Jack Cooper: Longtime Edmonds Fire Chief lived a life of service and compassion

Jack Cooper

Retired Edmonds Fire Chief Jack Cooper went to live with God in heaven on September 16, 2023. He was a loving husband, dad, Grandpa, uncle and brother. Jack was born November 2, 1930 in Burleson, Texas, to Ferg and Bertha Cooper and spent most of his youth in Texas before moving to Sunnyside WA while in high school. He played football and boxed for the Sunnyside Grizzlies and was also a thespian. After high school he married his sweetheart Betty Lou Harrel. In March 1951 Jack was hired as Assistant Fire Chief by the City of Sunnyside, a position he held for 9 years. During his early years in the fire department Jack was an accomplished amateur boxer.

In 1960, Jack and Betty moved their young family to Puyallup where Jack took a fire inspector position in the insurance business. While in Puyallup Jack spent five years as a Volunteer Firefighter.

In 1965, Jack was hired as the first paid Fire Chief in Edmonds WA. During his time in Edmonds, Chief Cooper was instrumental in bringing Emergency Medical Technicians, starting the Medic 7 Paramedic Program and SnoCom 911 to Edmonds. He also started the chaplain program with Ken Gaydos that would become Support 7.

He served on the School Board was an active leader in Rotary and an office in the Washington Association of Fire Chiefs.

After retirement from the Fire Department in 1979 Jack started a new career in Christian camping. Jack and Betty would travel all across the country serving in church camps until Betty’s health began to fail. After Betty passed away in 2013, Jack slowed down but continued to work at camps.

In 2015 Jack retired, returned to Sunnyside and married Laura Forgey. Laura and Jack would spend eight years together until Jack’s death just 11 days after their eighth anniversary. During his time with Laura he became involved in the Retired Public Employees Council serving as a Chapter President and State Representative.

In addition to Laura, Jack is survived by sister Geneva ”Tootsie” Wood, 4 adult children from his life with Betty; Jack Jr (Karen), Mike (Chrystal), Kathy Kagey (Dale), Beth Steeves (David) and four adult children from his life with Laura; Lim Forgey Jr, Cathy Chastain (Rick), Lou Lee (Doug), Lenora McBride (Karl). He is also survived by numerous grandchildren, great grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.

A memorial celebration of Jack’s life will be held at 12:30 P.M. Saturday, October 7 at Sunnyside First Baptist, 409 S. 8th Street.

In lieu of flowers memorials can be sent to The Jack Cooper Camping Scholarship Fund at First Baptist Church, 409 S. 8th Street, Sunnyside, WA 98944, Sunnyside Firefighters Benevolent Fund, P.O. Box 1165, Sunnyside, WA 98944 or Support 7, P.O. Box 2604, Lynnwood, WA 98036.

  1. As a “kid” I knew Jack as the Asst. Chief in Sunnyside, as my Dad was a friend and Fire Chief of Grandview FD. In 1967 Jack and I visited at GV FD. He ask me if I would be interested in taking a civil test for his Edmonds FD. In early 1968, I did and became a paid FF under Jack. He taught me many things. Some way or another I retired after 25 years on EFD. Jack, myself along with many others enjoyed being reunited with Edmonds Fire Engine # 1. which came back (restored) to Edmonds. We had many good pictures taken with old # 1, and telling stories about EFD, during the 100th birthday of Edmonds Fire Department.

  2. You will be missed Jack! You served well! We really enjoyed you at Camp Berachah Senior Camp for many years. We missed you when you married Laura, but we were happy for you both! We know you are Eternally alive with Jesus!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identity before approving your comment.