Shaler music teacher enjoyed time serving community
After teaching herself to play, Marilyn Jean Cooper taught music to six generations of Sunday school pupils at Elfinwild Presbyterian Church in Shaler.
"My mother never took a music lesson," said her daughter, Kathy Bonnett of Shaler. "She played the piano, accordion, banjo and violin. And in later years, my mother used her musical talents to entertain patients in nursing home sing-alongs and in senior citizen centers."
Marilyn Jean Dunbar Cooper of Shaler, a past president of the board of deacons of Elfinwild Presbyterian Church, died on Tuesday, April 13, 2010, in her home. She was 81.
Bonnett recalled her mother as a fine cook, not only for family and friends, but also for Meals On Wheels in Millvale and the North Side. Mrs. Cooper also prepared meals for after funerals and played the piano for the church's men's club.
A native of Shaler, Marilyn Jean Dunbar was one of five children in the family of carpenter John Austin Dunbar and his wife, Robertha Bender Dunbar.
Bonnett credits her grandmother for inspiring her mother to become involved with her church and for helping those in need.
"For years my grandmother Dunbar crocheted hundreds of afghans for those who were homebound or confined to nursing homes," Bonnett said.
In 1950, she married Robert L. Cooper III, a World War II Army Air Corps veteran and a former Shaler High School acquaintance.
"Dad hadn't seen Mom for a number of years, but once they were reacquainted, he told his family and friends that my mother was the girl he was going to marry," Bonnett said. "And for years, my father, like my mother, was active in our church and also in later years served as the church sexton."
Bonnett recalled how her mother, whom she said was fun to be with, would join her children and their friends for a game of basketball in the backyard of their home.
Besides her numerous church commitments, Miss Jean, as she was often called, was a member of Eastern Star and the Elfinwild Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary.
In addition to her daughter Kathy, Mrs. Cooper is survived by her sons, Robert Cooper IV of Butler and Lawrence Cooper of Shaler; nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren; and her sisters, Ida Mae Braddock of Ross and Dorothy Coyle of Shaler.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Robert L. Cooper III, in 1999, and her brothers, Robert and Lawrence "Pete" Dunbar.
A service will be held at 11 a.m. today in Elfinwild Presbyterian Church, 3200 Mt. Royal Blvd., Shaler.
Arrangements are being handled by Neely's in Shaler.