In Memory

Marc Cooper

Marc Cooper

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02/20/17 08:18 PM #1    

May Kay (Wong)

I didn't really know Marc while we were at Franklin.  Here is his obituary:

COOPER Marc Joseph Cooper ("N-Debuh"), age 59, died April 5, 2009, after a long battle with FTD (Pick's Disease.) Marc was a 6th generation New Orleanian and son of Arthur Cooper and Elizabeth Malus. Marc was born in New Orleans on November 18th, 1949. He is survived by his daughter, Jennifer Cooper; sister Lisa Cronvich; sister Odette Horton of Norman, OK; brother Grant Cooper; brother Romain Cooper of Takilma, OR; beloved partner Selva Riemann and a host of nieces and nephews. Marc was a graduate of LSUNO and Benjamin Franklin High School and had a long and distinguished career as a civic leader and community activist. He was two-term director of the Vieux Carre Commission, chairman of the Historic District Landmark Commission, vice-president of the French Market Corporation, founding chairman of the Neighborhood Council of the Preservation Resource Center, fellow of the Loyola Institute of Politics, founder of the Friends of the Alvar Library, founding president of the Bywater Neighborhood Association, co-founder of the Bywater Mirliton Festival, treasurer of Bring Our Streetcars Home, executive director of the Riverfront Transit Coalition, and secretary of the Sidney Bechet Centennial Committee. Marc's career also included many years as a highly-acclaimed historic renovation contractor and his work was often recognized in local, national, and international magazines and broadcast media. Marc received special awards from the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans, the Bywater Neighborhood Association, the City of New Orleans, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, New Orleans Magazine and the Young Leadership Council, and received one of France's highest cultural honors, the Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters. He was an accomplished recorder player and a zealous Francophile and genealogist. A private Memorial Service will be held for family and friends on Saturday, April 11, 2009 at 1:30pm at the Malus-Beauregard House (Chalmette Battlefield.) In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations be sent to: The Historic New Orleans Collection, 533 Royal Street, New Orleans, LA 70130. - See more at:

02/21/17 04:34 PM #2    

Charles Suhor

I had pleasant contacts with Marc when he was head of the Bywater Association. He was living on Pauline Street, two blocks up from the home of my youth at 1308-1310 Bartholomew Street. I didn’t know the tremendous range of Marc’s contributions to the city until I saw the obit. He was really a great citizen of our town. It seems that the Upper 9th Ward is now undergoing renovation—and gentrification—at a steady pace. Not only the safe “river sliver,” but also across St. Claude Avenue. See the link below showing my family’s old house, boarded up after Katrina--recently sold for $225,000! The Lower 9th is moving but not as rapidly. I took a tour two years ago with, a terrific group of volunteers who are doing one-by-one home renovations.

02/24/17 10:42 PM #3    

Fred Laredo

 I was shocked when I heard of Marc’s passing. He 
always looked 10 to 20 years younger than he was.
We had a close  but complicated relationship.
During our senior year Marc had family problems
and was invited by my parents to live with the 
He lived at my house during our senior year.  The 
irony in this was that I decided to move out and 
get my own apartment .   He stayed.   My parents
were amazing people.

10/29/17 06:07 AM #4    

Thomas Sancton

Marc was a special person, smart, funny, and proudly unconventional. In addition to being my friend and classmate, he was the drummer in the New Generation Blues Band that I formed with Bruce King (guitar), Arthur Nead (bass), and Kenny Wauchope (vocals and harmonica). The photo above was taken at one of our rehearsals in the attic of my family home on General Pershing Street. We did covers of the Beatles, but mainly modeled ourselves after raunchier groups like the Stones, the Fugs, the Doors, the Paul Butterfield Band and a lot of black blues and r&b groups. Imagine the bookish Kenny Wauchope singing "Back Door Man" and "Little Red Rooster," and backed by Marc's hard-hitting snare, while Bruce played rhythm guitar and I attempted to play lead (though I was a better clarinetist than guitarist). We had a couple of gigs in the Quarter, which required us to make fake i.d.'s since we were under drinking age. I remember at least one gig on the front lawn at Franklin. We were in the middle of a tune when someone pulled out the extension chord and silenced our amplifiers. It was either a comment on the quality of our performance or a quick way to end the event so we could all go to lunch. (Some suspected Walter Lamia as the wire-puller, but I can't vouch for that.)

As for Marc, we kept in touch on and off over the years. I remember getting together with him and his Mexican girlfriend Seva over dinner at Jock-Imo's during one visit home. I also remember attending a ceremony at the NOMA, where the French consul decorated him as a Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters for his preservation work. Later, Marc visited me in France during a trip he took to research his family roots. The last time I saw him was at the Maple Street Bookstore. I was doing a reading and signing of my memoir, Song for my Fathers, in June 2006. Among the old friends who showed up was Marc, who proffered his copy for signing, but seemed strangely absent. He only spoke a few words. I learned later that he was deep into the brain disease that ultimately took him away. He was a good friend, sorely missed by all who knew him. 


11/06/17 02:26 AM #5    

Henry Waite

Dear Marc,


Hi. I had heard that you weren’t coming to the 50th Ben Franklin Reunion. Although I  was disappointed, I came anyway. Since you had already died it was very difficult to make direct contact anyway. Stil, I thought I might see you there anyway. Some how, some way, some where, and in some form; for me …. you'd be there. With you, I have a small mountain of memories.


I will always hear your astounding sopranino recorder solo, reaching piccolo-high, at our last Christmas program, a solo French carol a capella, (in 1966? Brave man!). Perhaps you'd be flying at the reunion even higher, hanging by your fingerprints from a French Quarter balcony, constructed, perhaps coopered by that long-ago relative you told me about. 


I hope this open letter, finds you, finds the mourning hearts of those who knew you, cared about you, loved you. There's hope for us since there's no half-life for mourning, and healing has no expiration date.


You were playful and a good-natured tease.  I admired your integrity, honesty (“Really. Henry, I wouldn’t lie to you.” and you didn’t), your deep sense of caring. I remember also, along with your high-spirited sense of morality, an often intense willfulness …or should I say stubbornness which was startling but not offensive. You were not caught up in a teenager’s emulation of the crowd, and proud of it: no drinking, no smoking, no Franklin (85.0) grade-average neurosis. I must say, though, that your haircut was almost the first, but undoubtedly a near-perfect-almost-better-than the Beatles coiffure. One of the crowd?  No, you were almost the only person in our class to really do it; you really didn't imitate anybody.


This recollection is a war memorial, maybe a “school story.” The Harry Phelps – Marc Cooper War of 1966-1967 of which I witnessed two inter-connected battles. A recollection best shared here, in your honor: it demonstrated the unique amalgam of your honesty, ethics, stubborn willfulness, your trustfulness and hurt if others were not as trustworthy as you.  


Some of the details are foggy but I think you’ll find they capture an essence. Initial Volley: We had a Senior (“Advanced”) English assignment from Harry, which was to choose and review the work of an early Nineteenth century author or work representative of a certain literary “school" or movement. You had already picked out and begun reading from an author that had particular interest for you; Harry, later, clarified that this period, technically from 1830 to 1855, precribed a limited set of eligible selections. You asked if it would be alright to continue with your author from the 1820’s or a few years earlier. Harry said that, in your case, he could make an exception. I remember the look of startled indignation (quiet outrage?) and hurt on your face when he returned your paper, graded with a failing “forty” in bright red letters. When you asked for an explanation, he told you with a crocodile smile that he had to “mark you down” for choosing an author writing from an earlier period. I smelled gunpowder.


Return Volley: Your Phyrric-victory revenge was sort of a windmill tilt, but was a gutsy raspberry dipped in chocolate. A few weeks later we had some significant test, all multiple choice, about an assigned reading (could it actually have been The Red Badge of Courage ?). You were the first to finish, surprisingly. When the tests were returned, you asked those sitting around you what grade they received. You nonchalantly lifted up your paper. It was graded 0 (ZERO!). At first I thought Harry had mistreated you yet again! With a subtle smile, in a matter-of-fact tone, you said that you had not read the book and didn’t know the answers. I pointed out the obvious: the multiple choice format presented you the opportunity to take educated guesses (and at least receive a grade that was above zero!). “But Henry, that would be a kind of lying. I can’t answer questions, just guessing, about a book that I didn’t even read. It wouldn't be guessing, it would be lying. If I don’t know an answer, I shouldn’t answer pretending that I read the book.” You were un-moved by, and had an answer for, any counter-point of mine. As we left the classroom, I thought I saw you smiling over at Harry who looked away.


Free spirit, individualist, non-conformist, freethinker, openhearted, four-square?? Perhaps loner, character, maverick, eccentric, deviant, oddball?? Yes and yes, yes. You were an iconoclast, Chairman of the Board. Quite an achievement, I felt, and I think I spoke for others but I won’t lie since I haven’t asked anyone. But I admired you, and I looked up to you; I was touched, and I was shocked by you.


But without reservation, Marc, I loved you. (Really. Marc, I wouldn’t lie to you).


Your friend and brother,



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