Judy Cooper, long-time Ridge activist, dies

After over half a decade of service and friendship, beloved Bay Ridge activist Judy Cooper died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 87, early Thursday morning, April 17. She is survived by her sons Andrew and Donald, and her grandchildren Jenna, Jessie, Jeffrey and Samantha. Her husband Joseph, a World War II veteran, died in 1995.

Cooper will live on in the hearts and minds of the hundreds of lives she touched during her years of service, agreed her family and long-time colleagues.

One of her most memorable qualities was her ability to have “a very positive outlook on life even when things were negative or not going the way you planned,” said Donald. “She was very sociable.”

“She had a very strong relationship with all four of her grandchildren,” said son Andrew. “They wanted to keep her around when they were growing up. They had great fun together.”

Cooper and her husband Joe were also incredibly devoted to one another throughout their 39 years of marriage, which had its first spark during an ice skating excursion into the city that saw Joe walking right up to her and asking her out.

Growing up, Cooper’s sons remember volunteering her for school bake sales and her serving as president of their PTA and den mother with the Cub Scouts.

She also made her mark in the professional world as one of the first paraprofessionals hired by the city Board of Education for pre-kindergarten students. Cooper continued in that role until retiring at 80 years old and receiving a letter of recognition from then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Cooper also served “wholly and wholeheartedly” in many leadership and volunteer positions with the Bay Ridge Community Council, the Bay Ridge Jewish Center and the Bay Ridge Mental Health Council, which she helped to found, said her friend and fellow community advocate Jane Kelly.

“It’s so great to work with people who have the same objective you have of making things better for the schools, with the Halloween art and more,” ruminated Kelly. “We used to have an annual picnic at the Fort [Hamilton] until 9/11 [and] she was involved with that and chaired the track and field event. We all loved that because it was fun to be outdoors with the children.”

Added Cooper’s fellow Bay Ridge Mental Health Council colleague Ralph Perfetto, “she helped bring joy to those less fortunate every winter holiday season by unselfishly making and serving homemade desserts, as well as helping distribute gifts to the in-patient consumers of South Beach Psychiatric Center.

“Judy was the proverbial ‘ready, willing and able’ woman who volunteered to support a worthy cause whenever one needed help,” Perfetto added. “She loved her family, her community and her friends, and Bay Ridge loved her. I am proud to have known such an outstanding woman.”

Even outside of community service work, Cooper was a true friend and pleasure to spend time with, added Kelly.

“I’ve known her since 1975 and she really was a very good companion. She really enjoyed life,” she said. “She was really a pleasure to be with, always happy and cheerful. I just can’t remember her ever being down. We’re going to really miss her.”

In lieu of flowers, the Cooper family requests that gifts can be made to a charity of your choice.

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