Robert Harold Cooper, often referred to by those who knew him as “a true gentleman” and known to his friends at Gulfstream Aerospace as “Captain Bob,” died March 17 while playing golf with friends, as reported briefly in AIN’s April issue (page 108).
Cooper was born in Defiance, Ohio, in 1926. He graduated from Defiance College with a degree in business administration and began his career in aviation shortly after with North American Aviation, which was later acquired by Rockwell International.
In 1974 he joined American Jet Industries as director of marketing. A year later, looking for a seasoned sales executive already familiar with its Aero Commander, Rockwell International sought out its former employee and rehired him.
In 1987 Cooper left Rockwell and rejoined American Jet Industries, this time as its v-p of marketing. At about the same time, American Jet owner Allen Paulson (1922-2000) purchased Grumman American’s business jet program and soon renamed the company Gulfstream, after the aircraft it produced. Through a continuing series of acquisitions and name changes, Cooper remained with the company and in 1988 was appointed senior v-p of marketing for what was by then Gulfstream Aerospace.
During his 17 years with Gulfstream, Cooper sold more than 250 new and pre-owned aircraft and retired in 1996.
After his retirement Cooper remained active in aviation. He served on the board of directors of Supersonic Aerospace International of Las Vegas, a company launched in 2000 to develop a supersonic business jet. He was also on the board of directors of The Air Group of Van Nuys, Calif. He was a member of The Landings Club of Skidaway Island near Savannah, where he had access to championship golf courses.
Cooper was pre-deceased by an infant son, Douglas Lee Cooper, and by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Harold Cooper. He is survived by his wife, Donna McLain Cooper of Savannah, sister and brother-in-law Lois Ann Eis and James Eis of Defiance, Ohio, and two nieces.
A memorial service was held on March 20 at Skidaway Island Methodist Church. Cooper was buried in Defiance City Cemetery in Defiance, Ohio. The family has asked that remembrances be made to Hospice Savannah or a charity of choice.
“Bob’s legacy in this industry can be found in the hundreds of aircraft salesmen who had the good fortune to work alongside him,” said Gulfstream president emeritus Bryan Moss. “With Bob, there was no such thing as a ‘former customer.’
“He developed customer relationships in the same way someone would develop a lasting friendship. He will be missed by all.”