(Cross-posted at Barry's Genealogy Diary)
Ersie Cordelia Cooper was born on September 18, 1920 to parents William Emory and Mary Eveline Self. She has been an active member of Mt. Zion Baptist Church her entire life and it was there that she met a young man named Willard "Lee" Cooper. Willard was always childhood friends with Ersie's two brothers, and it was on one occasion that an approximately 12-year-old Lee was having breakfast with the Self family that he patted an approximately 9-year-old Ersie on the head and announced that he would one day marry her. After their teenager years and after Lee's four years in the Pacific theater of World War II this would soon become a reality.
While Lee was in the service, Ersie regularly wrote to him. When he came back to the states he had every intention of marrying Ersie. Lee asked Ersie's father for her hand in marriage and he replied, "Well, she is old enough to know who she wants, you're just taking my biscuit maker away from me!" To avoid time-consuming local government paperwork and fees, Lee and Ersie did what so many East Tennessee couples did at that time and got married in the state of Georgia. Their journey together began on December 21, 1946.
Ersie recounts her wedding day.
Even though the two married relatively late in life (Lee was 29 years old, Ersie was 26), Ersie and Lee had nine children, with eight surviving infancy--Shirley, Peggy, Lovonda, Ronnie, infant son Randy Lee, Darlene, Randall, Reese, and Donnie. All children currently reside in Monroe County, except for Darlene Cooper Russell who is an elected official in neighboring Loudon County.
Ersie and family were forever changed on Monday, October 25, 1982 when Lee went home to be with the Lord. He was 65 years old. Keeping him in her memory, Ersie has gone on to enjoy a total of twenty-one grandchildren and twenty great grandchildren. The Lord has continued to bless Ersie with satisfactory health, with the exception of some eye and back difficulties here in recent years. Despite these setbacks she has a sharp mind, quick wit, and a friend to everyone she meets. She is always up for a trip to Wal-Mart and even recently volunteered to board her first airplane for an adventure to Nebraska to visit some of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren for Thanksgiving.
We thank God for the nine decades that he has sovereignly granted Ersie to be in our lives and we count each day as a precious gift.
Each year during the Christmas season, the Coopers enjoy a family reunion at the Vonore Community Center where Ersie is surrounded by all of her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and more gifts than she can open in a single evening. In addition to this event, this year Ersie's friends and family will also be meeting at the Vonore Community Center for a special event on September 18, 2010 at 4-6PM to celebrate her 90th birthday. All are encouraged to attend for food and fellowship. Ersie would love to see you all!