In case you haven’t heard, local garden center founder Ralph Cooper, Jr. passed away on February 5th following a brave fight of pulmonary fibrosis.
Mr. Cooper and his family are well known in the Columbia gardening community. Mr. Cooper retired from his state job after thirty years before his “real job” of opening a garden center began. Mr. Cooper was in his eighties when he passed. Even though he had officially turned over the running of the garden center to his son, Glen and his nephew, Jared, you could usually find him sitting in his favorite chair so he could greet patrons of the garden center and keep a sharp eye on Glen. Glen says he’s not sure if he can run the garden center now without his dad telling him what he’s doing wrong.
Mr. Cooper was, first and foremost, kind and generous. He gave gardening advice when asked, and delighted in teaching folks how to catch bees in their hands. My suspicions for a long-time have been that Mr. Cooper opened the nursery not primarily to make money, but to have a chance to make friends and visit with people. Many people, including myself, felt like we were a part of the Coopers’ family whenever you visited the nursery. I would like to encourage you to make a point of stopping by the nursery to let the Cooper family know how he will be missed in our community, and to maybe share a story of Mr. Cooper with them.