DURHAM, NC (January 15, 2015) – Nell Cooper, 89, the widow of the late Charles H. Cooper, executive director emeritus of the National Press Photographers Association, died Thursday at home in Durham surrounded by her family. She was surrounded by her family following a brief period of declining health.
Charles Cooper died in December 19, 2012, at the age of 92.
Born May 16, 1925 in Bristol, VA, she was the daughter of the late Roy Jefferson Slaughter and Mary Fleming Slaughter. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband, two sisters and four brothers. Nell was the last surviving member of her immediate family. She and Charles, former chief photographer of the Durham Herald-Sun newspapers, were married January 2, 1943, prior to Charles' departure for Europe during World War II. Upon his return they would have and raise two sons in Durham and would remain lifelong residents of Durham.
During her lifetime, in addition to providing loving support for her husband and two sons and serving as the cornerstone of the family unit, she was a long time member of the Dogwood Garden Club, an avid bowler with the Pinups Bowling Team during the 1960's and 1970's, and an active participant in the Durham City Schools PTA and Cub Scouts. She was a former member of Parkview Baptist Church and recently attended church services via television due to her health.
In 1963 her husband Charles established and served as the first executive director of the NPPA, a role that allowed Nell and Charles to work together for many years in their home office. Nell continued to work full time with Charles at the newly created NPPA national office in Durham for 34 years until their joint retirement in 1997.
Throughout her long life nothing was more satisfying to Nell than the time she spent with her husband, her sons and the extended family. She was totally devoted to the daily operation of the family unit, loved yard work, and all forms of cooking and baking. Being in a family with a newspaper photographer husband and two sons, and given her own personality, she became a very avid sports fan especially loyal to the Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina State Wolfpack. She and Charles made a point to use their commitment to NPPA to provide the opportunity for an annual family vacation that provided travel each summer to great places across the breadth of the United States. Nell treasured all these experiences, kept her family and the memories close, and of course had lots of photos to share.
Surviving are her sons, Charles H. Cooper II and wife Mary Rose of Atlantic Beach, and John Phillip Cooper and wife Yvonne of Hillsborough; grandchildren, Sean Joshua Cooper and wife Sarah of Fuquay-Varina, Kimberly Rose Ballinger and husband Jim of Raleigh, Lindsay Cooper Butler and husband Philip of Hillsborough, and John Phillip (J.P.) Cooper Jr. of Hillsborough: great-grandchildren Jackson Rhett Butler and Elizabeth Grace Butler of Hillsborough and Caitlyn Hayley Cooper of Fuquay-Varina; and many nephews, nieces, grand nephews and nieces, and a lifetime of friends all across the United States.
Private family services will be held at Maplewood Cemetery in Durham. If anyone would like to honor Nell, the family suggests that a donation in her honor to the American Cancer Society would be appreciated.