News at the University of New Brunswick

2 5-million bequest provides opportunities Shirley and Roy Cooper never had

Author: Communications

Posted on Dec 7, 2012

Category: UNB Fredericton , myUNB

When she was asked about attending university as a young woman, Shirley Cooper (1931-2011) said it just wasn’t in the cards. She described it as an option not available to either her or her husband Roy.

That option will be available for many young people thanks to a $2.5 million bequest from Shirley Cooper to the J. Roy and Shirley L. Cooper Bursary at the University of New Brunswick.

The J. Roy and Shirley L. Cooper Bursaries provide students with tuition for one year and are renewable. The bursary is awarded on the basis of financial need of students who have achieved at least an overall ‘B’ average (3.0 GPA) in their preceding academic year in an undergraduate degree program.

This planned gift will continue the couple’s life-long love of helping others and spirit of generosity. Roy, who passed away in 2001, was a Royal Canadian Air Force veteran from World War II and retired as a supervisor with Canada Post. As for Shirley, whether it was providing students with the gift of music through her time as an organist, choir director, voice coach and piano teacher; or through giving of her time and money to 31 organizations, she touched many lives.

"Shirley and Roy’s generosity is truly amazing," said UNB president and vice-chancellor Eddy Campbell. "Despite not having the opportunity to attend university, they saw the value in a post-secondary degree and are making it a possibility for others."

One of the inaugural recipients of the bursary, Heather MacLean, said she’s not the only one the award is helping.

“Not only did it benefit me, it benefited my whole family,” the nursing student said. "My husband and I are raising two children while I attend UNB Nursing, so having this financial blessing has certainly made our lives easier. I sincerely appreciate this gift from the Cooper family, and admire the commitment that they have shown UNB."

Wendy Russell, a third-year nursing student on the Saint John campus, also received the bursary and is benefiting from the Coopers' generosity.

Originally from Saint John, Shirley's list of accomplishments is numerous including being nominated to the Order of New Brunswick, the president - and first Canadian to hold the position - of the International Order of the King's Daughters and Sons and the creator of the Gloria Dei singers, an ecumenical choir that performed throughout the Maritimes under her direction.

The International Order of the King's Daughters and Sons named a scholarship in honour of Shirley which helped many New Brunswick students in their educational pursuits. Perhaps the most famous recipient of the award was Measha Brueggergosman, the world-renowned soprano who has performed in concert around the globe and is hailed as an operatic star.