Bratt icon dies at 84

Published 9:38 am Wednesday, April 13, 2011

For more than half a century, Lawrence Cooper was a fixture at the crossroads in the Bratt community. That legacy ended Sunday when the 84-year-old businessman died.

Cooper, a native and resident of Bratt, Fla., owned and operated Lawrence Cooper Grocery Store from 1956 until the family retired last year. He also owned Cooper Produce from 1955 through 1988.

Atmore’s Lowell McGill, long-time friend and brother-in-law of Cooper, said the businessman was successful in many ways.

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“Lawrence was a very good businessman,” McGill said. “Not only with Cooper’s Grocery, but with his produce business as well. I guess you’d say he was an entrepreneur with that. He started that business from scratch back in the 1950s and built it into a big business.”

McGill said that Cooper was more than just a businessman; he was a friend to the whole community of Bratt.

“I guess you could say he, and his wife, Doris, were pretty much the center of the community, especially at the store,” McGill said. “Cooper’s was a place where everyone gathered just to have a conversation and hang around.”

Cooper’s store and his personality was what kept the children of the community interested in dropping by for a visit.

“He had a big heart,” McGill said. “He used to give candy to the kids that came in. He had a personality that everybody just liked. That’s just how he was. He was a quiet man and you never heard him get upset and get loud about anything.”

Cooper had a love of sports as well attending sporting events of area teams as well as attending some national events, McGill said.

“I’ve heard for years how good an athlete he was,” McGill said. “He did love sports, that’s for sure. I can remember when we were younger, we’d go to ballgames together. We’ve been to New Orleans a couple of times for some bowl games. He loved sports and enjoyed every game he attended.”

Cooper’s accomplishments as a businessman were only part of his drive to be among people. He served as deacon and Sunday school teacher at First Baptist Church in Bratt for 46 years. He was also a veteran of World War II having served in the U.S. Army.

Cooper’s wife, Doris Mae Troutman Cooper, survived her husband of 57 years. He is also survived by his sons, Carl (Shannon) Cooper and Marion Cooper of Bratt; one daughter, Judy (Chip) Gilmore of Pensacola, Fla.; seven grandchildren, Leslie Cooper, Lindsay Cooper, Austin Cooper, Bryant Cooper, Blake Gilmore, Haley Gilmore and Aaron; and one great-grandson, Kendall Reed Campbell.

Funeral services for Cooper were held Tuesday, April 12 at 10 a.m. from the First Baptist Church in Bratt with the Rev. Gary Weiborg officiating. Burial followed in Godwin Cemetery.

“The Bratt community just won’t be the same without him,” McGill said. “He will certainly be missed.”