Edward “Ned” Pillow Cooper
Born in Edinburg, Texas in 1945, Edward Pillow Cooper, better known to his friends and family as Ned, was the son of Ruffin and Edwynne G. Cooper, who are described as genuine people full of life and character. A handsome, tall young man often mistaken for a movie star, Ned is described the same way by those who knew him.
An honors graduate of Pharr–San Juan-Alamo High School, the president of the student body and a drummer in the band, Ned was not known for following the trends, but for setting them. He dressed in the latest fashions, and was an avid outdoorsman and athlete who loved to ski, play tennis, golf and basketball.
His flare for adventure led to his time as a foreign exchange student in Germany. His eye for the unique and appealing helped him land a photo assignment with National Geographic to capture the beauty and mystery of underwater life in the Bahamas. He pursued college life at Southern Methodist University in Dallas before transferring to The University of Colorado where he earned a degree in finance.
Ned was a very grounded person who practiced his devout faith at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Pharr. He had an eclectic taste in music and was an avid reader of the classics. He wrote poetry, an outlet he often used to express his feelings and observations about the world.
His love of country led him to enlist in the Navy. Eventually he was given the choice of serving in Europe or Vietnam. He chose the option that offered the most adventure and challenge – Vietnam. Ned was a great communicator who used his writing and photography skills to report for the Navy’s Public Affairs office. As a Naval Flight Officer, he played a strategic role in developing a master navigational chart. His responsibility as a navigator was not small, charting significant information along the routes from naval bases out of the Philippines, Thailand and South Vietnam. The charts were to be used in operations by members of the U.S. and South Vietnamese military. During a routine flight, he was checking his master charts to ensure their accuracy when the plane malfunctioned and crashed. Ned was the only fatality aboard the flight.
Edwynne G. Cooper felt that her son’s heroism, service to country and dynamic personality needed to be honored in a special way. Mrs. Cooper generously bequeathed funds to South Texas College to help build a Communication Arts Center in Ned’s memory. STC has named the facility as the Cooper Center for Communication Arts to honor Edward “Ned” Pillow Cooper as well as Edwynne G. Cooper.
By Andres Narvaez
In ’71 I was sitting on a stool.
I ate tamales like a fool.
When the radio came on,
When one of us, 3, had passed on.
I could not go to your funeral.
I’d been a Marine.
I was in graduate school.
I couldn’t handle funerals, like a fool.
I sat there thinking
of the many wishes
and dreams we had shared.
You wanted the future.
I dreamed of the past.
I dreamed of being a Marine.
Paul D’ Rico wanted the Navy.
You told me flying was the future.
In a plane caged like a creature,
Not me, I said I was afraid of heights!
But you said “If the draft doesn’t get us first!”
We laughed, we had a right to laugh we had no class,
after all we were only seventh graders in study hall class.
Andres Narvaez was a classmate of Edward “Ned” Cooper and fellow graduate of PSJA High School. Andres residents in Pharr, Texas, and has written several poems.