• 54°

Fairland West hosts veterans service

Ceremony also honored principal’s father

PROCTORVILLE — The fourth graders at Fairland West Elementary put on their annual veterans ceremony Tuesday morning, but this year’s event had a special purpose.

Dean Cooper, 88, a U.S. Army veteran from Lawrence County, is the father of Fairland West Principal Teresa Johnson and was recently inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.

Cooper served during the Korean War and, following his military service, joined the Huntington Publishing Company, where he worked for 44 years as a service manager, printer and carpenter, was a Rome Township trustee for 33 years and is a member of VFW Post 6878 in Proctorville, where he has been a contributor for 49 years.

In addition, he has served as Commander and member of the Veterans Memorial Park Committee and Honor Guard, and has volunteered with the Rome Township Fire Department, the KYOVA Planning Commission, and has been president of the Fairland High School Band and Athletic Boosters, as well as serving on the Lawrence County Veterans Commission for more than 40 years.

The program began with 99 veterans who were present introducing themselves and their military branch before Weblos Boy Scout Pak 36 conducted the presentation of the colors.

The students then sang a number of patriotic songs, with numerous facts about the country and various wars being read off in between. Led by music teacher Susan Dunfee, the students performed the “Star Spangled Banner,” “Free Like Me,” “We Remember,” “God Bless America,” “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” and “Stars and Stripes Forever.” A tribute to the armed forces was also part of the ceremony, with a slideshow being shown of family members of students and staff who are veterans or are currently serving.

Before Cooper was recognized at the ceremony, Tim Carpenter, Lawrence County Veterans Services officer, said that there were 119 veterans who were recommended for this year’s Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame class, and only 20 were selected. He also added that, since the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame began in 1992, only five veterans have previously been inducted from Lawrence County, with Cooper being the sixth.

Lawrence County Commissioners Freddie Hayes Jr. and DeAnna Holliday were also at the ceremony to honor and recognize Cooper with the first Lawrence County Veteran of the Year Award, something Hayes and Holliday said was started as a joint effort between the county and the county’s veterans office.

“The entire family is very proud of him and everything that he’s accomplished,” Teresa Johnson said of her father. “And he’s a good example to not only my family, but to the entire community.”