This topic contains 23 replies, has 23 voices, and was last updated by  bobh 4 years, 11 months ago.

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  • #7802


    We just talked to Sandy Cooper and she asked me to post that Gary died today in a construction accident. A deck fell on him and from what I can gather it was over pretty quick. Don’t know much more than that. Would appreciate anyone adding to this post what they know.

  • #7803

    jon serfas

    I am so sorry to hear this. I am keeping Sandy in my thoughts and remembering all the time I shared with Gary on the River. Very Very Sad.

  • #7804


    OMG I hate to hear this. Gary was one of the boaters that helped train me the most in the beginning. One of the nicest guys on the river. We all lost a great person.

  • #7805

    Matt Bliss

    Very, very sad news indeed. Gary took me under his wing when I was newer to boating, and we’ve shared a lot of fun memories. My friend (who was also friends and a colleague of Gary), is the Carbondale building inspector and was on scene a little after accident. I can provide further details if and when the time is right. Thoughts and prayers for his family- RIP Gary.

  • #7806


    This is just terribly sad news. I send my sincere condolences to the Cooper family and all the rest of us who lost this good friend.  Kathy Pzonka introduced me to Coop earlier this year when I was just learning whitewater. Coop was very helpful, patient, and knowledgeable. Just a great guy.  Damn, I hate this.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 12 months ago by  19mehitabel97.
  • #7808


    Good Man, Good Heart, sad news.

  • #7809


    So sad.  We lost a great friend.  Thoughts and prayers to his family.

  • #7810


    Very sad
    Gary and I were close for many years
    Started boating on the St the same year, I will Miss Gary as many others in our kayaking family will.
    He was always up beat and happy to put others needs before his own.
    We traveled, kayaked, taught SWR and partied together.. Many memories of a terrific man and great friend

  • #7811


    I’ve known Gary for quite a few years now since meeting on the Spring River as a newlywed with Sandy. Gary was always so helpful and patient with new boaters and eager to rescue them.  I provided a lot of practice for Gary and he always had a smile on.  He loved to fish ,  but boating was his passion. I and the whole boating community will miss Gary.

  • #7812


    Very, very sad. I’m gonna miss that great big smile he was always wearing.

  • #7813


    Gary was about the most positive guy I know, always with a smile on his face.  I will miss him greatly, as will we all.  I don’t know who is going to pick up & carry that positive attitude that he had!

    • #7814


      The river will not be the same without Gary’s giggle–he will be so missed!

  • #7815

    Rich Gran

    Shocking and unbelievably sad news.  Gary’s was the first smile that welcomed me to the MWA in 2014.  His pleasant nature made me feel welcomed like I knew him for many years.  The only SWR student without whitewater experience, Gary let me ride shotgun on his Cat on my first run down the saint.  Needless to say, if you knew Gary you have positive whitewater or fishing memories of him.  Let’s lend our brother’s family support and keep Gary, Sandy, and their entire family in our prayers through this rough time.

  • #7816


    I hate to hear this. Gary was a great guy.


    Cooper at SWRT This is Gary volunteering as the “victim” at Jim Coffey’s Swiftwater Rescue Training at the Saint in 2014.  If I remember correctly, he wasn’t even signed up for the course.  He just ran into us on the river, tagged along, and put himself to good use!


    Coop at NOC Gary Cooper at Nantahala Falls, Sept 2014


    • This reply was modified 4 years, 12 months ago by  Sheldon.
    • #7824

      Rich Gran

      Yup, that’s the course. Gary’s just one solid Dude.

  • #7818


    This is tragic.  Gary was always there to help.  Especially an open boater like myself because then he’d get to make fun of you. It won’t be the same without him.  I’m so thankful I was fortunate enough to know him and call him my friend.  And I’m glad my kids got to know him.  They sure loved the Cat rides in high water.  I will never forget that permagrin and laugh.

  • #7823


    Oh no… Gary was there on my first trip down the Upper. I think I swam twice that day, but what I remember most was when my paddle got lodged in between two rocks and Gary paddled up stream just to get it out. The man looked like a gladiator. Sad news.

    • #7825


      Mine too 🙁 first trip to the upper I met coop through Sheldon dale and matt bliss, spent all last year learning from him. especially in my free ride he laughed alot at me haha but hes a great guy for the little time I got to spend with him. RIP good buddy thanks for everything!

      • This reply was modified 4 years, 12 months ago by  jacobsviper.
  • #7827

    Pam Huddleston

    When I heard this news, like all of you I was in shock and disbelief, my heart just broke for  Sandy and his family.  Gary was one of the nicest guys you could ever meet, he would do anything for anyone.  I will never forget his always happy personality, his big smile, laugh and most of all his friendship, the Saint just won’t be the same without him.  Sending love, thoughts and prayers to Sandy and the family.

  • #7829


    I was shocked when I heard this yesterday.  I first met Gary when I shared a campsite with him, his new wife Sandy, and Lee Harmon and Brandon G. several years ago at the Nantahala.  I have paddled with him many times.  He was always a bright light, safe mind, and fun time on the river and off.  I will miss him.  My thoughts and prayers go out to Sandy and his family.


    • This reply was modified 4 years, 11 months ago by  WillPaddle.
    • This reply was modified 4 years, 11 months ago by  WillPaddle.
  • #7832

    Steve Stilwell

    I echo the other comments. In addition to paddling, Gary a I had bass fishing in common. We always tasked about it and each time he would say “call me when your ready to go.” I never got around to calling. A sad reminder that we need to slow down and take time to enjoy the relationships we have been blessed with. I pray for comfort and peace for Sandy and family.

  • #7833


    I can still hear his deep voice in the back of my thoughts and see that smile of his. This is a heart breaker, so sad…

  • #7834


    Shocked, wish we had more time with Gary, He was always good to talk to and run rivers with. It’s always hard to lose one of us, rest in peace.

  • #7835


    We’ve lost a class act in Gary. Always with a smile, always willing to help others and always a pleasure to boat with. He will be sorely missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

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