Billy R. Cooper, 87, a leader in the Aviation Explorers of Williamsburg

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Billy R. Cooper
Billy R. Cooper

Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Billy R. Cooper, 87, passed away Wednesday, March 1, 2017. Born Feb. 12, 1930, in Crowell, Texas, to Gordon and Veda Cooper, he graduated from Crowell High School in 1947 and Texas Tech University in 1951.

He entered the Air Force in 1952 to serve his country. A Vietnam veteran who served as an intelligence officer, Billy was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and two Legion of Merit medals. His tours of duty included Wiesbaden Germany, the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Va. In addition, he served as a professor of Political Science and Defense Policy at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. During his military career, he received an M.A. from the University of Maryland and was a distinguished graduate of both the U.S. Air Force Air Command and Staff College and the U.S. Naval War College.

After retirement from the U.S. Air Force in 1978, Billy joined the Eastman Kodak Company as the vice president of Commercial and Government Systems in Rosslyn, Va. His responsibilities included business development in all areas of optics and reconnaissance systems for the Defense Department, NASA and other federal agencies. Billy served as president of the Texas Capitol Hill Breakfast Club, on the board of trustees of the National Security Industrial Association and on the board of directors of the National Capital Council of the Navy League. He retired from Kodak in 1997.

Billy loved flying his private plane and was active in the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. He was a leader in the Aviation Explorers of Williamsburg, a scouting group for young people interested in aviation careers. He was also a volunteer tutor with the Literacy for Life program in Williamsburg. Billy enjoyed playing golf with the Ford’s Colony Men’s Golf Association and traveling.

Some of his fondest memories were spending time with friends and family at his vacation home in Duck, N.C., cheering on his beloved Redskins and Red Raiders, and attending the sporting events and activities of his five grandchildren, whom he adored.

In addition to his parents, Billy was preceded in death by his brothers, Jamie and Paul Cooper.

He is survived by his loving wife of 60 years, Anne Fairbank Cooper; and daughters, Mary Johnson, and her husband, Jeff Johnson Jr., of Hampton, Va., and Carolyn Mustin, and her husband, Tom Mustin, of Denver, Colo. He also leaves to cherish his memory his grandchildren, Jennifer Johnson of Richmond, Va., Katie Johnson, and her fiancé, Thomas Lawler, of Arlington, Va., Tyler Mustin and Will Mustin of Los Angeles, Calif., and Hayley Mustin of Austin, Texas. In addition, he is survived by his brother, Robert Cooper, and his wife, Shirley, of Dallas Texas; sister, Mary Bassett of Colleyville, Texas; sister-in-law, Dian Cooper of Waxahachie, Texas; brother-in-law, Ralph Fairbank Jr., and his wife, Bonnie, of Alexandria, Va.; and many nephews.

The family would like to thank the staff of Patriot’s Colony Convalescent Center for their love, friendship and care of Billy and his family while he resided there.

The family will receive friends from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Friday, March 10, at Bucktrout Funeral Home, 4124 Ironbound Road, Williamsburg. A memorial service will be conducted at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 11, at Williamsburg United Methodist Church, 500 Jamestown Road, Williamsburg.

Memorial donations may be made to Literacy for Life or the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

Online condolences may be shared at bucktroutfuneralhome.net.