Saturday, December 5, 2009

Our Friend Bert Has Gone Home 12/5/09

Our Friend Bert Has Gone Home  12/5/09
Weather -- still overcast
Temp -- 20 F (heading to 12 F by tomorrow) Wind -- calm

Our friend Bert Coop died Friday, December 4, 2009 at 2:40 pm in his home after several years battling the cancer that finally took his life. We have known Bert and Bonnie Coop for over 30 years, we grew-up our kids together, were in the same ward as young parents, separated with the splitting of the ward, then back again recently with a realignment of the boundaries.

When we left for our mission, Bert said that he probably would not be here when we returned. We hoped  that was an over-statement, but it has turned out to be quite accurate. The death of a friend changes the landscape dramatically and Bert's death will surely do that for us. We will continue to love and include Bonnie and will do all we can to remind her of our love and friendship.  Sister Cindy said that we should call them on SKYPE a couple of days ago and we talked to Bonnie and then to Bert for a minute or two; good choice by Sister Cindy.

Bert was, no, is, a complex fellow like most of us. He brought his family to Sacramento to work as a pediatrician at Kaiser and worked there until taking an early retirement a few years ago, showing himself to be a combination of a compassionate, caring doctor; a bit of a shy person with strangers; and an outgoing, boisterous friend. He wasn't above stretching a story about himself, but would be serious and interested if you wanted to talk of important things. He was a lover of the arts, especially painting, and loved to perform with his good tenor voice. We asked him to paint something for us like one of our favorite pictures he had in his home. We asked him to paint one for us and he did, but we liked the original better. He liked the new one so he agreed to give us the original one and kept the new one for himself. We insisted on buying the painting and, after refusing the payment he reluctantly accepted the money, saying that it wasn't that good. We love it and it now hangs above our bed.

We have been on several trips with Bert and Bonnie, one of them around the end of South America. We all enjoyed the karaoke nights and Bert was really in his element. We sang a duet of the Everly Brothers "Dream", he sang solos, and with the group of guys, The HOTS, sang"The Lion Sleeps Tonight". That was a fun time.

In his later years he took up painting and got very good at it. He always said the one you liked was not very good, but I know he was pleased at the compliment. He also joined several choirs so that he could enjoy making music with others. I sang with him several times in a group for something at church and he sang in the ward choir while I conducted. I asked him to be the president of the choir and I think he enjoyed that. He also joined the American River Junior College A Cappella choir just for the love of singing. This was during his chemotherapy time and he often had to wear a ball cap to cover his thinning hair. He loved to sing and took every opportunity to perform.

Being away from home has its own challenges, and being away when your friends are hurting makes it all the more difficult. We know that we are in the right place doing what God has both assigned to us to do and allowed us to do, but our hearts yearn to be there with Bonnie at this difficult time. I guess there will be time enough for that when we return and all of the others have helped her through the first months.

What a time. What a country


Marilyn said...

What a nice remembrance of Bert. We'll all miss him!

Mom/Cindy said...

Me too, me too, me too!!! Bert's one of my best buddies!!! See ya again in the next life,Bert! Love ya, Me

Good job, Elder Doug. Love ya,Sister Cindy

Diane Keys said...

Doug and Cindy:

I posted a response to your testament to the good life of Bert Coop last night, but I don't see it now, so I'll write it again. Brother Coop was Jennifer's pediatrician at Kaiser. A few weeks after her birth in December 1974, I was depressed and convinced by others that I needed to stop nursing her and change to formula. I called Bro. Coop on the phone at his home on a Sunday afternoon and told him I needed to wean Jennifer. He thought for a moment and said that he just saw Jennifer that last week and she was gaining weight very well. He then said that I needed to pull myself together and keep feeding her just the way I was already doing. It was a time when it could have gone either way, but his words gave me confidence in myself and my ability to care for this child. I am grateful for what he said and the impact it has been on my life. When discouraged, I often remember that I am moving in the right direction - I just need to pull myself together. Thank you Brother Coop.

Carol said...

First I want to express my condolences to you at losing your good friend. What a nice post about him and tribute to the life that he lived. Arent we so blessed to have the knowledge that the gospel brings us to comfort us and give us greater understanding of the plan that Heavenly Father has for us.

Thank you for your posts about the missionaries and the pictures. Having a missionary serving in our family is bringing us great peace and blessings in our home. People ask me all of the time if I am worried having Mindy in Russia. I tell them that I have never had a fear and the Lord has blessed me with the knowledge that she is serving where she needs to be. Getting to know you and the mission through the blog has let me know why I do not need to fear - I know that she is surrounded by wonderful angels and I aprreciate all you do for her and the other missionaries. What a great opportunity you are all having being able to serve there in that great place.

Andrea S said...

I'm sure Bonnie and her family appreciate you memories of Bert and will feel your love and support all the way from Russia.

Bob Steed said...

Doug - Thank you so much for posting this. We hadn't heard yet. Look at how central and needed you are in our lives. We get East Stake updates all the way from Russia!

Shannon said...

This is a beautiful tribute to Bert. I will miss him. I always enjoyed his humor and smile. Its comforting to know we will see him again and share some laughs! We should dig out the video of him from back in the day - the ones you gave to us as part of our family history. There are some great shots of him and Bonnie at seaside!