Remembering Margie Cooper
“I first met Margie at the Houston clay courts. Her enthusiasm was absolutely contagious. I remember Margie playing Daryl Gralka Lerner in a 4½ hour match. Margie used that determination throughout her life, but never more than when that cancer reared its ugly head. Every time she came to Houston to M.D. Anderson Cancer Hospital, she came out to the Racquet Club and we hit. She never lost her form even as she lost weight.
Margie was SOOO fun to be with! She could make any situation become hilarious. Who could ever forget the state of court 11 at Merion Cricket Club after Margie’s match? How about her presence at the “snack bar” at the Ft. Lauderdale Tennis Club? I can still hear her laugh, and hope that I always will. Margie lived every minute of her life to the fullest, from skiing to hiking, even dragging Pat Greer spelunking. Margie was fearless!
Margie’s home on the Intracoastal Waterway in West Palm Beach was ALWAYS full. From dancing to bridge to tennis, she invited the world to celebrate every day. One of her regular house guests was a family from Romania. Margie loved 18-year-old Alex Gima and flew him from Bucharest to Houston to play in the recent Amigos Cup. She was so proud of his tennis.
She was so generous. Somewhere along the way Margie decided I needed more stylish shoes. I now own 4 pairs of expensive Stubbs & Woottons! Margie could think of fun things to do, and then she actually DID them. Some years ago Margie called me at about 10:30 pm. She told me that we needed to go to Mallorca to play in the World Championships. I agreed and said I’d talk to Bob about it. She responded, “Well, get busy. The entry deadline is tonight at midnight!” It was a great trip! She was a really great friend to me, and I learned a lot from her. Rest in Peace, Margie.
Margie and I were playing doubles at the Les Grande Dames in Orlando and her mom Barbara and my mom Pat were also playing. Margie and I were watching the moms’ match. The opponents threw up a lob and both moms stood at the net, watching the ball travel over their heads, neither moving a muscle as the ball dropped inside the baseline. I said that will be us someday and Margie replied I think it’s us now!
Belmar Gunderson, an early member of NSWTA:
"Margie will be missed for many reasons, mostly because nobody loved a party more than Margie. She opened her home to countless tennis players and others for many years. We always loved tournaments in the Palm Beach area because we knew we had a fun place to stay, wonderful food and friends who congregated at her home. Margie was also a terrific tennis player with beautiful strokes. She will be missed for her good humor, wonderful smile and always her willingness to have a good time."
“Margie was an epic warrior and fighter. She maintained a positive attitude for the duration of her illness. Even when she wasn't feeling good, she continued work, tennis and communication with family and friends.
I sat with her at the US Open in September and she was as animated and cheerful as ever.
I cherish my last visit with her in the hospital, which was very positive. She was totally coherent and we got her to tell funny stories from the past. There were seven of us in the room in hysterics, including Margie.
She felt she could beat it right up to the end and left us with grace and dignity. I kissed her cheek, told her I loved her and that I would be back in a few days. She took my hand, thanked me and said, "Please come back." This was a lesson to never put off anything in life, if at all possible. We can all learn from Margie who handled everything with grace and humor. She will be missed by so many from all walks of life.”
I met Coop about 30 years ago. It was a set-up match by my boss at the time. I was a young pro coming from Michigan, and I thought I was “all that." The match was to take place on center court, and Coop was 20 minutes late - and I was irritated. I didn’t know anything about Margie, except she was a member and a lawyer. All of a sudden I saw this women who was crossing the parking lot in long shorts and a tee shirt, carrying a paper bag and a outdated racquet, I thought - No Way! I allotted time for this? After warming up, she started drinking beer, and the more she had, the worse I got (or the better she got). I quickly realized I didn’t know how to play on clay courts. After a couple of hours and me winning a few points, we became fast friends. Any success over the years on clay, I always credited Margie with teaching me how to play. Margie will be missed by so many people...but I know she’s giving someone a clay court lesson in heaven.
“I lost my best friend this week, and my first thought was, Margie is playing in heaven with the angels and teaching them a few new shots. Somehow that brought comfort. More than that, the outpouring of love, care, and empathy made me realize how lucky we are to have our friends and our wonderful tennis family.
Margie was a consummate tennis ambassador. She was always willing to pay it forward for anyone who showed the least bit of interest in tennis and especially when she saw a young person with exceptional talent. She always said that the sport gave her so much more than anything she could do in return, but she tried to even it out when she could.
Tears are words that the heart can't say and there have been plenty, but Margie was so full of life and fun and would want to be remembered with a smile, some laughter, a party and a beer before the third set. She was Captain Cooper to many who knew her off the court and loved her days on the Florida/Bahamas waters. She lived every day at full throttle and when not working away in her office on a full caseload, would grab her racquet and head for a tennis court.
She started out playing, along with her two brothers, on a court in North Miami with a new pro in his first job -- Nick Bollettieri. Nick knew immediately that those three children had a great deal of potential and they took to the sport like they were born to play the game. All three, as well as their younger sister, played top college tennis, Margie at Rollins College and her siblings for Clemson. Margie always said that wherever she went, she had instant friends when she walked onto a tennis court. It didn't matter what country or what language, the welcome was always there.
Life goes on, as it should, and the memories we make along the way are with us forever. Our loss goes deep, but not as deep as the love and the realization that those we lose are not lost. They are just playing the game at a higher level in a larger venue.”
Margie and sister Libby