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Charles Cooper

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Joined: 03 Jan 2016
Location: Fallbrook
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    Posted: 06 Nov 2017 at 12:39pm

Captain Charles T. Cooper, III USN (Ret) passed away peacefully on the morning of October 9, 2017 at the age of 98 with his beloved wife Sheila at his side. He was born on August 19, 1919 in Ozono, Texas then raised in San Angelo. He graduated from San Angelo High School in 1936 and then attended San Angelo Junior College for two years on a Carr Scholarship. He then attended Texas University before entering The United States Naval Academy in the summer of 1939 with the Class of 1943. His was the first wartime class to graduate in three years, graduating on June 19, 1942. In his pursuit of graduate degrees he attended Catholic University, MIddlebury College where he earned his Master’s degree after a year of study in Madrid, Arizona State spending three summers in Guadalajara, University of Granada in Malaga, and University of Navarra in Pamplona where he completed his coursework toward a PhD.

In WWII he served in the USS Hornet (CV8) until her loss in October 1942. He then served for five months in the USS Washington (BB56) as a communicator on the staff of RADM. Willis A. Lee, Jr. From there he was assigned to the USS San Diego (CLAA53), a light destroyer, to serve in the fire control room. In January 1944 he attended submarine school in New London, CT and upon graduation joined the pre-commissioning crew of the USS Spikefish (SS404.) During his tenure with the Spikefish Charlie served as gunnery officer, engineering officer, executive officer, and ultimately commander of the ship.

In 1949, in lieu of shore duty, he opted to attend Deep Sea Diving School in Washington, DC and thereafter served two years as CO of the USS Chanticleer (ASR7), an anti-submarine rescue vessel. The rest of his career was spent mostly in the Submarine Force, including a 2 year tour as Commander of the USS Tusk (SS426) following a year at the Navy War College in Newport, 4 years as an instructor at the Submarine School in New London, CT, Staff of the ASW Carrier Division 18 and CPS Officer the Submarine Squad 10 both in New London, and a 1 year tour as Division Commander of Submarine Division 121 in Key West. In his last post of service in the submarine force he was the first to prove that it was possible to tow a submarine submerged. This had never been done and most if not all doubted that it was possible, that is except Charlie. On the afternoon of July 1, 1961, with the help of the officers and crew of the USS Threadfin and the USS Marlin, he was able to prove his belief, thus giving the submarine force another way to come to the aid of a disabled submarine and its crew.

Charlie’s last tour of duty was as Chair of the Foreign Language Department at the Naval Academy from 1961 to 1964. During this time he served as Officer Representative to the baseball team. He was assigned to be in charge of the salvage division of the Navy’s new deep submergence systems review group in Washington but instead decided to retire.

Upon retirement in 1964 Charlie went on to earn his Master’s Degree from Middlebury College, spending a year at their graduate school in Madrid. He then joined the faculty at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, PA where he taught Spanish and Spanish literature for 14 years, serving as Chair of the Foreign Language Department as well. It was at LVC that he first met his future wife Sheila Roche, Class of 1977. He retired in 1979 to devote full time to research, primarily in Spain and London, for treasure salver Burt Webber.

In 1986 he and Sheila moved to Delaware. He spent the next 8 years as owner and lucky sailor of his own sailboat, traveling the East Coast. They welcomed their son Connor into their lives on May 31, 2002 and life has never been the same; he has been the center and the light of their lives ever since.

Charlie is survived by the love of his life Sheila and their son Connor, four children from his first marriage: Mary Vail of Gaithersburg, MD, Charles H. of Naperville, IL, Allan H. of Fredericksburg, VA, and Christopher C. of New London, CT, six grandchildren, and 7 great grandchildren. Charlie’s greatest sadness was to leave his best roles in life behind him- that of husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather. He will be most remembered for his kindness and joie de vivre.

Memorial services will be held,Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 11AM, at the U.S. Naval Academy, Main Chapel, 121 Blake Rd, Annapolis, MD 21402.

His ashes will be placed in the Columbarium at the US Naval Academy he loved so much.

In lieu of flowers Charlie requests that the following be considered: donation of a good book to LVC or another worthy institution, donations in his memory to either Lebanon Valley College or Middlebury Language Departments, The USNA Alumni Association and Foundation (Class of 1943), or The Tutwiler Clinic (Tallahatchie General Hospital ) in Tutwiler, MS. At the very least do a good deed for another in need.

Torbert Funeral Chapels
1145 E. Lebanon Road
Dover, DE 19901
Phone: (302) 734-334

USNA[Canberra(CAG-2);Willard Keith(DD-775)];Providence(CLG-6);Sea Robin(SS-407); Nat Greene(SSBN-636B); GMS Dam Neck; Naval Advisory Group,Viet Nam; Okinawa(LPH-3); OIC FLTAC Corona;OIC NWS Fallbrook
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