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WOODWARD: Cooper had knack for big impact

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Nelson Cooper with his wife, Mary Ann, during the Bo Run at Boyd Lee Park on Sept. 17, 2016.

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

On April 25, 2013, Nelson Cooper sent me a message on Twitter.

“Gordon’s golf and ski is on fire really bad. Looks pretty bad,” Cooper wrote.

I wasn’t sure what to do with the information at first, but I trusted Cooper because of our many conversations in the D.H. Conley High School football press box and I already was in the newsroom working the sports night shift. I walked over to a news editor and told her that there might be breaking news brewing.

A few phone calls were made and we were able to get a short story in the next day’s newspaper. People thanked me, but it was Cooper who deserved the credit.

This was Nelson Cooper.

The man who seemed to be everywhere and involved in so many things around Greenville, especially sports related and presumably because he loved to be around people and help others, died of ALS on Thursday.

His role as a student advisor and teacher at East Carolina University catered to him making an impact on young people.

He also had a major part in starting men’s “F3” workouts in Greenville, based on fitness, fellowship and faith.

He was heavily involved in D.H. Conley athletics, often heard as the public address announcer at various games.

Cooper was a family man, and he took pride in his last name.

He also had a big impact on East Carolina baseball pitcher Evan Kruczynski, who is from Franklin, Wisc., and who was a student of Cooper’s. It was an honor for me to write a story in March about their friendship and how Cooper went to Clark-LeClair Stadium as much as possible this spring to watch the tall left-hander pitch, and how Kruczynski vowed to honor Cooper during his senior season.

In some ways, I viewed the story as a final thank you to Cooper for his years of graciousness.

(Link to story on Cooper, ECU baseball)

After I thanked Cooper for the news tip about the fire back in 2013, he shrugged it off and said he was glad to help.

“Tough loss. I hope they reopen,” he wrote.

Greenville was dealt a tough loss this week, but this also is the perfect time to share stories about Nelson Cooper and his unique impact.

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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Humans of Greenville

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Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

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