Children who went to school in South Baltimore, in the neighborhood of Barre and Russell Streets, were safeguarded against traffic under the watchful eye of Edith H. Cooper, who performed that service from 1954 to 1972.
According to family members, she was one of Baltimore’s first African-American crossing guards and was honored by students and faculty of School #162 for outstanding and conscientious service.
In 1971 she was named Baltimore’s most popular crossing guard in a competition spurred by the AFRO. Her tally was an unbelievable 1.3 million votes helping her easily surpass the other 142 contestants.
She was born Edith Henrietta Jackson on April 1, 1922 in Blackstone, Va. to Gertrude Yates Jackson and Purcell Jackson. She died Aug. 20.
One of four daughters and two sons, Edith (at age 6) moved with her family to Baltimore, and ultimately graduated from Frederick Douglass High School. Edith received her early Christian nurturing in Leadenhall Baptist Church and in 1940. She married the love of her life, Earl Cooper.
She was familiarly known as “Edie” and was affectionately called “Bootsie” by family and close friends.
With Earl, Edith was blessed with three daughters — Barbara, Earlene and Gloria. She and Earl were known for their collaborative humor, often entertaining friends and family with endless laughter at parties, gatherings and on their bus excursions. Earl’s passing after 35 years of marriage in 1975 left Edie honoring his memory the rest of her life, remaining his widow for nearly 40 years.
As an adult, she became a member of Shiloh Christian Community Church while it was in its formative years under its founder Rev. George W. Baynard. She remained dedicated until her health no longer permitted her to attend. Upon the arrival of her first grandchild Ashley (1984) Edie garnered another term of endearment, “Grand mere” the French nomenclature for grandmother.
She loved entertaining, cooking, hosting and sharing her home and well manicured garden. In 1990, WJZ’TV’s weather forecaster Bob Turk broadcasted live from her garden.
Edie’s delicious food and generous beverages made it one of Bob Turk’s best days at work, and made it equally hard for him to leave.
Edith H. Cooper will live forever in the memory her daughters Barbara Cooper Lee (John,) Earlene Cooper and Gloria Cooper Robertson (John); grandchildren Ashley and Dominique Robertson; two great-grandchildren Amari and Amir Robertson; sister-in-law Joanna Askins; godchildren Michelle “Dooxie,” Margaret Fields and Robin Baskerville; several cousins and a host of other family and friends.
Services for Mrs. Cooper will be held 10 a.m. beginning with the family hour with the funeral following at 10:30 a.m., Aug. 30 at The Open Church of Maryland, 5010 Briarclift Road (corner of Baltimore Nat’l Pike – Rt 40, Baltimore, where the Rev. Dr. Brad R. Braxton is senior pastor.