coach Nick Ditolla. Jesse enjoyed helping his friend, Dr. Thomas Cairns of Tulsa University, with his research on the aerodynamics of the volleyball float serve.
Outside of volleyball, he and Freda enjoyed vacationing in the Smoky Mountains. In the last seven years, he and Scott had visited Belpre on several occasions where he was happy to renew old acquaintances.
He played racquetball and was a voracious reader. He collected antiques and researched the Cooper family genealogy. He holds two patents in his name, one for a pump equipment innovation, and one for a unique piece of gymnastics equipment.
Jesse is survived by one sister, Janice Cooper of Aurora, Colo.; daughter Susan Cooper of Lawrence; son Scott Cooper and wife Jill of Claremore, Okla.; grandson Cody Cooper of Oklahoma City; granddaughter Mackenzie Cooper of Claremore; many nieces, nephews, and cousins; and a large extended family of volleyball friends.
He was preceded in death by his wife, the love of his life, Freda Hollingshead Cooper, and by one sister Jo Ardene Cooper Shickles.
A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at Butler-Stumpff Funeral Chapel/Cremation Society, 2103 E. Third, Tulsa. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Oklahoma Volleyball Coaches Association Jesse Cooper Scholarship Fund, in care of the Cremation Society.