In tribute: Family remembers fire chief as deeply caring

By David Irvin: CNJ staff writer

When family members think back about Floyd Cooper, they remember a perfectionist with a lot of grit for getting things done, who also cared deeply about his family.

Cooper spent 26 years in the Clovis Fire Department, starting at the bottom in 1964 and retiring as fire chief in 1990.

Cooper died Friday. He was 66.

Besides his determination to work hard and finish projects, family members said he would also take a lot of coffee breaks — with his friends at the Kripple Creek coffee club and with his children.

“When my dad and I worked together we would always take little breaks,” said Cooper’s oldest son, Duce Cooper. “He would just talk your ear off. He told me a lot of things and taught me a lot of things those times.”

Duce Cooper told a story about the day he was getting married. Floyd had grown close to Duce’s fiancee, Glena, over the years. But at the same time he had been diagnosed with diabetes and was confined to a hospital bed. Doctors told him for the sake of his health to skip the wedding. He didn’t listen.

“He didn’t stay in the hospital,” Duce Cooper said. “He told them he was getting out, and he did get out and went to the wedding.”

Glena Cooper said spending time with his children and grandchildren was important to her father-in-law.

She recalled how he would get his grandchildren up in the middle of the night, make them butterscotch pudding and cut fruit, and sit and watch Clint Eastwood flicks and pro-wrestling.

Former Curry County Manager Geneva Cooper said her husband had the unique gift of loving what he did for a living — all the time.

“He absolutely loved the fire service,” she said. “Most people don’t enjoy getting up and going to work. He just simply loved it the whole time he worked there, and it was just our life.”

The other part of his life that really sticks out to Geneva Cooper was his faithful adherence to his Christian beliefs.
“He told the nurse when she came the other night, “I’m ready to go, Jesus is waiting for me,” she said.

Floyd Cooper was diagnosed with cancer right about the time his wife was leaving her post as county manager. The time they hoped to enjoy together in retirement was sadly cut short, she said.

But family members said he was resolute and determined to the end.

“We didn’t leave him alone for even a minute, and that’s the way we wanted it,” Glena Cooper said. “We were a very close family. He died surrounded by his family.”

In Tribute is a regular feature. To suggest an honoree, contact CNJ Managing Editor Rick White at 763-6991 or by e-mail: rick_white@link.freedom.com