Daughter Carol Eller provided these insights into Mary's life:
Anyone who was lucky enough to know Mary Cooper during her more than 60 years of volunteering for Girl Scouts knows she always saw the best in everyone and inspired us to be the best. There are Girl Scouts some whom are heading toward their 80s who when in town would visit Mary at the nursing home and groups of former troop members who still regularly get together and often their talk turns to things they learned in Girl Scouts with Mary. Carol, her daughter, tells of her group of friends who can still get together remembered the song they wrote while camping at Allegany State Park and spontaneously sang it together.
Mary lived in Findley Lake and was leader of the Mariner troop with their unique blue uniforms which they wore proudly long after they were discontinued by GSUSA and handed down through troop members. She took them on numerous trips to Mystic Sea Port in CT where they sailed the schooner “Brilliant” along the New England coast and put into practice their sailing skills learned on Findley Lake taught by Mary and her husband Art. Carol and her older sister Diane still have photos of the Brilliant on the walls of their homes as a reminder of their girlhood trips.
Mary loved the water and was famous for skinny dipping, taking a nap while floating in a canoe on Findley Lake, and for introducing literally thousands of people to water skiing. She and Art were founders of the Findley Lake Waterski Club. They skied every weekend, including competitions and were known for their six person pyramid. Art was always the boat driver and Mary when not skiing would make sure everyone was well fed.
Mary was passionate about nature and loved birds, wildflowers, and star watching, She was always ready to seize upon a teachable moment to share her enthusiasm and knowledge with Girl Scouts and others. She was a champion volunteer, but also had the rare talent for getting others to volunteer for her many Girl Scout and community projects and making everyone feel welcome and valued.
Carol said her Mom was always forward thinking and ahead of her time and supported Girl Scouts from leading troops, council events, and committees. Anyone who knew her will have a special story to tell, often humorous and emphasizing the fun and adventurousness that left a phenomenal memory of a grand adventure whether big or small.
Among Mary’s many, many accomplishments done with quiet humility is the lasting legacy of her often given advice: to always have a craft, a song, and a game at any meeting or training and she was ready to share all three along with her big smile.
From her obituary: Girl Scouts was her passion, devoting over 60 years she served as leader, service team leader, trainer of the Chautauqua County Youth Bureau, Alumni Association; took two Wyoming Treks, and numerous Mystic Seaport Connecticut and Macy training trips. The Girl Scouts recognized her with the Thanks Badge II, Outstanding Leader, and Outstanding Volunteer awards, Appreciation pin, Daisy Award and Green Angel Award. She was honored with the Women of the Year by the Southwestern Chautauqua County Business Professional Women, the Chautauqua County Citizen of the Year both non-senior and senior awards, Jamestown United Way Volunteer of the Year award, the Jamestown Kiwanis Dr. Frank Smeragliuolo Memorial Award and received the Mason’s General Douglas MacArthur Youth Award for service to the youth of New York State.
Remembrances: When I was in high school Mary was my troop leader. In that troop we created the Braille Trail near the 3 bay garage at Timbercrest.
Once we went campong at the lean-to. We were told not to eat dinner before we arrived at camp as we would be roasting a chicken over campfire coals in front of the lean-to. It seemed to take forever to cook that chicken, but once it was done, it was the most delicious chicken I have ever eaten.
This is not a camp story, but it shows just how far Mary's influence could reach and just how small the world is. It was 1995. I was in the hospital in labor with Anna. The nurse who came to put in my IV noticed that I did not talk like an east Tennessean and sounded like I came from where she grew up. I asked where she was from, and she told me it was a little town I would not know...Findley Lake, New York. I told her I knew the place well as my Girl Scout leader, Mary Copper, was from there. My nurse knew Mary Coopeer and I believe was friends with one of her daughters.