August 9, 2017 Edition

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More tender than tough

John Bland

Rennard Cooper was associated with The TD for some 58 years, most all of my life. To our staff, he was a loyal friend, colleague and an unforgettable fellow.

Through the years, his longtime friends enjoyed sharing stories of Rennard's younger years. He then was apparently scrappy and didn't back down from a fight. In his later years, he'd obviously mellowed.

He went years without visiting the doctor, did not like hospitals or attending funerals. We suspect this tough guy was too tenderhearted, and seeing loved ones sick and suffering, or mourning their loss, would reduce him to tears.

Most of all, in addition to his friends, he was a family man, who loved his wife, Shirley, and their combined family, including daughters, Roxanne, Lisa and Cindy, their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Usually sporting a Razorback T-shirt and cap, Rennard was always active, ready for a ballgame and maintained a youthful spirit. In his 40s and probably 50s, he regularly water-skied on the Black River. In later years, he was a jogger, and it was a common to see him running with his dog from south Hoxie to north Walnut Ridge and beyond.


Rennard was also a hard worker, and for many years had two jobs. For a time, he was a night security guard at the Walnut Ridge School, and later, he and Shirley delivered The Jonesboro Sun seven times a week in the early morning hours, in addition to his day job at The TD and her's at BRAD Head Start.

Many have said that Rennard and Shirley were the best newspaper carriers they had known. They took care of their customers, were completely dependable and on time or early with their Sun deliveries.

After Rennard retired from full-time work at The TD, he soon returned and was later joined by Shirley. They worked several hours a week gathering our newspaper inserts and with the Wednesday paper distribution and mailing. They went years without missing a week.

Beyond a co-worker, Rennard was one of those friends you could call if you needed help. I called him more than once, and he and Shirley appeared on the spot.

One really can't think of Rennard without including Shirley. They were an inseparable pair, and she no doubt added quality years to Rennard's life. In the months that Rennard's health declined, Shirley did everything she could to take care of him to the end. She can take pride and comfort in that.

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