March 2002

Noble P. Cooper, DDS

Dentist

Noble P. Cooper, DDS was born in Columbia, SC, on July 14, 1929, the youngest of three sons, to Dr. Henry H. and Ada Sawyer Cooper. His two brothers are Dr. H. H. Cooper, Jr. of New York City and Dr. Edward S. Cooper of Philadelphia, PA. He grew up with parents who enforced strict discipline coupled with an abundance of love and guidance. Dr. Cooper was educated in the public schools of Columbia and continued his education at Johnson C. Smith University, graduating cum laude in 1950. Out of 2,500 applicants, Howard University selected Dr. Cooper as one of 52 students for the class of 1954. During his senior year he was chosen by the U. S. Air Force to participate in its special career program. Later, he served as chief of one of the dental clinics in Nagoya, Japan, and attained the rank of captain. Dr. Cooper returned to Columbia and shortly thereafter he married Carole Jenkins. Segregation was the order of the day in 1956. It was the driving force to set Dr. Cooper on the road to his civic responsibilities. He immediately joined with Rev. I. DeQuincy Newman to derail segregation in South Carolina. His main duties were to raise money (chairman of the Honor Guard Dinner for ten years) and to liaison with student sit-ins. He also served as a conduit for those who wanted to help but could not identify themselves publicly. Dr. Cooper spent his extra time evenly divided between professional and civic organizations. He belonged to more than ten professional societies and associations, holding offices in many of them. He served as treasurer of the Congaree Medical, Dental and Pharmaceutical Association for twenty years. The Palmetto Medical, Dental and Pharmaceutical Association afforded hi m the opportunity to serve as its president. He chaired the dental section for fifteen years. Under the sponsorship of the PMDPA, he and Dr. Frederick Jenkins were the first of their race accepted for membership in the S. C. Dental Association. His office served as headquarters to prepare many aspiring dentists for the examining board. He  was a member of Wesley United Methodist Church and has had membership on more than twenty boards, often at the onset the only African-American present. Some of his cherished honors included Omega Man of the Year, NAACP Distinguished Service, first S. C. African-American inducted in the American College of Dentists, Howard University Distinguished Alumnus Award, George P. Hoffman Distinguished Dentist Award (highest honor given by the S. C. Dental Association), S. C. Black Hall of Fame, Johnson C. Smith University Outstanding Achievement Award and Chairman of the Columbia Museum of Art Commission. Dr. Cooper passed away on April 9, 2010 and is survived by his wife, Carole J. Cooper; three sons, Dr. Noble P. (Traci) Cooper Jr. of Columbia, SC, Dr. Ford S. (Ruby) Cooper, of Charlotte, NC, and Martin D. (Karen) Cooper of London, England; two brothers, Dr. H.H. Cooper Jr. of New York City, and Dr. Edward S. Cooper of Philadelphia, PA; and seven grandchildren.