Kenneth R. “Pete” Cooper
During his life, Kenneth R. Cooper was known to all as “Pete.” He acquired his nickname when his expectant mother and an aunt visited a fortune teller to find out about the future of the child. The fortune teller told his mother that she was carrying twins. Pete’s aunt, Velma Cooper, laughed and said, “We’ll have to call them Pete and Re-Pete.” His nickname was born.
Pete was born and raised in Springfield, MO to Kenneth B. “Sod” Cooper and Irma Ruth Cooper. Growing up, he worked for his Uncles Bob and Bill and his Aunt Velma at Cooper Brothers Market, a corner grocery store in Springfield renowned for their fine meats. He also served in the United States Air Force Reserves. After graduating from Central High School, he went to work in the broadcasting business behind the scenes as an engineer at KTTS Radio before being encouraged by a family friend to go into television. He did, working at KTTS, later KOLR, Channel 10 in Springfield. It was here that he met his future wife, Joanne (Kellner), the secretary to the station’s general manager.
Learning that Joanne was Catholic, Pete realized that if they were to be married, he would have to convert to Catholicism. Early one morning, he went to St. Agnes Rectory in Springfield and knocked on the door. The priest who answered was dressed as if he’d been awakened from a night’s sleep, wearing his black slacks, but a less clerical manner of shirt.
“I’ve met a girl I want to marry,” Pete said. “She’s Catholic and I want to become a Catholic, too.” The priest gave him a look of disbelief, but when Pete persisted, the priest heard him out, and thought perhaps this young man may not have been pulling his leg, but was indeed serious. Pete and Joanne married in June 1956.
While raising an ever-growing family, Pete worked in TV full-time while attending Southwest Missouri State, now Missouri State University, part-time, graduating in 1966. By then, he and Joanne had seven children. With the opportunity to work for the CBS network in 1973, Pete moved his wife and growing family of now nine children from Springfield to St. Louis, MO. There he worked for KMOX, later KMOV TV as one of the pioneering Electronic News Gathering or ENG news crews that brought live news reports immediately to the public using video cameras. Previously, local stations covered news utilizing film cameras. ENG was groundbreaking and Pete was there at its beginning, working at the first TV station in the world to go entirely ENG and helping lay the groundwork for how television news operates to this day. He retired from KMOV in September 2000.
Pete passed away peacefully on Saturday, May 21, 2022. He lived to be 86 years old and was predeceased by both his parents and by a younger brother, William Paul Cooper. Pete is survived by his wife of 65 years, Joanne, and their ten children: Peter, Paula Bull (Clint), Mary Pat a.k.a. “Cordie,” Perry, John, Katherine Benoit (Michael), Blaise (Annie), Thomas, Joseph (Andrea), and Patrick, his grandchildren, Olivia, Angelo, Giovana, Lena (Michael), Sophia, Kate, Alex, Katie, Lily, and Jack, and great-grandson, Arlo, along with cousins, numerous nieces, and nephews. Pete with his wife Joanne, set a fine example for their children in being industrious and conscientious. This is also reflected in the values instilled in their grandchildren.
Services: Visitation and funeral Mass will be held Friday, May 27 at Incarnate Word Catholic Church, 13416 Olive Blvd. Chesterfield, MO 63017. Visitation at 12 Noon with the Mass to follow at 1 p.m. Burial will be on Saturday, May 28 at St. Wenceslaus Cemetery, Karlin, MO at 10 a.m. The Family is ever grateful to the medical staff at St. Luke’s Hospital for making Pete’s last day a peaceful one as well as to Father Kevin Schroeder of Incarnate Word Catholic Church. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Wenceslaus Cemetery Perpetual Care Fund; C/O Secretary/Treasurer Jane Otradovec; 708 West Division; Bolivar, MO 65613 or to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.