Debney Cooper was born Dec. 4, 1909, at Aid. He was the son of Marcus Lafayette Cooper and Cora Lou Cooper. Debney Shelby was the sixth generation to have his name. He was named after his father's brother.
His father, Marcus Lafayette Cooper, owned the first store at Aid as well as the first sawmill. He was also a school teacher. They were the first to bring a steam powered thrashing machine west of the Mississippi River. It was unloaded off a train at Dexter, and there was a great celebration that day.
Later, because of Debney's father's health, the family moved to El Paso, Texas, for a few years and finally back to Dudley, where he bought another store. Because of difficult times, the store didn't prosper so Marcus sold the store and moved to a farm west of Bernie. It was there where Debney, his brothers and sisters were raised.
Debney married Floy Loetta Harris on Nov. 14, 1933, at Kennett. The Rev. Daniel Morgan officiated at the ceremony. Debney was a farmer most of his life and lived around Bernie. He loved to hunt and fish with his brother Carl. Debney retired from farming at the age of 68 and moved to Bloomfield until his wife Floy passed away. Then he moved back to Dexter to Crowley Ridge Nursing Home because of his health.
Debney and Floy had five children together: Shelby Glen, Esbon Leon, Shirley Lou, Edwin Joe and Gary Don. Preceding Debney in death were his wife, Floy; his sons, Shelby Glen, and Edwin Joe; as well as his daughter, Shirley Lou; two grandchildren, Sherry Lynn Cooper and Angela Marie Loy of Flint, Mich. Also preceding him in death were five brothers, twins Loyal and Lloyd, Narvel, Marcus and Carl; and two sisters, Ina Johnson and Ima Miller.
Surviving are his other two sons, Esbon Leon Cooper who lives in Cottonwood, Ariz., and Dr. Gary Cooper of Zephyrhills, Fla.; and one sister, Evangeline Lance of Wright City. There are three grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren as well as many nephews and nieces.
Debney became a Christian in 1983 at the age of 75. He and Floy, his wife, traveled to Sebastian, Fla., where his son Gary pastored the Church of The Nazarene. It was there that he asked his son to baptize both of them. They were baptized that Sunday afternoon and became members of the Church of the Nazarene. He kept his faith very strong and often prayed for others.
Friends may call at the Rainey-Mathis Funeral Home in Bernie from 5-8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 19, 2003.
Funeral services will be conducted in the Rainey-Mathis Funeral Chapel at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 20, 2003, with Rev. Don Cooper officiating.
Interment will follow in the Bernie Cemetery.