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Dr. Hugh Cooper (1923-2014)

Ann Arbor, MI — September 18, 2014 — Dr. Hugh Cooper, a former member of the University of Michigan School of Dentistry’s Crown and Bridge Department, died September 12.  He was 90.

Dr. Cooper earned three degrees from the University of Michigan: A Bachelor of Science in 1947, a DDS in 1951, and a Master of Science in crown and bridge prosthodontics in 1954.

Reflecting on his dental education at Michigan in an interview that appeared in the Summer/Fall 1994 issue of the School’s alumni magazine, DentalUM, Cooper said one of his role models was Dr. Frances Vedder who chaired the Crown and Bridge Department.  When Vedder retired in 1959,  Cooper and 14 others established the Frances P. Vedder Society for Crown and Bridge Prosthodontics at the School of Dentistry. 

Another role model was Dr. Louis Schultz, the head of the Operative Department. Cooper practiced with Schultz from 1952 to 1962 and then went into private practice for himself, dividing his time between his private practice and teaching at the School of Dentistry.  He also spent five years as a research associate with Dr. Sigurd Ramfjord, who headed the Department of Periodontics (1962-1967).

Cooper was instrumental helping to establish the Michigan Dental Association’s House of Delegates.  He was its first Speaker of the House (1979-1982), and also served on the MDA Board of Directors.  Cooper was a member of the School’s Alumni Society Board of Governors from 1987 to 1990, and was its chair from 1991 to 1992. 

Cooper became involved in international outreach with Project HOPE in 1966 promoting oral health first, in Nicaragua, and later in Columbia, Tunisia, Brazil and Jamaica.  He also worked through Project HOPE with Navajo Indians in Arizona.  He was an active member of the American Dental Association’s Council on International Relations in the 1980s and served as chair from 1985-1986.  In 1984, he was a member of the first ADA delegation to China.  He also chaired the Steering Committee for Health Volunteers Overseas and worked in Trinidad, Guyana and Belize. 

For his many contributions to dentistry, the MDA presented Cooper with its highest honor, the Meritorious Award, in 1994.  He also received the School of Dentistry’s Distinguished Service Award in 1997.

About his father’s achievements, David Cooper, said, “My father was not one to reflect on his accomplishments, at least with his family.  Instead, he was always focused on the tasks yet to be done.  As a result, we may have forgotten about how involved he was in the dental community.”

Dr. Josef Kolling (DDS 1981, MS 1984) once said of Cooper, his mentor and practice partner, “Getting involved in organized dentistry was something that was expected of me when I began working with Dr. Cooper.”

At this time, no public funeral service is being planned for Dr. Cooper.  Sympathy cards for the family can be sent to his son, David Cooper, at 711 Cooper Ridge Dr., Chelsea, MI 48118.  Contributions in Dr. Cooper’s name may be made to Project HOPE, 255 Carter Hall Lane, Millwood, VA 22646.