Lifelong resident, #8216;model citizen#8217; hits century mark

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

PROCTORVILLE — The man who was once known for his 20-foot-by-24-foot rose trellis and his public service now has another distinction — that of a centenarian.

Ivan Cooper, a lifelong resident of Proctorville, turned 100 and was honored with a party Wednesday afternoon at the village hall.

Mayor Jim Buchanan described Cooper as “a model citizen.” Buchanan and the county commissioners declared Wednesday as “Ivan Cooper Day.”

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Cooper sat quietly in front of the room of well wishers during the party in his honor and reminisced about his life and what he believes is the secret to his longevity.

“The Bible says to honor thy father and mother and your days will be long and I think that’s why I am here today,” he said.

He has never “drank, smoked or caroused,” said the lifelong member of the New Hope Methodist Church, a congregation that was once housed in village hall.

During the party, Cooper also said he takes no medicine daily and has had no major health problems.

“Look at me,” he said smiling and pointing to his face. “Do I have that many wrinkles?”

Although he served two terms in village council and nearly 50 as a firefighter, Cooper said his crowning achievement was his renowned rose trellis. The trellis was once the largest in the state, country and maybe even the world, he said.

It was 40 or more years since the trellis came down, but the memories of the thorned masterpiece is still fresh in his mind.

“People would come from all over to see the roses,” Cooper said. “I had somebody from Brazil come to see them. Everybody loved them.”

Indeed, many people who gathered at village hall fondly remembered those roses — traditional red ones are admittedly Cooper’s favorites — and the hours of work he put into them.

“I had a 16-foot and 20-foot ladder to get up there and work on them,” Cooper said.

Cooper now lives with his niece, Rachel Adkins and her husband; in the same area he has lived for a century. He proudly said Wednesday that the farthest he has ever traveled from the village was to Lake Erie.

Cooper’s wife, Gertrude, died in 1975. They did not have any children, which meant they were close to many of their nieces and nephews.

“He (is) a pleasant man,” Adkins said. “He was a religious person who meant a lot to the community.”

Cooper is retired from the American Car Foundation in Huntington, W.Va., a place where he started when he was 16 years and retired from when he was 61. The business built train cars for the C&O Railroad.