This story has been amended to include Ron Injates, who was previously misidentified.
Friends, family, admirers and fellow adventurers gathered at Inlet Theatre Sunday to bid farewell to – and to celebrate the life of – heritage advocate and environmental activist Mary Anne Cooper.
Cooper died last November at the age of 107.
Face masks doubled as hankies as a parade of speakers recounted Cooper’s warmth, wisdom and resilience.
Cooper’s daughter Corrina Goodman recounted the last week of Cooper’s life.
She was in hospital, Goodman remembered.
“They looked at her said . . . she’s dying,” Goodman told the crowd. “They turned down the lights. They played soft music.”
In the darkened hospital room Cooper did something she’d been doing for a century: she spoke up.
“I want to go home,” Cooper said. “I want to get up. I’m not going to lie here.”
Off-duty police officer Ron Injates picked Cooper up from her hospital bed. Together, they helped Cooper into a car. They took her home.
She had ice cream, Goodman recalled.
“She sat in her bed. Cheerful. She was so happy to be home.”
She was an exemplar of optimism, explained friend Sabina Valentine.
“There are reminders in our lives that she’s still with us,” Valentine said. “She subscribed to Science magazine and she paid for it until 2025 . . . I think she thought she was going to be living for a long time.”
Valentine, who is slated to receive Science for the next three years, recalled Cooper’s habit of bidding farewell to her friends by waving until they were completely out of sight.
“On that last day, on Nov. 28, I stood on the driveway and I waved my final goodbye,” Valentine said.
Cooper was an inspiration to live life to the fullest, Valentine said.
“I will miss her terribly.”
She was sweet and she was old. But she wasn’t exactly a sweet little old lady, according to friend and Port Moody Station Museum executive director Jim Miller.
“She almost got me arrested,” Miller said, recalling the time Cooper talked him into a cross-border trip with his grandson in the car. His grandson, Miller noted, didn’t have a passport.
“We won’t have any problems,” Cooper had predicted.
Cooper was half-right. There was no problem getting over the border into the United States. Getting back into Canada was a bit stickier, Miller said.
“It wasn’t a good time,” he said. “But it was an adventure.”
Miller talked about a not-yet realized plan to put a bowling green in Ioco. However, Cooper voiced some concerns about Miller possibly doing: “a half-ass job.”
Miller described his regrets at not doing more to preserve Ioco while Cooper was alive.
“Two days before she died I was talking to her and she was still asking me: ‘What can I do about Ioco?’”
Cooper spoke both frequently and passionately on the issue of heritage preservation, recalled Mayor Rob Vagramov.
“I think there’s really big shoes to fill in terms of community advocacy,” he said.
The “Annie Oakley of local heritage politics”
Cooper had a certain edge when it came to speaking at council meetings, noted friend Ruth Foster.
“She had the distinct advantage that she couldn’t hear the chairperson reminding her that her time was up,” she noted. “So she was a bit unstoppable.”
While Cooper was “the Annie Oakley of local heritage politics,” she showed equal determination when it came to corresponding with friends, learning, baking cookies, clinking root beer floats and the act of celebrating.
“Any good news was an excuse to celebrate,” Foster said. She recalled festivities to mark the first cob of corn, the first potatoes of the season, and a friend getting a dog.
Toward the end of Sunday’s gathering, filmmaker Eva Wunderman showed a few deleted scenes from her documentary The Spirit of Port Moody.
In one sequence Cooper recalls being a young girl with a daredevil father. He had a biplane, Cooper explained, and one day, her father took her for a flight.
“We went right down the main street, looking in the windows on both sides,” Cooper said, her voice tinged with laughter.
“I like to think that she wasn’t ever old,” Foster marveled. “She was just young for a really long time.”