Arthur Aldon Cooper was welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven on October 4, 2022. He was born on April 26, 1932 to Uriel Arthur Cooper and Elizabeth McCurdy Cooper in Missoula, Montana. At the time, the family lived in Elliston Montana. The family moved often as Uriel and Elizabeth were both teachers and the contract changed. Art said they moved 21 times from his first grade to his high school graduation at Three Forks in 1950. From the 7th grade, Art had a job ranging from farm work to pumping gasoline at a gas station. After high school, he enrolled at MSC Bozeman (now MSU). He only came to one quarter because he didn’t know what he wanted to do. He returned to Three Forks and worked for the Milwaukee Railroad. On 20 October 1951 he married Janeann Jergensen at his parents’ home in Clyde Park. Three children were born of this union, Barbara Jane in 1952, Vicki Joann in 1955, and James Arthur in 1956. Later in life, her “fourth” child became niece Lori Phillips Hendrickson. Working on the railroad was too sporadic and unpredictable, so he quit and went to work at Texaco. After about a year he was working there at Fisher Motors, a Chevrolet dealership and repair shop. It was there that his mechanical skills were born. Harold Fisher taught him all about car repairs. He worked there until 1969 when he became a mechanic for Ideal Cement at Trident. In 1973 he rented the Conoco at Three Forks and had a repair shop behind it. In 1978 he moved the business home and it became Art’s Repair. He was a talented, sought-after mechanic and when he retired his customers were dismayed. Art was adept at everything he did, from building her house to working with wood after retirement to helping Vicki build her house.
As a family we spent our summers camping, mainly in Potosí. Jane and Art continued camping after the children grew up. They went for 2 weeks each, sometimes with friends or family or both.
He was middle-class. He served on the city council, volunteered for the ambulance and the board. He also served the Three Forks Methodist Church primarily with his building skills. He helped build the annex and helped with many remodeling projects. For years he worked in church junk sales.
He was a very active person. He hunted and fished and worked in the garden. He started running and competing in his 50s. When knee pain put an end to that, he walked the Three Forks Trails. In the early 1980s, Art and Jane bought Schwinn bicycles. Art started riding to Bozeman and back. In 1985 he went on his first long-distance cycle tour. He went to Spokane. For the next 21 years, he made trips almost annually, averaging 1000 miles per trip and averaging 100 miles per day. To South Dakota, Nevada, Canada, Washington and many different loops around Montana. Some longer, some shorter. By the time Art stopped riding, he had clocked up more than 32,000 miles on his bike. In 2017, Vicki made him run the 10K PubRun with her to celebrate his 85th birthday. He was the oldest participant.
After retiring, Art and Jane have traveled extensively. They bought a collapsible Coleman camper and drove it north and south. One of Art’s favorite places was the Grand Canyon. Art hiked down one way each time they were there, but also hiked down three times. This is only possible with permission and must be done within 2 days. He’s done it twice on his own and decided to do it one last time to celebrate his 76th birthday. This time he was accompanied by grandson-in-law Matt Strozewski.
The Coleman also sailed up the Alcan Highway into Alaska in August 1985. Vicki took part in this adventure. Art and Jane also made two ferry trips on the Inland Waterway to Alaska.
Another popular excursion was the Oregon coast which they did 5 or 6 times.
Art was preceded in death by his parents, sister MaryLou Holthaus, and brother James Howard Cooper. He is survived by his 70-year-old wife Jane, daughter Barbara (Wayne) Bequette, Deer Lodge, daughter Vicki (Ron) Young, Bozeman, and son Jim (Cheryl) Cooper, Lewiston Idaho. 11 grandchildren, Heather (David) Scully, Nicole (Matt) Strozewski, Toni (Jason) Milburn, Dustin (Joni) Bequette, Jessie (Jared) Miller, Reese Young, Cory (Janessa) Cooper, Amy Cooper, Cooper Klippenstein, Ethan ( Katie) Cooper and Sarah (Corey) Newland, 16 great-grandchildren and niece Lori Hendrickson. Many other nieces and nephews also survive.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on October 14 at Fairview Cemetery in Three Forks.