The Duncan Banner

September 2, 2011

Cooper finds peace through life of devotion

Toni Hopper
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — Patricia Cooper has never been one to blindly accept the offerings of church and religion, but instead finds religion to have many layers.

Her inquisitive approach though, wasn’t always appreciated bu her elders when she was a child.

“I would argue with the preachers, even at 12. I was a troublemaker in Sunday school class,” she said. Attending a Baptist church, Cooper found as the years went on, no matter how much she may have wanted to serve from the pulpit, it probably wouldn’t happen.

“Even as a young adult, I wanted to see the class grow. I did not know I was getting in the way.”

Later she realized the pulpit and such ministering was not the place for her.

The more Cooper wanted to learn and the more she learned over the years, meant a change in her spiritual behavior and how she could minister to others.

Cooper, now 71, has dedicated her life to taking care of those around her. From her mother, Jessie Beatrice Banks, to her husband, Melvin Cooper. Her mother battled depression and eventually was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

During Cooper’s younger years, she wanted to leave Duncan, where her father, Bill Andrews, worked for Halliburton. She met a young man who was a soldier stationed at Fort Sill. She married Melvin Cooper and ironically when her husband was discharged, the young family returned and Melvin went to work at the energy company.

As her parents aged, she cared for them. After their deaths, Cooper’s devotion turned fully to her husband , who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The disease lasted for more than 30 years until his death in October 2010.

“I live a life of constant devotion,” she said. After Melvin’s death, Cooper found herself with a great deal of free time. Even though she was already doing some volunteer service through the hospice organization and Duncan Regional Hospital, she began to fret about keeping an active mind.

She believes music and an active mind and life stave off Alzheimer’s and depression. She plays piano at church, fulfilling the musical interest.

Long before all of those life-changing events came about, though, Cooper began seeking alternatives.

“I had to go back to school to maintain my identity.”

When she was 38, she went to Cameron University and 10 years later, at age 48, she enrolled in the Oklahoma Missionary Baptist College in Marlow. She received her associate’s degree. By the time she was 58, Cooper’s devotion to ministry was beginning to become a reality. 

“I had prayed I would be a Bible scholar. It did away with my religion. I am a Christian.”

She explained that as she studied the Bible and religion in depth, she realized it wasn’t up to her to judge anyone by their beliefs.

“The more you study, the less you are affected by the traditions. I’m not here to pass judgement.” She holds a doctorate degree in Bible.

About eight years ago, Cooper again took an unexpected direction, as she sought devotion to God and Christianity.

Cooper claims she is the only white person who attends the Hispanic Baptist Church, Primera Iglesia Bautista Church.

On her first day, she realized there were some challenges. For one, the sermons were delivered in Spanish, and she knew none. A member of the congregation gave her a bilingual Bible and that removed some of the obstacle.

During her course of studies, Cooper wrote a seminar on the book of Revelation.

She finds Revelation and Genesis to be fascinating books. As conversation revolved around the beginning and the end, the question begged to be asked if she thought the end of days were approaching, and her thoughts on the many natural disasters taking place.

“Those have always gone on. You are not limited to your body. I don’t have as many dreams or angel appearances as others claim they do. I’m comfortable with my spirit world,” she said.

“You hear everyone talking about Dec. 23, 2012. It’ll just be another day.”

“I believe it will happen and we will be, like, why couldn’t we see that? We have to understand, the Book of Revelation was written from an eye view of John, who was an Israelite and from Jerusalem, not from America.

Of course, he wrote it from Patmos.”

Cooper finds computers fascinating, opening doors to a vast world. 

“I finished a class online for gerontology. I’m going to follow that up with spiritual healing and a seminar on death and dying. I want to keep my mind active.”

When Cooper isn’t traveling or studying online, she also delivers meals to homebound senior citizens from the Duncan Senior Citizen Center three times a week.

She encourages other people finding themselves lonely to get involved , either through volunteer work, church or just getting out and being with their peers.

“It’s my way of ministry, serving missionary work.”