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Cooper impacted Trinity Heights’ developments

By JOANNE FOX, Globe editor
(Email Joanne)

If you were one of the few individuals who never had the opportunity to meet Beanie Cooper, Terry Hegarty characterized him with three words: teacher, mentor, spiritual leader.

“Beanie was without a doubt one of a kind,” said the executive director of Trinity Heights/Queen of Peace, Sioux City. “His leadership ability and his ability to get you to assist, in whatever he was doing, was uncanny.”
Former Trinity Heights/Queen of Peace director Bernard F. "Beanie" Cooper, 86, of Sioux City died April 20, at Holy Spirit Retirement Home following a brief illness.

Services were April 23 at St. Michael Catholic Church, Sioux City with Father David Hemann officiating.

Burial was in Calvary Cemetery under the direction of Larkin Chapel, Christy-Smith Funeral Home.

Cooper was born March 1, 1928, in Sioux City, the son of Victor and Melinda (Karhoff) Cooper. He attended Immaculate Conception Grade School, Trinity High School and Morningside College. Beanie was a veteran of World War II and the Korean Conflict, servicing in the U.S. Air Force. He married Ruby Jordahl on March 26, 1951 in Sioux City.

Cooper was an educator for 40 years, serving as a teacher, coach, and administrator at Garrigan High School in Algona, Heelan High School in Sioux City, the University of South Dakota in Vermillion and Indiana State University in Terre Haute.

Trinity Heights connection

After his retirement in 1990, Cooper served as the executive director of the Queen of Peace Inc. – a nonprofit organization founded by his brother Father Harold Cooper – for 20 years and was instrumental in the development of the Trinity Heights property during that time.

In a 2011 book he authored, “The Miracle of Trinity Heights,” Cooper shared his relationship with the organization.

“I arrived at the belief that the Blessed Virgin Mary orchestrated the creation of a nationally-known shrine that was once a tract of 50 deserted acres of land with three old, dilapidated buildings that now draws more than 100,000 visitors a year from all over the United States and many foreign countries,” he wrote.

Hegarty insisted that one thing is for sure when looking at Trinity Heights today.

“Father Harold Cooper had the vision, but Beanie Cooper had the ability to make Trinity Heights this wonderful place we are so lucky to have right here in Sioux City,” he said.

“Simply put,” he added. “This place would not be the place it is today if not for Beanie Cooper.”

Hegarty first met Cooper in his previous career as a UPS driver and made deliveries to the grounds.

“Beanie would occasionally ‘ask a favor,’ as Beanie liked to say: ‘Terry can you?’ And every time I would oblige, happily I may add,” he said.

‘Unwavering’ faith

But what Hegarty admired most about Beanie was his spirituality, which he termed “unwavering.”

“His commitment to Jesus and Mary is something I hold very dear when I think of Beanie, and I try my best to carry on here at Trinity,” he said. “Beanie would tell me, ‘It’s not up to me. It’s up to her,’ while pointing to the statue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on our grounds. ‘Pray and if it is what she wants, it will happen,’ he would tell me.”

Hegarty characterized Beanie as having the capability to empower others.

“He had that ability to ask you to do things you never would have thought you could do or would do, and after talking with him , you would go out and do your very best to try and fulfill his asking,” he said. “He might need you to go and get  Mt. Everest and bring it back here – by tomorrow. And you would say, ‘OK, Beanie, if that’s what you want, I will do my best.’ I know that is an exaggeration, but he never thought about asking you to do something you never thought was possible , and you did it most of the time.”

In addition to his wife, Ruby of Sioux City; survivors include his children, Gary Allen Cooper of Le Mars, Mike and Sandy (Hergenreter) Cooper of Lowden, Iowa, Kathy (Cooper) and Derald Stafford of Medford, Ore., Pat and Anita (Charlson) Cooper of Eagan, Minn., Tim and Peggy (Nordyke) Cooper of Eagle, Idaho, Mary (Cooper) and Nick Merrigan of Vermillion, S.D., Linda Cooper of Omaha, and Chris (Cooper) and Craig Johnson of Vermillion; 24 grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.

In addition to Father Harold Cooper, Beanie was preceded in death by his two sons, John and Thomas; his parents; a brother Dr. Jerry Cooper; and his sister, Mary Ann.

In lieu of flowers, memorial may be made to the Queen of Peace, Inc., PO Box 1707, Sioux City, IA 51102.

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