ST. LOUIS — Mention the name Doc Cooper around a group of old timers, or older timers, around the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, and you’re likely to hear from at least one of them, “He saved my life.”
His name was Dr. James Cooper.
In 1967, he was drafted into the Army and worked in a hospital in the early years of the Vietnam War.
Cooper served as a physician and surgeon for the police department from 1968 to 1989. The St. Louis Police Officers Association inducted him as an honorary member – the only civilian to ever receive that honor.
To St. Louis officers, Cooper was a “medical genius,” according to a biography written about him for a memorial sign to be placed in his honor near Interstate 40 and Boyle Avenue.
He handled everything from broken limbs and gunshot wounds to everyday mundane ailments. He took care of business in a quiet, professional manner and treated everyone, regardless of rank, with dignity, according to the biography.
But he didn’t just heal the physical wounds.
Those who knew him said he was also a source of counsel and advice for anyone who needed it.
He died at 77 years old on Jan. 19, 2012. A military honor guard and contingent of St. Louis police patrol cars escorted Cooper to his final resting place.
The St. Louis Police Officers Association honored him once more Friday during a dedication ceremony for that memorial sign the Missouri Department of Transportation will post.
As part of Cooper’s biography, retired St. Louis Lt. Col. Roy Joachimstaler wrote: “There are countless police officers whose lives were saved because of the talents and medical expertise of Dr. Cooper. His life was that of taking care of other people and he did it with the skill of the surgeon he was and the compassion of a preacher… that was in his blood.”