Stanwood native Dorothy Cooper loved her NW heritage

Dorothy J. Cooper loved lefse, family and the Stanwood and Camano Island area.

Her granddaughter, Cheryl Fure, wrote a report about Cooper – a treasure trove of Stanwood and Camano Island memories – for a college paper.

“I got to sit with her at the farm, in the front room, and hear her talk about her life,” Fure said. “It sparked an interest in our heritage.”

Fure plans to keep an eye on the family legacy as a tribute to her grandmother.

Cooper died March 20 at 84. A two-time survivor of breast cancer, she was in a car accident in September and never fully recovered. She was preceded in death by her mother, father and husband.

The Camano Island woman was well-known for her service work at Utsalady Ladies Aid and the Stanwood Area Historical Society. Cooper also volunteered at Camano Lutheran Church, where she served on countless committees and was the “cookie lady” who provided treats and juice to Sunday school children.

Her brother, Ron Douglass, said his older sister was 6 when their father died. Their mother,Jeanette (Johnson) Douglass, often worked two jobs to raise her children in Stanwood.

When her children were teenagers, Jeanette Douglass worked as a school custodian. Often, the Douglass youngsters helped their mother clean the rooms.

“There was no question Dorothy got her strong work ethic from her mother,” Ron Douglass said.”She was a wonderful woman and a good Christian.”

Dorothy Jane Douglass was born April 29, 1921, in Stanwood to Frederick and Jeanette Douglass. She was baptized at Camano Lutheran Church.

Her great-grandfather, J.P. Larson, had helped build the church altar, and her grandfather, Sievert Johnson, had donated the land for the church. Cooper attended Utsalady School and was confirmed at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Stanwood.

She met her future husband, William Cooper, who looked snappy in his military uniform, in 1943 at a USO dance. She later became an audiologist and worked for Boeing as a medical technician. Dorothy and Bill Cooper moved to Camano Island in 1975 to live on the family homestead.

The 1939 graduate of Stanwood High School is survived by sons Bill Cooper and John Cooper; daughter-in-law Ginny Cooper; granddaughters Cheryl Fure and Teri Olin; grandsons Doug Cooper, Paul Cooper and Tim Cooper; two grandsons-in-law, Bill Fure and Greg Olin; great-grandsons Josh Fure and Scott Cooper; and great-granddaughters Jessica Fure, Darian Olin and Moan Olin. She also is survived by brothers Ken Douglass and Ron Douglass; two sisters-in-law, Clara Douglass and Margie Douglass; and numerous cousins.

She was preceded in death by her mother, father and husband.

Cousin Betty Bonjourney said Dorothy Cooper was like a sister. They did everything together. They went to Branson, Mo., and saw Andy Williams and Mel Tillis. Cooper, who had a firm, lingering handshake, enjoyed playing games such as Hand and Foot, and liked to play the slot machines on occasion. They went to Reno and Hawaii, but Cooper didn’t like to shop on trips, Bonjourney said.

Teri Olin, Cooper’s granddaughter, said her grandmother’s heart was always in the right place. She took them to breakfast with Santa and the Ice Capades each year.

“She said ‘Uff da,’” Olin said. “She said, ‘Hey, kid. Love you, kid.’”

Cooper cherished books, both novels and nonfiction, and shelves and closets at her farmhouse were crammed with books. She made china dolls and loved Scandinavian foods such as lutefisk and lefse.

“My dad and I always made sure we made an extra dozen lefse for her during the holidays,” Bill Fure said. “She was like a kid getting a new toy or bag of candy. With a big smile, Dorothy would go straight to her kitchen and hide those lefse for later enjoyment by herself.”

Peter Douglass, her nephew, said he remembers playing in the barn when he was a child. He said his aunt was the kind of person who asked questions and always took an interest in his life.

Cooper’s younger brother, Ron, said his sister was never the bossy type. She often cared for him while their single mother worked long hours, or he hung around while his older sister baby-sat kids in the neighborhood.

“She was always loving and understanding,” Ron Douglass said. “That’s something, coming from a little brother.”

Kristi O’Harran: 425-339-3451 or

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