Rod Cooper entered the mysteries of the universe on November 29, 2021. He was predeceased by the love of his life, his wife, BJ Brantley Cooper. A devoted father to his daughter Brantley Elliott Cooper, life partner Ryan M. Fitzgerald and proud grandfather of his “boyfriend” Peyton Cooper Splawski, all of Greensboro. He is predeceased by his parents and disturbs Gary Cooper. He is survived by his brother-in-law James Brantley, his wife Kathryn and his nieces Allison and Meredith, all of Wendell.
A true gentleman of the South, Rod has maintained the highest standards for himself throughout his life. From welcoming guests to communicating with friends and family, he believed in the need to make the world a better place through beauty, excellence and giving. His dry wit, sense of humor, and ability to laugh at himself and life will leave a void in anyone who knew him well.
Rod was born April 12, 1951 in Burlington, North Carolina, the son of Ellen Forbis Cooper and Wayne Harris Cooper. From the moment he was able to hold a pencil, Rod drew pictures and planned spaces. On his eleventh birthday, he began formal painting lessons with his first box of oil paints. Rod’s mother was an artist and a teacher. His love of art and design has affected and informed the passions in his life. She loved the decorative arts, and it was weaned in antique stores and art galleries. Rod’s father supported his efforts as soon as he held his first pencil.
Rod’s arts and design education began with a summer term at the NC School of the Arts in high school. In 1973 he received a BFA from UNC Chapel Hill with a double major in Studio Art and Art History. He did graduate studies in art history at UNC Chapel Hill, then lived in New York and Washington, DC, where he continued his career. He continued his education in Washington with graduate studies at American University, classes at the Smithsonian Museum, and classes with Clement Conger, former Director of State Department Public Rooms and Collections.
Upon his return to North Carolina, he became director of the Firehouse Gallery in Alamance County, served on the board of directors of the Alamance County Arts Association, and taught drawing and painting at Alamance County Community College. His first exhibition of adult art was held at the Green Hill Center for North Carolina Art in 1975. Rod’s work in the furniture and decorative arts industry began at The Alderman Company at High Point as a scenographer, graphic designer and finally creative director. He wrote texts, designed photo ops, and was award-winning art director for hundreds of catalogs and advertisements. He also restored homes and interiors for himself and his clients.
In 1987 Rod co-founded Cooper and Cockerham, Inc., a marketing group specializing in branding, design, art direction, production, advertising, printing, data services and execution of orders. He was President and Creative Director until 2002, when he became Creative Director Emeritus. Rod has created office interiors and designed showrooms for numerous furniture and fabric manufacturing clients. He designed furniture, wallpaper patterns and fabrics. During his tenure as artistic director, Rod designed more than 1,000 room sets. Today, Cooper Cockerham, Inc. operates successfully as C2.
In 2010, he retired to care for his wife who was diagnosed with dementia early on. Upon retirement, Rod resumed painting. In 2012 he had a solo show at The Shop at Green Hill, coming full circle in 1975. In 2016 he presented large works at the Center for Visual Arts and in 2018 he exhibited at the View on Elm Gallery. . His paintings are part of the collections of Wells Fargo, BB&T, Lloyds of London and many private collections.
He has continually given generously of his time and funds to various organizations in the community. Rod donated his paintings for free to support charity auctions. He volunteered for the Green Hill Center for North Carolina Art and served on the board for six years. Rod has also been a volunteer for the Weatherspoon Art Gallery at UNC-G and served on the board of directors of the Weatherspoon Association. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church where he was a Sunday School teacher and usher. Rod was a designer for the Governor’s guesthouse during the Hunt administration and a volunteer for the Barnabas Network, helped with reading at Jones Elementary School and at our children’s home.
The family would like to thank Constance Garner and Diane Quillen of At Home Care for the extraordinary care they provided. We would also like to thank Dr Clarence Owen for standing up for our father, especially over the past few months.
A Celebration of Her Life will take place on Sunday January 9 at 5 am 2022 at the Undercurrent Restaurant, 327 Battleground Avenue, Greensboro, NC 27401. Services provided by Triad Cremation and Funeral Service.
Rod has always surrounded himself with flowers, plantings, gardening, so the family is not asking for flowers but rather donations to the Weatherspoon Art Museum or the Green Hill Center for North Carolina Art.
Posted on December 11, 2021
Posted in Burlington Times News