Fred Rex Cooper, age 89, passed away on November 6, 2019 from Alzheimer’s at the Rehabilitation Center of Lake City under the loving care of Haven Hospice and his wife, Kathleen Cooper (Appleby).
Rex was born on March 14, 1930 in Princeton, Indiana to Thelma (Julian) and Theodore Walter Cooper. He lived his boyhood in Princeton, IN; Spartanburg, SC and Chattanooga, TN. In high school Rex joined the ROTC and worked hard and earned admission to the University of Tennessee where he continued to serve in the ROTC and earned a degree in Electrical Engineering.
After college Rex served his country in the U.S. Air Force as an air rescue pilot at Eglin Air Force Base in Ft Walton Beach, FL. During his service years, Rex and his wife Norma Faye (Campbell) started their family with children Mark and Karen. Rex continued to serve as an Air Force reservist and achieved the rank of Major, retiring after 20 years.
In his first civilian job, Rex moved his young family to Poughkeepsie, NY to work for IBM. One of Rex’s great accomplishments was to build a house with his own hands in Poughkeepsie which still stands today. In 1961 Rex and family moved to Orlando, FL to work for Martin Marietta on the development of the Vector Computer. He settled his family onto 10 acres of farm land on Hoffner Avenue and that is where they welcomed their third child, Douglas Rex, in 1967.
His professional career continued for 30 years in central Florida including work with the Navy Training Device Center, Planning Research Corp in Cape Canaveral, Lockheed Space Ops, Northrup Services and the Department of Defense Contract Services.
Rex was a loyal and faithful brother to his sisters; Wanda Kirby, Norma Jean Gilley and Joretta Clark. He loved being an uncle to his nieces and nephews and visited them whenever the opportunity arose in Alabama, Oklahoma and Georgia.
In 1994 Rex married Kathleen Appleby, his soulmate to his last days. In 2001 they left the bustle of Orlando and moved to Lake City, FL to live in the Cannon Creek Air Park where they enjoyed life with wonderful like-minded friends. Rex returned to the sky with his purchase of a Cessna 172 and reveled in the life of a pilot again. He also enjoyed creating stained-glass artwork and working with computers.
Rex is survived by his loving wife of 25 years, Kathleen; his son and daughter-in-law: Mark and Holly Cooper; his daughter, Karen Hogan, and grandchildren: Maggie (Cooper) and Joshua Hayes, Kenneth Cooper and Kelly Hogan. Rex’s youngest child, Doug Cooper, predeceased him but left him a bonus family in Angela Kirshon and her daughters Alexis and Brooke. Rex was also blessed with Kathleen’s children, Scott Knoll (Kendall) and their 3 children and Jeff Knoll (Kristen) and their 5 children, and their 6 grandchildren.
A funeral service will be held on Saturday, November 16th at 12:00 at the First Presbyterian Church, 697 SW Baya Dr, Lake City, FL. The Internment will follow, for those who wish to attend, at the Gateway Forest Lawn Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers donations in Rex’s name can be made to Haven Hospice, 4200 NW 90th Blvd, Gainesville, FL 32606 or on their website http://beyourhaven.org.
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