Billy Ray Cooper (Bill)

Published 11:56 am Wednesday, May 1, 2024

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Billy Ray Cooper (Bill) of Elizabethton, Tenn., went to be with his Lord on Monday, April 29, 2024. He passed peacefully surrounded by his family.

Bill was born on April 16, 1938, in Appalachia, Va. He served in the Army as a military policeman from 1962 until 1968. During his service, he helped protect James Meredith, the first Black man to attend the University of Mississippi.

After the military, Bill graduated from Steed College with a degree in business. He held a variety of positions before working as the plant manager at Columbus Electric in Piney Flats for over 20 years. He gave back to his community through his work with the Carter County Planning Commission and the King Masonic Lodge #461 in Bristol, Tenn.

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He was a faithful believer and member of Lynn Valley Baptist Church in Elizabethton, where he served on a variety of committees and the Care Team. For many years, he played a pivotal role in the Carter County jail ministry. 

Bill loved his church, his family, hunting, and Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Although a wise and occasionally serious man, he never believed there was a bad time for a joke. He took every opportunity to witness to Jesus’ saving grace. His family will remember him as a strong leader and a stalwart of the faith.

He was preceded in death by his parents, James and Esper Cooper, and his brother, Jim Cooper.

Bill is survived by Pat Cooper, his caring wife of 43 years, along with his daughter Melinda Eidson and her husband Gerald. His pride and joy were his grandchildren, Alexander Holcomb and wife Olivia, Sophia Holcomb, Noah Eidson and wife Masee, Annie Eidson and Abbie Eidson. His nieces, nephews, and dear friends, Gordon Johnson and Billy Wells, will remember him as well.

The receiving of friends will take place at Memorial Funeral Chapel in Elizabethton on Thursday, May 2, at 6 p.m. The funeral service will follow at 7 p.m. with Pastor Tim Tapp officiating and music provided by Sophia Holcomb and Amy Grubb. Bill’s loved ones will lay him to rest at Mountain Home National Cemetery on Friday at 1 p.m. Active pallbearers will be Billy Wells, Ray Green, Allen Stoner, James Jones, Alexander Holcomb and Gerald Eidson. Honorary pallbearers are Joel Eidson, Frank Childers, Gordon Johnson, Lee Roy Bennett, Lester Bennett, Pat Barr and Verlin Bennett. Military Honors will be provided by DAV Chapter 39 Honor Guard, Bluff City, Tenn. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the building fund at Lynn Valley online or through mailed check. Condolences may be sent to the family at our website,

Memorial Funeral Chapel is serving the Cooper family.