The following are some eulogies from members of the Gunsite Alumni Group and friends of Jeff
Eulogies From Students and Friends
Jeff has done something few men, or women, have done. He has touched us and made a mark and a change in each and every one of our lives. Jeff has provided us with the technique but more importantly he has provided us with the mindset to be ourselves in life; to direct the life flow streaming around us; and to succeed in all our endeavors as well rounded gentlemen and gentlewomen. There is one thing that we can, nay, must do to continue Jeff's legacy and that is to go forth and teach the world, spreading the gospel according to Jeff Cooper wherever the uninformed and unenlightened are congregated. This is not meant to be a parody of religion but it is meant to be a realization that in order to be free we must train and teach our generation and the succeeding generations on what it means to be free and to refine the tools at our disposal to make sure we all remain free. -- Fred Muller
A large part of me has left and is gone ... but, not what Jeff Did for me! Another way to explain is as Jeff said, "This country is not a President ... nor a political party, nor a piece of ground --- but rather, this country is an Idea ... and that Idea is embodied by the Constitution." Well, ... Jeff's ideas and his legacy are here with us Forever...for all our days and to be passed on to our children to defend our Nation and our Way of Life with the Patriotism and traditional ideas of Right and Wrong that he fostered. And so Patton's words here are So Appropriate "Let me not mourn for those who have died fighting, but rather let us be glad that such heroes have lived." And yes I say -- Jeff Lived; he Really Lived! Our nation has been lacking the heroes and visionaries since World War II that Jeff is a prime example of. He lived like the hero that he is and he sure did it right! I am a far better man (and still alive) for having the honor and privilege of personally knowing Jeff Cooper and all that he taught me and gave to me for 30 some years. Rest in peace my friend, we shall meet again. -- Cas Gadomski
I have read his works for more years than I can remember and I feel as though I lost a friend today. I feel worse because, no one knows how much I admired him and his stories and insights and how much it shaped my life,, and hell, I am 62 years old. As I type, I have a tear or two in my eye. I know your loss is greater than mine, but maybe not, we all lost something today. I hope the Countess is doing as well as possible/ -- Cliff Williams
Sorry to hear of the Colonels passing. I listened to what he said, read what he wrote and learned what he taught, I was much better off for it. -- Garth Gaines
I first got to know Jeff in the early 60s when I wrote several "gun writers" with a question and he was the only one who answered. Now an era has ended, and we have lost something very rare these days, an honorable gentleman. Jeff was one of those rare men who stood firmly for what he believed in. He could not only teach but he also freely shared his incredible knowledge with anyone who would talk with him and unlike many he never sought honors or recognition for himself. His teachings and philosophy of life have meant the world to me (and to many others) and are the reason I'm alive today. His writings inspired me. While I never had the privilege of going to go to Africa with him, he took me there. I never crossed the Balsas, but I felt like I had. I never fought the Zulu, but I was there. His prolific writings that he has left to us--over 500 major magazine articles, some 20 books, numerous videos and other writings, and of course his "Commentaries," will continue to inspire all who read and reread them. Good bye my dear friend. Give my regards to Theodore when you see him. May your hunting trails be smooth, your banquet table full, and your wine glass brimming. Waidmann's Heil! -- John Schaefer
Here was a man.... Who will be sorely missed. -- Mark Garst
And so the Cid rides out.
Rides out of the Gates of History and into Legend. Heavenly Father. Open your arms to receive the Soul of one who Lived and Died The Purest Knight of All.
He is there now. Striding up the long stairs of the entrance hall in that authoritative Jeff Cooper stride, 1911 at his side. Now, at the great portico of the Gates of Valhalla themselves. At the top, turning to pause and survey the array of faces turning to hail his entrance. There are many. Old Friends from way back. Comrades. Veterans. His dogs run forward past their legs toward him, to greet him, excitedly. All are present.
Cheering and hats in the air. "Huzzah ! Huzzah !!" they cry. Excited faces, hands reaching out in welcome. Beckoning inwards, that they wander forward into the glades of Elysium. More arrive, hearing the news. Some send word back of the arrival, for there are also many, who arrived before Jeff's time, who have watched with interest. They will meet for the first time.
Shouts go up for the boards to be laid, yes they will need many. And a chair above the salt, for Jeff. For there is much news and far more to discuss. Great deeds to be recounted. Great names to raise a glass to. This night will be a long one, one of many long warm evenings in the fragrant glades of Elysium.
Gentlemen I give you "For God ! The Cid !! And Gunsite !!!" -- D. Boden
An addition to the above from Paul Kirchner -- "The cats, crouching up on the ledges, shut their eyes and stretch lazily back for an expected scratch under the chin."
Think of the seats at the table . . . John Moses Browning, Theodore Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, Herman McBride . . . . and now Col. Cooper. I wonder if St. Michael has enrolled so he may learn "The Modern Technique?" He lives on in each of us. -- Ken Campbell
Winston Churchill ... T.E. Lawrence ... Hans-Ulrich Rudel ... Sir Samuel Baker ....Karamojo Bell... Sir Richard Burton... Paul von Mauser... General George Patton ... The Colonel leans forward to touch his wine-brimmed goblet on that of Sir Samuel, "Sir Samuel ! Now tell us all truly. Did you really purchase your wife in the slave market ?"
"Zounds Sir ! Indeed I did", ( the diners roar with laughter ), "upon my word ! You may ask her yourself as all my fellows have ! Now you must tell me of your time in Africa."
And Colonel turns to T.E. Lawrence, "Colonel Lawrence ! So tell me ... why the single-action Colt ?"
"Well, as I prepared to depart for the Levant for the first time ..."
It will be many, many evenings before all the hands are shook and yet never that conversation is exhausted. -- D. Boden
"When death comes at last, as it must to all men, the true man can say that he left not one drop in the cup." -- Alcibiades . He might have written this for Jeff. It certainly applies. Shooting is the least of what I learned from him, and there will be no replacing what he has been in my life. I am not alone. Prayers to the family. -- Bill Jeans
I feel a great sadness with the passing of The Colonel. What eases the sadness is remembering all I've received from his life's work and teaching - that makes me so honored and pleased to have known him. Let us remember. I think Jeff would say now "Let us appreciate". Let us continue to be his good disciples and "family." My the good Lord give comfort ,hope and strength to Janelle and the children (to whom we owe as we do The Colonel). -- Shalom Pam
Although this had to be expected, it hurts that this great man will never talk to us again. Personally, I'll miss his clear mind , insight and experience of life, since he lived a life full of adventures and many highlights a common guy just can dream about. Certainly, Jeff will live further along in all people's mind who had the chance to meet him. And he is part of Steyr Mannlicher's history. I feel privileged having been "educated" during the "Scout-era".... My condolences to Janelle and Lindy. Well, I hope Jeff's in a better place now, without pain, probably hunting..... -- Elmar Bigeri, Steyr Mannlicher
Please pass my sincerest condolences to the family. Jeff gave much to the shooting industry. His talents, knowledge, and insight will be truly missed. -- Joe DeGrande, Savage Arms
I count myself extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to meet this man on three occasions, beginning in April of 2004. Colonel Cooper was the only man I have ever met besides my Mom's Uncle Sylvan, who used the language so well that I often needed a dictionary when reading his books, or the personal letters which we briefly exchanged during the Fall of 2003. He was interested in my comments on various toxic marine creatures, some of which he'd had encounters with during his "stay" as a Lt. Col. of Marines in the Pacific during WWII.
I was in fact "summoned" to his home on April 18th, 2004, when he heard that I was onsite, taking one of the courses he'd developed. We chatted for about an hour and a half, and I have rarely been in the presence of a more forthright, erudite, no-nonsense, eclectically-educated man. Col. Cooper was a true Renaissance man in every sense. He brooked no nonsense, suffered fools even less-patiently, and could at times be more than a little difficult to approach. He disliked small-talk; preferring instead to focus on Big Ideas and the grand themes of history, literature and politics. However, if you held up your end of the conversation, Col. Cooper always showed appreciation for and genuine interest in your ideas. That I was extended a special invitation into his home, and have always been treated cordially by him and his very gracious wife Jannelle whom he lovingly entitled "The Countess", is something I shall always consider an honor. A truly great man; a poet, a patriot, a warrior and a philosopher, has been taken from us. May God bless and keep the Cooper family in his heart; may He console them in their time of grief; and may Col. Cooper finally have freedom from the pain he faced so bravely these past few years. From now on, Heaven's gonna have an unbeatable Rifle and Pistol team. Sadly and with the most sincere condolences to all who know him. -- Greg Mactye
Words fail at the moment...........but I will always remember my wife walking into the bedroom where I was on my "sick bed" with tears in her eyes, carrying a letter from the Colonel. This letter got me up and back in the fight. I will always be grateful. Prayers for Mrs. Janelle and the family. -- Jams Ham
I note with sadness the news of Jeff's passing . . . but it's not really sadness. More of a personal loss, and even that is temporary.
I've said before that the only reason I'm alive today is Jeff's teaching, even if at second- or third-hand. I guess a part of him lives on in me, and in everyone like me who's 'seen the elephant' and come out alive because of Jeff's teachings. The same goes for all those who haven't yet had to apply them the hard way, but are prepared to do so if needed.
Jeff is not dead. His body is at peace, at last . . . but his soul lives on, both here on Earth in all of us who revered him, and, please God, in the happy hereafter, where he's doubtless looking at all the shootin' buddies who preceded him and asking them, "How the heck did YOU end up here?" (or words to that effect!). I also think with pleasure of the wartime comrades he's greeting again, and I trust the Heavenly beer is better stuff than the dishwater everyone complained about in WW2!
Don't mourn Jeff. Rejoice that he lived! Be happy that he has no more pain. Console Janelle, those of you who know her . . . and I'm sure she is looking forward to being with Jeff again. Great love such as theirs is rare, and it will live on beyond this life. I'm sure of that.
I won't be at this year's Reunion (not that I'm eligible, anyway), or the TR memorial but those of us who are going, please make it a joyful farewell to a comrade gone to his well-earned rest. May he keep open a place on the line for us! (I wonder if there's a Heavenly version of the Donga?) -- Peter Grant
I felt much saddened when I learned that Col. Cooper had died. I think it unlikely that we will see another like him. I will pray for his family...and I'd bet a lot that I am not alone in that endeavor. -- Bill Sutherland
Please pass along the sympathies of the Modern Warrior staff and students. Jeff’s words were, are and will always be quoted frequently here at Modern Warrior. He was a pioneer and as all pioneers will cast his shadow over all of us throughout our lives and the lives of those we train and influence.
"A warrior can lose,
but will never be defeated.
A warrior can be beaten, but will never be conquered.
A warrior can die, but will never perish" -- Phil Messina
I have been flooded by thoughts and memories of the Colonel over the past week. I have attempted to put some of these thoughts into some sort of cohesive writing, perhaps a eulogy if you will, but have not been able to. Suffice it to say that Jeff Cooper has been a major influence on both my professional and personal life. My association with him has led to some of the most wonderful friendships of my life, and some of the most rewarding professional relationships as well.
I followed Jeff's writings as from as early as my high school days. When IPSC was founded, I became involved in it as soon as I could. My senior year in college found me scheduling my first (and regrettably only) trip to Gunsite for the API250 during spring break. I drove from Nacogdoches, Texas, towing a tent trailer, and visiting Grand Canyon (freshly covered with snow) on the way. I arrived at Gunsite on Sunday, March 12, 1982, and pulled up to the old campground. Noticing that one of the tires on the trailer had lost some rubber, I decided to change it before setting up camp. So there I was, head stuck under the hood, retrieving the jack for my old Ford pickup, when I heard the approach of a three wheeler. Tricyclophobia! Closing fast on me was Col. Cooper on his power trike, SKB shotgun in the rack on the handlebars. I walked out in front of the truck, making sure that he could see that my hands were empty. He pulled up, introduced himself, and asked if I was having vehicle trouble. I explained the situation, and that I was attending the 250. He welcomed me to Gunsite, excused himself, and buzzed off back to the Sconce. That was the first time I had ever seen Col. Jeff Cooper.
That week was one of the most wonderful of my life. A life altering experience. The beginning of a long and wonderful journey. The beginning of several personal and professional relationships. Clint Smith, Robbie Baarkman, Bill Jeans, Larry Larsen on staff. Milt Sparks and Steve Lunceford as fellow classmates. But most of all, Col. Cooper's presence on the range and in the classroom.
I have been truly blessed to have known Jeff Cooper. Farewell. -- Duane Hufstedler
He taught us how to teach what we learned the hard way. A raven gawked at my bedroom window this morning and I wondered why. Forever more! -- Leander Cecil McGriff and sons Leander L. and Kam C.
In this time of the end of life, it is helpful for me to hear the appropriate music. Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis is a piece which has got me through some very sad times in my distant past. I don't know what was happening in Vaughan Williams' life when he wrote it, but it must have been heartrending. He transformed his private grief into a work of music which is very cathartic for me.
Another is the second movement of Dvorak's American Quartet. He was Bohemian but spent several years in the US, without his family. Dvorak was clearly a very happy man, judging from his music, but occasionally some other emotions slip through, as in this movement. The American Quartet is a sparkling work, but the second movement is his homesick movement, as my wife Ellen describes it. It releases tears, if there are any that need to be released. -- Steve Munden
As a youngster in Joplin Missouri in the 1960s, I was an avid reader with a strong interest in firearms. In examining the holdings of the city’s public library, I found a few books that appeared to appeal to that interest. One was a book by Chic Gaylord, Handgunner’s Guide. The others were Fighting Handguns and The Complete Book of Modern Handgunning. If one were to pull the old records and the handwritten library book cards from that era, my scrawl appeared all over the cards for these books. I soon found that Jeff was writing for Guns and Ammo. It was the first magazine to which I subscribed.
His expression was superb, though the teenager I was found myself scrambling to the dictionary – my mother felt it appropriate that I look difficult words up, "that’s how you learn." It was more than how he wrote, though his style was unlike anything I’d read before or since. The clearness of the thought, succinctly communicated, drove into my consciousness. How could he be wrong?
I was a regular reader of and fan of Jeff Cooper. When I joined the police in 1977, my first trip to the range found me with a Colt National Match .45 Auto loaded with Federal Match ball. The oldtimers watched my odd stance and told me not to use the sights.
My answer, purloined from Himself, was that someone had gone to lots of effort to put the sights on that gun. It seemed ungrateful not to use them. On that first qualification, I believe the score was 97%. I’d learned everything from what Jeff wrote and the pictures shown in a magazine.
I got Cooper on Handguns. I still have it. It’s not for sale.
In the 1980s, I’d wandered to a sheriff’s department and somehow ended up teaching "officer survival" classes with like-minded pretenders. I had video by then and made use of Jeff’s Mindset lecture in every class. Over the years, that tape – now grainy and aging -- was shown to recruits, reserve classes, regular in-service types and – eventually – college criminal justice students taking my "in-service-type" classes to see if they wanted to be involved in our life of crime.
How many lives has that video saved? I’m not sure. I know that one youngster kept me in the substation for several hours after the end of his midnight shift, talking almost uncontrollably about the situation he’d found himself in the night before.
On patrol, he’d been looking for trouble. We’d call that "yellow." When he saw a pedestrian along a rural highway at about two A.M., he went to orange. I’ll save the rest of the sordid tale except to say that our young cop didn’t have to shoot, he got the offender in custody and went home safe at the end of the day.
He was speaking in Mindset-ese while telling the tale. And he thanked me for saving his life. I was embarrassed. I hadn’t saved him. You did Jeff. And he isn’t the only one.
Ken Hackathorn said "Jeff Cooper invented us." I say that we took your material and presented it, some of us even giving you credit. What you found, refined and taught brought us a long way. Now, the hard part .We have to continue the work.
We shall. God speed, Boss. We’ll miss you. -- Rich Grassi
I hope and pray that my two-year-old son can have someone add to his life what Col. Cooper added to mine. The colonel's wisdom extended far beyond technical knowledge of firearms and shooting and deep into the matters of honor and manhood. We were blessed to have him among us and we will all miss the additional contributions he would have made if he had had more time. -- Thomas M. Goethe
A great voice stilled; a vast library shuttered.
The four men of the 20th century that I most admire are TR, Selous, Cooper, and Aagaard. I was fortunate to spend a bit of time with two of them, Cooper and Aagaard. Col. Cooper and Finn Aagarrd have always been my favorite gun scribes. I waited like a kid at Christmas each month for their words.
But both taught me so much more than skill-at-arms. They taught me how a proper man conducts himself. They taught be to appreciate. They taught me to marvel. They taught me the value of America, the last, great hope of the civilized world. They taught me to strive to be better in all things.
And now I raise a glass to those who had to leave the party early, Weidman's Heil! -- Steve Pegram
"O felicem illum qui non praesens tantum sed etiam cogitatus emendat! O felicem qui sic aliquem vereri potest, ut ad memoriam quoque eius se componat atque ordinat!" "Fortunate is the man whose presence or the mere thought of whom is cause for self-correction! Fortunate are those who so venerate such a man that the memory of him is cause for self-betterment ." - Lucio Anneo Seneca With profound gratitude to Col. Cooper and deepest condolences to his family. -- Richard Iotti
As to a eulogy for Jeff, I have none. The best I can do is to express my loss through teaching what he taught me. Actions, not words, are important here. When Jeff sold Gunsite, I called him and told him, with the problems going on, I would prefer not to teach "under the auspices of the American Pistol Institute" as it was then. I asked him if I could teach "Under your personal auspices". He laughted and said, "Of course, you can!" Thus, my eulogy will be through actions, an area in which I have some minor competence, rather than in words where I do not. -- Les Bengtson
I was talking with one of the people I went to API with and we both feel the same on how our lives have changed. First meeting the Col. and talking with him and his wonderful wife . They are both first class people. From the way The school was set up to the Brownies at the end . Getting to read the Col writings and ACTUALLY understanding what he wrote. He has change all of our lives so much and for the good. We need to reread all of his books again and again let us never to forget about a truly a GREAT man, father, husband, and teacher of the highest level. -- Daymond Miller
When my parents first began to realize my penchant for shooting, they indulged me with a subscription to Guns & Ammo. From the age of ten onward, I would look for Cooper's Corner, and everything else he would write. I insisted on joining the Marine Corps partially due to the understated exploits he shared with all of us. While my parents were to lament my conservatism, I feel those beliefs stand truer now than ever before and know that the writings of Col. Cooper helped and guided me to arrive at them. Country, family, work worth doing, all of these seem quaint to many, but not to him. He shared with us his belief in all those things and by writing about them, helped lead me from a wandering kid to a responsible man. I never met him, but feel like many I'm sure, that they knew him and were glad of it. -- Lew Gosnell
All over the world the fighters of World War II are dying. This week Colonel Jeff Cooper died. I had been expecting this event after my last visit to the Sconce, but the news of it still rattled me. I have had the opportunity to know him since I first went to Gunsite in 1991, and the pleasure of seeing and talking to him most years at the SCI Convention. But Jeff's writings over the years filled in any gaps in actual visiting, while they kept me motivated to learn new things. I will miss hearing or reading him declaim "What's it for?", but I automatically think that myself now.
Jeff had the power of intellect and wisdom of the philosopher, combined with the spirit and aggressiveness of the warrior. We are not going to see his like for a very long time, if ever. Evidence of his power to influence and lead may be seen in the API/Gunsite family now based on the Internet. My condolences to the Cooper family for their loss. My congratulations to Jeff for once again leading from the front. -- Jim Dodd
There will be many more eloquent and studied tributes to Jeff Cooper. So much so that I hesitate to add my meager contribution. However, that would not be right. Very few people have had more impact on my life than this man. This is my acknowledgement of that impact. I consider myself blessed above most men in that I was born to loving, caring and intelligent parents and have a wonderful wife and son (who’s name means "little raven"). I have also been blessed in my association with great people I am married to one of them. I probably had very little more to do with that than I did with choosing my parents.
I recall in my late teen years writing a sophomoric letter to Jeff Cooper. Well, I was probably a sophomore at the time so that was appropriate. Imagine my surprise and excitement when he promptly wrote a response! He responded to every letter I wrote thereafter. I have come to understand that one measure of greatness is in how you treat the "little people". Over the years, Jeff became my mentor, my friend, one of my role models and, one of my few heroes. None of those are terms I use lightly. I may not have agreed with every opinion he held (certainly I did with the vast majority) but I listened to everything he said or wrote. If I initially disagreed, I would automatically reexamine that topic to see where I might have gone wrong. If, in the end, I decided that I did disagree, it was with respect and reverence.
While I feel a sense of loss at the passing of such an important influence in my life, I must say that I rejoice in the fact that he lived. That God allowed me to run across his path and sit at his feet and, to some small degree, learn what he taught amazes me. He, and Janelle, taught us much more than just how to shoot. They taught us how to live!
Jeff Cooper was more than a man. He was a life force. Few people have had a more positive effect on the lives of as many. The man is no longer among us, the force remains and there will be no one to fill his shoes. We, the remaining, must simply drive on. It is as he would have wanted it. To steal and mangle the words of another great man "Seldom, in the course of human history, have so many owed so much to just one man." Godspeed, Dear Friend. -- Jim Higginbotham
In 1980, at the suggestion of a friend, I signed up for a class in "Basic Pistol" at the American Pistol Institute, in Paulden Arizona. My friend was new to shooting, while I thought I pretty much knew what there was to know (in that way I was a typical American male) and so I showed up expecting very little.
What I got was quite different.
The class was taught by Col. Jeff Cooper. Col. Cooper, as most people who read his works or dealt with him indirectly - as I did - called him, was a commanding presence. He was loud but not profane, gruff but always civil, and a wonderful combination of earthy and erudite. He represented a certain ideal of American manhood; John Wayne without the mincy little shorts and man-bag. He'd 'seen the elephant' and served in the Marines and as a private military instructor in Latin America.
He was also by my standards (and pretty much by any contemporary standards) a racist and sexist, and his conservativism dial was set so far to the right as to be literally medieval.
He codified the body of doctrine and training that became the modern small-arms manual, and served as the center of a loose web of men and women who advance and teach the art of practical shooting worldwide. Our military and police today are taught by instructors almost all of whom learned at or from those who learned at, Jeff's school.
There I was affectionately - I hope - known as "the hippie" and it was only my knowledge of the 30 Years' War (a subject he challenged me on out of the blue) and some other random historical facts I managed to dredge out of memory that got him to tolerate me. I was a very good student, if only a decent shot, and managed not to piss off any of the other instructors too badly (except for Clint Smith when he asked me the "Bozo" question).
Col. Cooper had stage presence to burn. He used that presence - all of it - in the service of his teaching and craft, and after hours in wide-ranging discussions in his library with the students who - like all good students of a sensei - gathered around to soak up his mannerisms and wisdom in the hope that they would translate into mastery.
I never became a master, but the things he taught me in that class - and in later discussions - really did become core "truths" for me. I may have completely disagreed with Col. Cooper about female police officers (who he called "copchicks") and on the root causes of political issues in Africa and Latin America - but he was always willing to engage in respectful argument, and when you'd made a point he couldn't parry, he'd grunt softly and acknowledge it generously.
I hope to grow into someone with strong opinions and still keep that kind of honesty, and if I got nothing else from the Colonel, I'll take that.
Col. Cooper and others of his ilk that I have been lucky enough to know represent a real kind of uniquely American ideal that I hope never goes out of style.
His writings - many not for sensitive eyes - can be found in many places.
In the middle of a shoot-off (class-ending competition that settled your rank within the class - none of this touchy-feely non-hierarchical learning for him) he stopped two of us, fixed me with a stare, and reminded me that "You can't miss fast enough to win, Mark."
Like many things he said, that is still and will always be absolutely true. Mark Danziger
I've grown up knowing the the Colonel mostly through his writings, starting in Guns and Ammo. One of my friends in high school was a big Elmer Keith fan, but I preferred the Colonel. As much as you can know a man through his writings, I know Colonel Jeff Cooper and it has been my priveledge. I read everything the gun mags wrote about Gunsite, but didn't make it to Gunsite until October of 2004. My original class was scheduled for April of 2003, but the Army decided they needed me in Iraq.
By this time, Colonel Cooper was not able to teach of course, but it was certainly a treat to go to the Sconce on Friday after the shootoff. I'll treasure forever the memory of meeting him and Janelle.
The second time I went to Gunsite for a Veteran's Carbine course in August of 2005, Jeff was feeling well enough to go downstairs to the armory with us. He showed us the Jim West Co-Pilot and visited with us, submitted to pictures and so on. The high point for me was when I was explaining the Scout concept to a couple of "newbies" to Gunsite. (After all, I had been to two whole classes!) I glanced over to the Colonel and asked if I had it right. He indicated approval and I was thrilled! Jeff pursued excellence, in himself and in teaching and leading others.
If America had an aristocracy, folks like Jeff and Janelle would be part of it. He taught all of us so much and only part of it was skill at arms. Maybe most of all, he showed us how to live.
Vaya con dios, Colonel! -- John Severson
I began reading Lt. Col. Coopers writings in the early sixties. He was my primary influence in all things shooting. One of my proudest moments was receiving my certificate from him at Gunsite. It's sad to lose a childhood hero. Our loss is great. My prayers go out to the Cooper family. Every time I practice my presentation, I will think of the man who created it and taught it to me. A picture of me receiving my certificate from the Colonel hangs on my wall. A truly great man. -- Ed Cassidy
I first became a fan of Jeff Cooper when I was in my early 20s, in the mid-1970s, through his column in "Guns & Ammo" and the book "Cooper on Handguns," which I read and reread until it was in tatters. In those days I used to hang out in gun stores a lot, and a prime topic of conversation was always Jeff Cooper. The opinions of other gun writers, most of whom published more often, didn't particularly interest us. Unlike the others, Jeff didn't write an article unless he had something new and worthwhile to say, and he expressed himself in a style which was clean and vivid, cogent and concise. There was also a charismatic personality that shone through, that made you think "I would like to meet this man," even, "I would like to earn this man's respect." With the latter in mind, in the mid-1980s I sent him a comic book story I had illustrated on the Warsaw ghetto uprising, very RTKBA oriented, which I thought might interest him. He responded by asking me to do a few logos for API and then to illustrate "To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth." I did that with a 250 class as part of the payment.
This past year I worked with Jeff on "Shotluck," his latest collection. With his mobility as limited as it was, the book was his main diversion. He said he hoped to live long enough to hold a copy in his hands, but unfortunately that did not happen. The book is slated for release in mid to late November, and it should be a welcome opportunity for us all to once again enjoy his presence.
I've gotten to know a few larger-than-life figures, but Jeff was the foremost among them and the one who had the most influence on me. There were a number of things about him that impressed and inspired me He was an original thinker with a wide-ranging intellectual curiosity. He was interested in--and seemed to know something about--nearly everything.
He had an exacting commitment to the truth; when he told you about something he had done, you knew that he wasn't "improving the story." He had an appreciation of excellence in every form of human endeavor, and in his presence people always strove to be at their best. He had an adventurous spirit, which he displayed not only in hunting, expeditions, and war, but in founding Gunsite in his mid-fifties. He had tremendous energy. (I still can't believe he sent personal responses to everyone who wrote him, at least until his last few years.)
Taking Kipling's "If" as a checklist, I believe that Jeff could answer "yes" to nearly every one of the desiderata laid out. He was a gentleman of the old school, the type who goes to war with the same enthusiasm with which he goes hunting, except that he doesn't take war quite as seriously.
He was that rare person who had dedicated his life to his passion and really fulfilled his potential, becoming what he was meant to be. Most of all, I was impressed with Jeff as an exemplary family man, one who had been blessed to find his "better half." I don't think he could have accomplished a fraction of what he did without Janelle, but then earning the love of Janelle may have been the greatest of all his achievements.
It was a pleasure and a privilege to know him. -- Paul Kirchner
The Col. Cooper is gone... I’ve been expecting it for a decade and a half....
My father instilled a love of weaponry in general and firearms in particular from a very early age. (In addition to a love of history.) He would bring home armloads of pre-read gun magazines from parishioners who shared his interest in firearms. So, I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s reading Keith, Skelton, and Cooper. Men of a different age. I mourn all their deaths for how it diminishes my life. Selfish, I know.
I got "To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Tell the Truth" around 1987. It was one of a handful of books that I felt worthy of re-reading.
I ended up at Gunsite in a round-about manner. When I took a interest in firearms for self-protection, (rather than a subject of general interest) I read Mas Ayoob’s articles with great interest. When I told my wife I wanted to go to a shooting school, she agreed and asked which one. I indicated that I wanted to go to the Lethal Force Institute.
Luckily, Fate intervened. The LFI class I wanted was full. My wife (much smarter than I) insisted that I pick another school. That was easy, Gunsite. Back in ’92 these two schools were the big dogs in a pretty small pack. Late November, early December of 92 found me in Chino Valley, AZ. This was the closing stages of Orange Gunsite. Richard Gee was already lurking about. It seems, I had arrived in the nick of time. The Col. taught almost all the class room lectures. He actually spent some time on the range each day.
This brought special feelings when we heard the 3 wheeler or the VW Combi show up. The next thing you know the man himself is right next to you giving you correction or a few words of praise for executing a move properly.
I see people teaching the Weaver with the body cranked (bladed) all around. I am proud to be able to say "I studied the Weaver under Col Cooper, and that is NOT the way it is done"
I started by saying that I had been expecting the Col’s death for a decade and a half. While Col Cooper spent a lot of time with us during the week, it was obvious that he was slowing down. I was very sad when one student asked the Col to do a little shooting demo on Saturday. The Col demurred, saying his bursitis was acting up. I was sad for him that he was unable to something he enjoyed. I was sad for myself that I missed the opportunity to watch one of the Great Ones shoot.
My graduation certificate is signed by Col Cooper. I scanned it so that if I lose the original, I still have a copy. It is irreplaceable.
On Saturday afternoon, I walked over to the Sconce. As I neared the house I noticed my footsteps were making a lot of noise. The house was surrounded by gravel. You could be barefoot and still not approach without making noise. Going to the front door, flanked by the murder holes and trapped by a wall, was one more indication of the man’s tactical thinking.
I brought my copy of "To Ride" which the Col graciously autographed for me. Our time at the Sconce was way too brief. This is a man you want to sit on the porch with and watch the sun go down while discussing matters great and small.
I knew the man in his capacity as instructor and host. And am glad for the week I had under his tutelage. I wish I had the opportunity to have a more personal relationship with him. I’m sure many feel that way. But a man only has so much time to spread around. I continued to read what he wrote. Some things I agreed with, Sometimes I would shake my head at some of his proclamations. I have been jumped on in this forum for taking issues with some of the things he said.
Which always lead me to think, I’m sure the Col would hear me out politely and offer well reasoned discourse. He could do that, being an Uncommon Man in the Age of the Common Man. God Speed Colonel! -- Peter Burlingame
Please send my heart-felt condolences to family of Col.Cooper. He was a great American who will be sorely missed and impossible to replace. -- James Raglin
The Colonel was a great man; made greater by the people who would serve him, and for the fact that he served so many, so profoundly, so well. So long, Colonel. -- Dave Jankowsky
My answering machine brought me the sad news when I returned home last night. A friend had called and left the message. Alvin & Jim described the feeling exactly, and I've only felt this way about a very few whom I deeply loved and respected. As a boy, I didn't idolize sports figures or Hollywood celebrities. My idols were Jeff Cooper and Skeeter Skelton. I used to dream of going to Gunsite and finally made a couple of trips in 2001. I doubt most idols live up one's expectation but meeting, learning from and simply conversing with Jeff Cooper certainly exceeded anything I had in mind. I remember the first day of the 270 as we were prone on the firing line. I heard Jeff call to Giles Stock "Giles, straighten than man out!" and thought to myself. "Boy, I'd sure hate to be that guy" when Giles walked over to me and kicked my boots into the proper position. At the 250 I did an in-holster magazine exchange to top off my 1911. I guess I did it rather inelegantly because The Colonel showed me how to grasp the butt between my index and middle finger while pressing the floorplate with my thumb. "This way" he said, "we do it with a little style." I wish I had known him as well as some of you knew him. I wrote to him after I visited Lexington Green and Concord Bridge because I knew he would understand what a patriot would feel upon such a visit. He kindly replied with a letter. The world is a lesser place now. Janelle and the family are in my prayers. -- Thad Coyne
Jeff was a mentor to many and an exemplary Guru to all those who took an interest in his instruction and philosophy and who listened to what he had to say and studied what he wrote. Jeff "took the time" to help all who would seek his help a rare quality in today's world of "me firsts". There were three better men in my life who influenced my life to the betterment of my life and my family. A Connecticut State Police officer, my grandfather and Colonel Cooper. They are all now in a better place, not one above the other but rather side by side. If heaven is a fox hole then I would suggest Lucifer seek argument elsewhere. He cannot win against this trio. -- Chuck Barker
I discovered Jeff and his writings in the early eighties through Cooper's Corner in Guns and Ammo magazine. As many did, I looked forward to each issue and usually read his column first, or leafed through the magazine saving the best for last.
I first met Jeff at the Whittington Center for a pistol class. I arrived on Saturday evening and made my way to his cabin where several others were visiting him. He was sipping a glass of tequila and holding court; I stayed to the side and watched and listened. On Sunday morning I got up my nerve and went back to the cabin and knocked on the door "ENTER!" was the response. He was sitting there alone as I walked in and sat down next to him. We talked for about 30 minutes and he allowed me to examine the then new Steyr Scout. Not wanting to wear out my welcome I left...elated.
We met again at Whittington for a rifle class and at Gunsite for the first Safari Prep class. He was present and lectured in the classroom and was present on the range most of the time for these events. Although slowing down, when he planted his feet and began to speak he exuded a power and charisma I had never witnessed before or since.
About 4 years ago my wife and I were on vacation in Arizona and I contacted Lindy to inquire if a visit to Jeff and Janelle at the Sconce could be arranged; she
indicated that that would be fine and that she would drive up from Phoenix too. The 5 of us lunched on Janelle's cuisine and the conversation was lighthearted and pleasant; Jeff was most relaxed and jovial; knowing how Jeff appreciated the ladies I had instructed my wife Libby to plant a big kiss on him before we left which she did...we laughed about that one the rest of the day. That was the last time I was with the great man.
Jeff and I corresponded many times and he was a great pen-pal. I treasure his letters and reread them. Jeff Cooper has been a major influence on me. I truly gained strength and insight into what is important in this life from him. Although he was stern and had little patience for foolishness, he always demonstrated a tenderness and love for Janelle and Lindy when they were present that I found quite heartwarming; the guy was really and "old softie" when it came to his family. Lindy dropped a copy of "Jock of the Bushveld" when I was at Gunsite and damaged it. She said something along the lines of " I hope Dad doesn't get mad". I thought this was amusing as the possibility of him reprimanding her seemed pretty remote to me.
Although we all knew his passage was inevitable it is still difficult to accept. I have been saddened beyond words since Monday, but he was obviously in excruciating pain which has now been replaced with the elation that is eternity with God. If and when I make it there I intend to look him up, share a drink and talk of whatever one talks about in Heaven. I asked Jeff one time if he realized how much he had influenced others in such a positive way and he said "no". I hope now he knows. There is a saying that one should never meet one's heroes because of the inevitable disappointed. That was not the case with Jeff Cooper; not even close. Goodbye old friend with love and respect beyond my ability to express. -- Mark Avery
I was in the gun business in the 70's and knew of Jeff from "Cooper on Handguns" (1974). In June 1979 I took a basic course taught by Jeff in Houston. The completion certificate says "Expert with the 45 Auto Pistol. I was pretty proud of myself, but we also got to see Jeff shoot and that took the some of the wind out of my sails. I consider myself privileged to take a course taught almost entirely by Jeff and to see him shoot.
Then in September 1980 I made the trip to Gunsite. I remember the Sconce and Jeff holding court in the Armory downstairs, the gravity gate on the front porch and of course the training and Jeff's wisdom on many topics. I recall riding in the cab of the VW with Jeff driving us from range to range, a little one on one time with the Master. After I got back from Gunsite I found out my uncle Mike and Aunt Marge had a weekly card game (pinochle I think) with Jeff and Janelle, while Mike and Jeff were stationed together in the Marines. I was deeply touched by the nice things Jeff said about my uncle, in the commentaries, when he passed away last year. Jeff has touched and changed so many lives, he was an exceptional man and contributed much to the world beyond just the Modern Technique. Semper Fi Colonel. -- Bob Hanna
I first became acquainted with Jeff Cooper in Cooper’s Corner. It was the only reason I subscribed to the magazine for many years. Though I never exchanged conversation with him, I had the privilege of meeting him when our 2001 carbine class sat in on his Wednesday afternoon lecture in a 250 masters class. His carriage and presentation confimed my impression that he was the Master. Simplicity, integrity, truth and elegance come to mind when I think of Jeff Cooper. His independent thought, by itself, in his writings, was a joy to experience. Thank you, Sir. Our deepest sympathies to the family. He will live on with us in our children and grandchildren and in teaching. -- Joe Madison
On Monday I went to the range and shot the LW Commander with hardball. I began reading Lt. Col. Coopers writings in the early sixties. He was my primary influence in all things shooting. One of my proudest moments was receiving my certificate from him at Gunsite. It's sad to lose a childhood hero. Our loss is great. My prayers go out to the Cooper family. Every time I practice my presentation, I will think of the man who created it and taught it to me. A picture of me receiving my certificate from the Colonel hangs on my wall. A truly great man. -- Ed Cassidy
LtCol Cooper was legendary to me, a man truly larger than life. My early training in the practical use of firearms was conducted by capable men who had learned from Jeff Cooper and who were imbued with many of his finest attributes a striving for excellence, a love of country, a determination that men and women should be strong and responsibly control their environments, absolute confidence that some things are right and some things are wrong and that we should always do right....Where shall I stop? How many shall I list?
It was a dream of years to meet LtCol Cooper, to attend a 250 Masters Class some years ago. I "knew" Jeff Cooper through his writings, which were always well-formed, to the point, illuminating, strongly stated, sometimes controversial, and even lifesaving. I also "knew" him through acquaintances and friends who had trained directly under him, who called him Jeff and friend, who always had the highest respect and admiration for him, who often loved him without reservation.
When I finally met LtCol Cooper, I had expected to be intimidated by his command presence, to be somewhat overwhelmed by his knowledge and authority. Perhaps I had built him in my imagination into too much of an iconic figure. When I met him, I was impressed by all those things, yet what I remember most, what surprised and thrilled me, was how much I liked him. How willing and eager he was to share, to learn, to teach, to make us strong and capable. He seemed to me to have a marvelously dry humor about him that complemented well his strong opinions on so many subjects.
In the pleasure of that experience, with the recognition of an instant fondness for him coupled with well-earned respect, I also immediately felt sadness, sadness that I had not personally known LtCol Cooper for years, that I had not shared correspondence with him and engaged him in conversation both in person and at some remove. I envied all those many, many fine men and women who had had that opportunity. That community of men and women, the one that we consider to be Ravenclan, is the community with which I am most comfortable, with which I feel at home. That community surely owes its existence to LtCol Cooper, to the ideals that he expressed in his writings and in his life.
We all owe a debt to him, one that we must repay in how we live our lives and how we teach those who will only ever know him through his body of work. It's not just about shooting. It is honor, and duty, and love, which many of us learned from our parents and which was reinforced and exemplified by LtCol Cooper.
God speed, and farewell. -- Brian Wesley Simmons
A great voice stilled; a vast library shuttered.
The four men of the 20th century that I most admire are TR, Selous, Cooper, and Aagaard. I was fortunate to spend a bit of time with two of them, Cooper and Aagaard. Col. Cooper and Finn Aagarrd have always been my favorite gun scribes. I waited like a kid at Christmas each month for their words.
But both taught me so much more than skill-at-arms. They taught me how a proper man conducts himself. They taught be to appreciate. They taught me to marvel. They taught me the value of America, the last, great hope of the civilized world. They taught me to strive to be better in all things.
And now I raise a glass to those who had to leave the party early, Weidmans Heil! -- Semper Paratus
I have no intention of trying to put into words what knowing the Colonel and the Coopers has meant to Ruthanne and me over the last 14 years. Some things are better not attempted, and for me this is one of them. What I will share, though are some memories that have helped lighten the sense of loss over the last few days. The first of these occurred in the Armory after my 250. My stock Government Model hammer and grip safety had chewed a rather spectacular hole in the web of my hand. (I just looked at the scar, as I often have over the last few days.) While speaking to the Colonel he noticed and casually took my hand in his to examine the wound. He commented that I should have the hammer bobbed, and I told him the Gunsmithy had done so, but to little avail.
What I remember so vividly about this, though, is the incredibly gentle touch with which he examined my damaged hand. I did not expect those large, obviously experienced, hands to be capable of such gentleness. It said much about the man. The second, is a memory of the Colonel in his striped pajamas sitting across the counter from me in one of the competitor housing units at Whittington. I was eating something, I don’t recall what, and he was preparing a Spam and red onion feast for himself. We could have been in the kitchen of any family home, anywhere, it was as simple and natural a moment as could possibly be.
Yet there we were, novice and master face to face sharing the simple business of living. We talked about many things, one of which was Scout rifles, and I still recall his dismissal of the then-current weight debate with the comment, "The right weight for a Scout is whatever you’re willing to carry all day, every day". Made sense then, and it still does.
The third, is the day on the range behind Jeff’s Place when he was introducing those present to the Dragoon. Having enough of the grousing about recoil, he bellowed "Where is Ruthanne, I want her to shoot this", which she did all four feet nine inches of her without hesitation or complaint, and much to his evident satisfaction. Point made.
There are other moments, and Ruthanne has a few of her own which she may decide to share, but those three have been kept front and center in my mind, on call to balance the darker thoughts that could, all too easily, overwhelm. I am a better person for having known the Colonel, and because of him Mrs. Cooper, and Lindy, and Amy and the other members of that family, and this family, I’ve been privileged to meet over the years.
Thank you is much too small an expression, but it will have to do. Godspeed, Colonel, and thank you. -- Dave Morningstar
With the Col.s passing I just had to write about one my favorite times I spent with him. It was after my 350 class some years ago, I had the opportunity of sitting with him in front of the fire place at his house talking about all kinds of things. We talked about sheep hunting in Alaska and then at some point the conversation turned to the social shotgun. I told him that I had tried to get my wife interested in using the shotgun as an additional weapon that she should become proficient with. Her reply to me was " I have my 45 for things that are close and my 30-06 for things that are far away, why do I need a shotgun"?
It is hard to go down the road of what Col. Cooper meant to me and the effect he has had on me. Others on the list have done a much better job than I ever could. Yet somehow no words can ever be enough. He will be missed ....... I will miss him. -- Curt Sather
At age 29, in 1978, I attended my API 250. I had read much of what Colonel Cooper had written, and I sought to study at the feet of the master. The Colonel was himself intelligent, articulate, supremely competent, and entirely admirable–a gentleman of the old school. The course proved to be the most effective educational experience in my life.
Less than six months later, my father passed away early and unexpectedly. In the years since then, the Colonel, unbeknownst to both of us, filled the role that my father could no longer fill. Most of this took place through the medium of the Gunsite Gossip newsletter and its successor, Jeff Cooper’s Commentaries. The Colonel certainly taught me guncraft, but, equally important, he gave me advice about life and taught me how to teach. As the professor that I have become, those other lessons have been every bit as important as the guncraft to me, to my children, and to my students.
Colonel Jeff Cooper, I owe you much; may you rest in peace, and may I always remember and pass on your lessons. -- Richard Wabrek
As I sit here in the terminal at SFO after a 12 hour flight, having spent the last month mostly out of touch in Japan and China, I am stunned and saddened at the news which I have just received. Though the total time I personally spent with Jeff Cooper amounts to mere hours, I feel as if I have lost a close personal mentor. I know I am not alone in this feeling. This man completely changed my life. All I can say is that I spent this past week in Shanghai applying what Jeff taught us all, constantly thinking about my surroundings and keeping in an appropriate mental condition to deal with issues. While I always try to live the Wednesday lecture lifestyle, it is remarkable just how many times I thought about Jeff and his teachings- and had occasion to apply them- this past week. I was looking forward to perhaps seeing him and Janelle again next week at the GAS. I will always appreciate the opportunity I had to know him and will always regret not having the opportunity to say "thanks" in person, one last time. My thoughts are with Janelle and Jeff's family. And Jeff lives on through all of us who learned from him, and those who we will teach. -- George Tekmitchov
I somehow learned that the Mobile Pistol Shooters, an IPSC club, meets at the Styx River Range located at the Styx River Exit off I-10. Multiple Gunsite Grad Charlie Stokes of Mobile is there. We meet and talk. I;m interested in this "game" as I carry a gun routinely. You need to go to Gunsite Charlie tells me. What's Gunsite? I also met my dear friend and Hunting partner Silver Hill Bill that day, and later his lovely and recently late Wife Kathy. After Gunsite through MPSA I met my good friend Officer Greg Pate of the Pensacola Police Dept who is also a multiple Orange Grad. Thanks Jeff for founding IPSC.
Saturday 23 June 1990 I received my Marksman I Certificate of Achievement for API250 That week changed my life. I had always been considered a gun nut as I had been packing since I was seventeen pursuant to the December 22 attempted armed Robbery & Kidnapping of Dad...Momma signed for my S&W M27-2 6.5" Radicalized by Jail for CCW in East Baton Rouge Parrish , La in Jan 85 I was still not comfortable with myself that I was always armed as a civilian. I wasn't "Normal" We won in 87 "Shall Issue or Deny in 90 Days " "Right to Carry" It wasn't "RIGHT" to carry so Americans were told my the Anti's Friends would ask why are you so paranoid? I am not. I am a prepared Boy Scout. Be prepared!
The Combat Mindset, the Wednesday lecture, and the numerous civilians who studied at Gunsite that week (there was a 499 also in session) felt like a big extended family Yes! I am "properly armed"\all the time. Yes! It is correct to fight them when you meat the Elephant. I always "knew" these things from American History but we are in the post Vietnam Era now. Self reliant attitude is obsolete so we are told by the Flower Children. And here at this school, this movement for change, was a larger than life Action Hero Jeff Cooper. Colonel Cooper invalidated deftly with his intellect their entire pacifist culture. Thumbing through "Gargantuan Gunsite Gossip" at the Pro Shop was a Eureka moment. Cooper a philosophical Guru! Gunsite was an epiphany experience that imparted to me far more than just the Modern Technique of the Pistol. It validated who I am.
I have always believed in the afterlife. We will all join the Colonel on the Big Hunt one day. Thanks Colonel! Should I ever lose a Gunfight I know the Colonel would appreciate that I died with Gun in hand rather than surrender to the Goblins. I wish to declaim Cooke briefly from "Quote the Raven--seventeen points to ponder"
Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,
and whether he's slow or spry,
It isn't the fact that you're dead that counts,
But only, how did you die?
I briefly met the col. at an nra convention. have read his books and indeed saw a small blurb in a gun rag about getting good training and then gunsite was mentioned. I called and talked to bill jeans, I showed up with a new to me colt officers acp, stock out of the box. I had fired one box of ammo through the pistol, and on bills recommendation bought a summer special as my holster. since I am left handed after the first day I turned the pistol over to the smithy for dehorning and an ambi safety, trigger job. got it back the second day and started to work. I certainly was not the best in my class, I went home and worked hard on my lessons, came back for 350, 223,556,shotgun, tac rifle, learned that most of what you hear about shooting from the "experts" is pure and unadulterated bs, made some good friends, brought my wife for 250, 350, learned about what the warrior spirit was all about, something that was not taught to me and I had no idea that something like that existed.
Someone told me about the raven list. All of this has taught me much about taking care of myself when in perilous environs, and self reliance.
Thanks Col. -- Alex Coco Md
I have been reading
Col. Cooper's publications beginning with "Cooper on Handguns" when I
was in high school. Since becoming a police officer, I have never been
without at least one 1911 and the ability to use it. As the old story goes
"there goes a legend."
Col. Cooper had the great good fortune to be a legend for some time while still alive. We all mourn the passing of an exemplary teacher, however, what is more important here is that Col. Cooper sought out excellence, not mediocrity, and constantly reminded us to excel in our personal lives by his example.
The most beneficial attribute that Col. Cooper has imbued in me is common sense, a highly volatile and uncommon characteristic seen in folks today. We will all be the lesser for his passing. -- Kevin M. Ulam
Due to an extended hospital stay I hadn’t heard of Jeff's death until some days past. I have had the great pleasure to have been a guest in Jeff & Janelle's home on more than a number of occasions. It was always a wonderful experience. Jeff and Janelle "took in" a young man I had been mentoring for some years and changed his life forever. He had the privilege of calling them grandma & grandpa Cooper. [ no small gift/allowance]. I will always remember their kind, patient, thoughtful & giving manner to me & him. Jeff has past something on to that youngster that he will carry forth for the rest of his life. God Bless them both! And for Jeff--I think of the old German folksong written in the Napoleonic wars, and sung mourning the loss of a "good comrade"....Ich hatt' einen Kameraden. Farewell dear friend. -- Dennis Pegg
"Not only was the Teacher wise, but also he imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true." -- Ecclesiastes 12:9 NIV How true of Colonel Cooper. -- Ken Campbell
I began to get interested in handguns about the age of 12, having an understanding Mother help me secure my first one a Smith M19, with 6 1/2 barrel. The reason for this choice was due in large part to my correspondence with Jeff Cooper. I still have the four letters that he wrote in reply to I am sure "stupid" kid questions. He addressed the letters, Dear Mr. Watson", which really impressed even a dumb kid of 12, as even then I just knew that by reading my letters he knew that I was an youngster. Well that was 36 years ago, and over that time my admiration for the man has never wavered, in fact it has gotten stronger. Along the way, I was taught that the 1911, was a trusted friend and protector, and that Coopers way was the way to handle and shoot this wonderful beast. During my early Police Career I fretted and fumed about having to carry a "36" caliber. But Jeff Cooper was more then the .45, he was identified with, he was a true original thinker, that harkened back to the old values, those that said; you open doors for ladies, use of profane speech regularly shows a lack of vocabulary, truth, honor and country, still are worth living and dying for. So while I never got the oppurtunity to meet him, I still treasure the day that I saw him zoom by on his four wheeler while I was at Gunsite taking the 223 course. Vaya con dios Amigo -- Bruce Watson
My condolences to Col. Cooper's family and friends, we must rejoice in the knowledge that we will see him again. Heaven's streets are better guarded, caps correctly raked. Since the age of 12 I have read the work of this esteemed American, my skill at arms, mastery of the English language and personal character have benefited greatly from his writings. His honesty, love of country, and skills will not be matched. -- Lee Jones
A better writer/author I never read. Thank you for all that you have written that I read and have read. Gurus never die; they live through the writings and teachings that we read, practice and live. Yol Bolsun,. - Richard Belton
"Yol Bolsun" means "May there be a road." It originated among the Tschari of Tibet who are the fount from which sprung the "Ancient Ones" of the Han Valley of China who are the ancestors of the Pechenegs of Asia Minor who are in turn the ancestors of the Mongols. It is still used as a greeting/farewell in the Anatolia Plateau region of Turkey/Asia Minor. I thought it appropriate since Mr. Cooper was an avid historian. - R.B.
Colonel Cooper, like John Wayne and Louis L'Amour, taught we who grew up in the late 60's and early 70's what it means to be men. I shall cherish having learned from his wisdom, which I learned of from your website, and from Guns and Ammo magazine. I have a copy of The Art Of The Rifle which I shall pass on to my son along with my Louis L'Amour collection. May GOD grant Colonel Cooper the reward which he deserves, and may his friends as well as his admirers keep his memory and wisdom alive. Please simply pass on that there are those of us who will keep his memory alive and pray for his family. -- D. Brian Casady, RPh
I only met him a time or two. But then, I was just a little girl living in Big Bear during the late 60's and early 70's. But several memories of Mr. Cooper (because that is how we referred to all adults back in those days) have become part of our family lore. There were the Christmas gifts --- wonderful treasure troves of delicious snacks and goodies --- that he would leave on our doorstep rather mysteriously. There were the anecdotes, some amusing and some heroic, that my father, the local Baptist pastor, would tell us of things that Jeff Cooper had said and done.
Then there was the year of the great snowstorms, when Big Bear Valley was completely isolated from the outside world, buried under snow so deep and thick that roofs caved in. We laughed ourselves silly over the fact that Jeff Cooper had taken to wearing a "Let It Snow" button with a bullet hole in it.
Years passed. Jeff Cooper had become the stuff of legends in our family, one of the many people who had been part of those long ago Big Bear days. I became, for a variety of reasons, interested in personal self-defense. Imagine my surprise to re-discover Jeff Cooper through one of his books. "Daddy," I said excitedly to my father, "I had no idea!"...no idea of all that Jeff Cooper had accomplished in his lifetime, no idea who he really was. After all, we knew him as a teacher and a colorful local character. My father had known more, of course, and was surprised at all I'd forgotten. But, as a little girl, guns and all that hadn't really interested me. I remembered a kind and funny guy who surprised us with presents and who shot his "Let It Snow" button. -- Rebecca Prewett
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