Elkhart businesswoman, scout enthusiast remembered for involvement

Miriam Cooper remembered as civic-minded and kind. 

Posted on May 3, 2014 at 3:30 a.m.

ELKHART -- A civic-minded businesswoman is being remembered for her role in scouting and support for the community.

Miriam Cooper, who co-owned Skinner the Printer with her husband, Michael Cooper Sr., died Wednesday evening, April 30, after an extended illness. She was 70.

The printing company at 226 S. Main St., had a history of stepping up and helping with community movements.

Earlier this year, the store provided printing services for the “Elkhart Strong”-themed shirts that honored the victims of the Martin’s Super Market shootings.

More than $2,100 was eventually donated to the families as a result of the sales.

The store reacted similarly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Miriam’s son, Mike Cooper Jr., remembered how his mother brought up the idea hours after the attacks.

“We were all standing around feeling confused and my mom said, ‘What do we do here?’ ” he said.

“We print T-shirts,” he replied.

“Well, let’s start printing T-shirts,” he recalled her saying.

The store produced 3,750 commemorative shirts and was able to contribute $15,000 from proceeds to the relief effort in New York, according to the printing company’s Facebook page.

“She taught us how to be compassionate to customers and toward all people for that matter,” Cooper said Friday while working in the store.

More than anything, though, Miriam Cooper will be remembered for her extensive involvement with Boy Scouts of America.

Among other things, Beth Harsh, a Scout Master with Pack 734, said Cooper was active in preparing the Pioneer Trails District Scouter of the Month award, which recognizes adult scout leaders. The district covers Elkhart County and part of Cass County in Michigan. Cooper was involved in tallying votes and preparing a framed certificate each month.

Cooper was slowed in recent years with failing health, but continued to prepare the framed certificates up until last month, Harsh said.

Her involvement, though, was much more extensive.

“She was very civic-minded and a service-minded person,” Harsh said.

"She was a very special lady,” she said.

Cooper’s death was noted in an email sent to area scout organizers.

“She was a longtime Scout supporter, longtime Scouter, and all around giving, kind person,” wrote Meredith Isenberg, senior district executive for BSA’s LaSalle Council's Pioneer Trails District.

“Miriam and her family ... have been wonderful to our families,” she wrote.

Cooper was born in Texas and lived in Florida before moving to Elkhart about 35 years ago.

Miriam Cooper worked as a secretary for a plumbing company before she and her husband bought the printing store in 1989.

Several years ago, she lobbied for and won the licensing rights for the printing store to provide scouting uniforms and gear.

“That really made it handy,” Harsh said. “It might have given them a little extra money, but it was certainly a service to the community.”

In addition to Mike Jr., she also had a daughter, Tracy Louiselle, of Bristol, who survives.

Her husband, Michael Sr., also survives.

Cooper said his mother was a devoted pet lover who enjoyed scrapbooking and traveling.

The family is in charge of arrangements and a funeral service will eventually be held Hillcrest United Methodist Church, 4206 E Bristol St., Elkhart, but a date has not been set, Cooper said.

Miriam Cooper had struggled with various health problems in recent years, including emphysema, which led to her death, he said.

She died at home, surrounded by family.

Cooper said the family was especially touched by the support of Hospice.

“God bless Hospice,” Cooper said. “They are the nicest people.”


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