88, of Lutz, Florida, passed away at his home on Saturday, January 28, 2023. He was born on April 2, 1934, in New London, CT, to William and Ida Cooper (both deceased). Bill is survived by his loving wife of 62 years, Nancy; his sons Bill (Margie), Michael (Denise), and Jim (Kelly) and daughter Nancy Allen (Kirk); his grandchildren Billy (Lacy), Beth Benecke (Christian), John (Christina), Joey Allen, Grace Allen, Nathan, Abby, Jimmy, and Caleb; and his great-grandchildren Abby, Isaac, Judah, Luke, Anna, and Liam.
Bill grew up in New London, CT. He was the youngest of three children. His older sisters Diana and Gerry lived on Broad Street with his parents, grandparents, and uncle Ray in a large Victorian 3-story house. This multigenerational family living situation helped to form his character and amiable personality. His family summered in a cottage in East Lyme on the Niantic River. This is where his love for sailing began, and he taught himself to sail by the age of 7. He learned to race sailboats and raced Lightning's with his best friend, Mike Mores, all through high school. He attended New London Vocational High School, where he developed a love for woodworking and automotive repair. He also worked after school and on weekends as a surveyor with his Uncle Cecil. In college, he and his survey crew cut the centerline for the Connecticut turnpike, now I-95, through much of eastern Connecticut. Bill moved to Storrs, CT, in the fall of 1952 to attend UConn. In 1956 he graduated with a BA in English and a 2nd Lt in the Army through ROTC.
His career with Bell of Pennsylvania started when he was recruited directly from college. The Army called Bill up for duty not long after he started at Ma Bell, and he went to Korea as an Assault Gun Platoon Leader, where he served until the spring of 1959.
Bill returned to his career at Ma Bell in ‘59, where he stayed until 1991. It was during training in the Philadelphia Service Center that he first saw Nancy Leeds. They had a blind date in October 1959, arranged by his best friend and roommate, Dan. Bill and Nancy were engaged by January 1960 and married on February 12, 1960.
She introduced him to LBI, where they spent most of their summers while he commuted to Philadelphia. Their family started almost as quickly as their courtship, and they had their first son less than a year after getting married. Bill (1961), Michael (1963), Nancy (1966), and Jim (1968).
They joined Surf City Yacht Club in 1964 and served many years in many ways at their beloved sailing club, including as Commodore 1976, Board member, and many years on the Race Committee, lunch program, and entertainment committees. Bill raced in many different classes in Surf City, Sunfish, Comet, Cruisers, and Mariners.
In the late 1970s, he and Nancy, along with good friends, purchased Tote a Boat, a small business that made Sunfish style trailers. He enlisted the help of his children and their friends in the manufacturing, packing, and shipping these small trailers.
Bill retired early at age 57, bought a travel trailer and then an RV, and explored North America. Hitting most of the contiguous 48 states and parts of Canada. They had many very special trips with friends all over the country and a few to Europe. They traveled back and forth to the southwest for 15 years and purchased a home in Tucson, AZ, where 3 of their adult children had settled so they could be close to their grandchildren as they grew up. It was in Tucson that Bill prayed to receive Jesus as his Lord and Savior and was baptized.
They eventually retired to LBI and had a house on a lagoon that emptied into Manahawkin Bay. Bill became a board member of Surf City United Church and served there for many years before moving to Tampa, Florida.
Both Bill and Nancy took up golf after retiring. The most important thing to Bill was not his score but that he found more balls than he lost. They both enjoyed being part of their couples golf group in the summers, and they traveled every fall for different golfing weekends.
Bill was a talented artist, although he never called himself one. He was a painter, sculptor, woodworker, and poet. He started boat building in 1970 in the small one-car garage in our Medford Lakes home. He was a master woodworker, and he made many boats and pieces of furniture, including four cradles for his grandchildren, three of which were water worthy. In the last few years, Bill moved onto boat models, beautiful half models made for the retiring Commodores of the Davis Island Yacht Club, with the guys from the silver gavel group. He loved to build things for himself at times but even more for others. This was the way he demonstrated his love and commitment to others as a friend, husband, father, and grandfather. You could always count on him being there at every work party and after every storm. Whether that storm was a hurricane or a personal tragedy, he was there to help. He will be remembered by us all for his humility, faithfulness, and integrity.
A memorial service will be held on February 18, 2023, at River of Life Church, 410 E. Chapman Rd. Lutz, Florida at 11 am. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Moffitt Cancer Center Foundation, supporting thoracic oncology research. Donations can be made by mailing a check to Moffitt Cancer Center Foundation, MBC-FOU, 12902 Magnolia Drive, Tampa, FL 33612; online at give.moffitt.org; or by calling 1-800-456-3434 ext. 1403. Please note that the donation is in memory of Bill Cooper and in support of thoracic oncology research.
For those of you who would like to attend the memorial service virtually, it will be available live on the following webpage. https://www.cornerstonetampa.org/memorialservice