BY ED GEBERT

Times Bulletin Editor

egebert@timesbulletin.com

OAKWOOD - The matriarch and last living co-founder of Cooper Farms has passed away. Virginia June Cooper died at her home in Oakwood Sunday evening.

Cooper and her late husband Virgil Homer Cooper started Cooper Foods after moving to Oakwood in 1941. The couple built a turkey hatchery and offices next door to their home in 1948, allowing plenty of room for expansion. Expansion is exactly what happened. Today Cooper Farms has locations in St. Henry, Fort Recovery, Van Wert, and Oakwood. Company-wide the firm has 1,550 employees, 400 of those at the Van Wert Cooked Meats plant.

The Coopers were married on April 21, 1939 and moved to Oakwood two years later. Virginia was born June 21 1921 to Edgar ray and Helen Rockey in Putnam County. She attended a one-room schoolhouse until fourth grade when she began at Continental Schools. She graduated from Continental High School in 1939.

In the early days of the company Virginia worked on the turkey farm and in the hatchery.

Virginia Cooper was also known as the Birthday Card Lady and was known to send not only each family member a card, but also all the local children until they reached their 18th birthday. She also had a passion for crocheting and regularly made blankets and other items for friends and family.

She was a member of the Ladies Aid Society, Pollyanna Club and the Oakwood Methodist Women's Group and the Twin Oaks United Methodist Church, Sunday School Secretary/Treasurer and a member of the Everwilling Club, a home demonstration club established in 1948.

Virginia is survived by her three children and two daughters-in-law, Jim (Anada) Cooper, Dianne Cooper, Gary Cooper (Cheri) all of Oakwood, Ohio, as well as 13 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren, three great-step grandchildren and two great-great step grandchildren, Greg and Suzanne Cooper (Arlyn, Tianna and Royce), Dawn and Mike Price (Peyton), Darcy Cooper, Athena and Steve Brown (Nicholas Brown, Lindsey and Jake Roose [Jackson], Christopher Brown and Allison Brown [Riley]), Kendra and Byron Keeler (Maggie, Aaron and Joseph), Eric and Sandy Ludwig (Brittany and Reid Linder, Holly, Andrew, Blair and Brooke), Matthew and Amy Ludwig (Wesley), Jennifer and Mark VanCleve (Jacob, Jade and Malayna), Heather Cooper (Avery), Tara Cooper, Luke Cooper, Kacy and Brett Wagner, and Cole and Vanessa Cooper, a sister, Phyllis May Lloyd of Continental, and three brothers, Richard Rockey of Defiance, Marvin Rockey of Texas, and Randall Rockey of New Mexico.