Coopers establish endowed scholarship at Catawba College

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Philip George “Pine” Cooper loves Catawba College, and Hattie, his wife of 49 years, has grown to love it, too.
So they have transferred their affection into a new endowed scholarship which will assist deserving students from North Carolina or Virginia with the cost of tuition.
The scholarship is established in memory of Cooper’s mother and father, Lillian Arena George Cooper, a member of Catawba’s Class of 1907, and Benjamin Herbert Cooper.
Cooper followed in his mother’s footsteps when he attended Catawba. His mother, whose girlhood home was in Elkin, graduated from Old Catawba in Newton in 1907. She taught for several years, quit and then went back into education as a principal at Critz School in Critz, Va.
Cooper grew up in Critz and says his mom, who died in 1972, was strict on him and his school work. She encouraged him to enroll at Catawba, where he earned his degree in sociology in 1951.
It was at Catawba that Dr. Earl Ruth gave him his nickname. “I was thin, probably weighed 125, and Coach Ruth said I was as tall as a pine tree,” he said.
Like his mother, he taught school for several years after graduation. His students were sixth- and seventh-graders, who he says “were lumped together in a two-room school, Via School, in Patrick County, Va. His teaching career was cut short when he was drafted into Army in 1953 and stationed at Camp Carson, Colo., near Pike’s Peak. He became an Army medic, taking first-aid courses and working in a dispensary until his 1955 discharge.
He met his wife, a graduate of Greensboro College, in February 1959, and they married Sept. 19, 1959. They lived in Portsmouth, Va., 25 years where he worked for the Virginia Employment Commission. Hattie Cooper taught school for 37 years, 25 of those years in Portsmouth and 12 years in North Carolina before they married.
Both retired on the same day in 1986 and then relocated to Stuart, Va., where they still live. They stay in touch with good friends from Catawba.