When the First World War ended on Nov. 11, 1918, Mary Anne Cooper had just turned four years old. She remembers the historic celebrations in the streets when the Armistice was declared and, years later, the pains of the Great Depression.
She was only in her 30s when it happened again and the Second World War broke out. Cooper went from learning what radio was to having one in her home. Later, that would become a black and white television, then colour and then came the Internet.
All of these things encompassed the twentieth century and also the life of Mary Anne Cooper.
Cooper was born in Ohio on Oct. 30, 1914, and she recently celebrated her 104th birthday, making her the Port Moody’s oldest resident. Aside from her age, Cooper’s life has served as an inspiration to her fellow residents of Port Moody. At 104 years old, she still lives alone, bakes her own bread, and just three years ago, at the age of 101, she set three national swim records at a meet in Tucson, Ariz.
As for why she continues to stay busy in her life in Port Moody, Cooper says it’s simple.
“Projects provide opportunities for thinking, for remembering, for putting things together, for solving problems. Each kind of adventure you have is a stimulating adventure into thinking… and that’s what I like about it.”
LISTEN: CKNW Contributor Claire Allen spends time with 104-year-old Mary Anne Cooper at her home in Port Moody, B.C.
After a successful career in U.S. Corps of Engineers, Cooper moved from the United States to Port Moody in 1986. At that time, Cooper was in her seventies, but she had no plans of slowing down. She became involved in the revitalization of Ioco Townsite, the site once owned by Imperial Oil.
Cooper is very passionate about seeing the Ioco Townsite brought to life as a community, sport and cultural centre. Her work for the community in this area has been recognized by city officials. She was awarded a key to the city in 2016, and she is the only Port Moody resident to have a street named after her.
“It was much appreciated because of the fact that the city seemed to stand behind me… by doing that.”
Cooper’s incredible life has caught the attention of the community and there are now plans to bring her story to a wider audience.
Filmmaker Eva Wunderman and film promoter Ruth Foster are currently fundraising to produce a documentary about Cooper’s wisdom and experience.
Foster hopes that Cooper’s life and sense of adventure will convey an important message.
“Mary Anne is just this wonderful example of continuing to live a good and active and interesting life. This, actually, is a documentary film about a senior, and it’s being done by seniors. And it’s a message for seniors about staying involved in the community.”
The film’s promoters have a goal to raise $90,000 for the theatre-quality documentary. A website has been set up where more information is available about Cooper and the film project, and a GoFundMe has been launched for the fundraising effort.
Despite being slightly camera-shy, Cooper has her own hopes for the film project.
“If it accomplishes something beyond me… I think there is so much to get excited about in life. So much to learn, so much to understand, so much to solve. To me, life itself… is a wonderful adventure.”