Golden Gate Wing Guest Speaker Archive

Presentation Date: September 24, 2015

US Army Bill Cooper, United State Army

Bill Cooper was born in Alameda in 1925, the first of two children. His father was a home appliance retailer with three stores. His mother was a housewife. He attended the old Versailles School, the old Lincoln school, the old Washington School, and the old Alameda High School, graduating in June 1943. Bill Joined the Boy Scouts in 1937 and made Eagle in 1942.

Bill applied for Army Air Corps pilot training but was mistakenly categorized as color blind. He entered UC Berkeley and three weeks later received notice to report for his draft physical at Camp Stoneman in Pittsburg, California. He was inducted in August 1943 at the Presidio of Monterey for basic training. From there he went to Camp Abbot near Bend, Oregon for Combat Engineer training. Sent to the Philippines as a replacement, he joined the 7th Infantry Division, 17th Battalion, A Company on Leyte.

Later assigned to the 13th Combat Engineer Battalion, Bill landed in the first wave of troops invading Okinawa. Stricken with dengue fever, he was hospitalized for 3-1/2 months on Guam and then sent to Saipan. He returned to the US at San Pedro, California and was discharged at Camp Beale in February 1946.

Bill’s military awards and decorations include the Bronze Arrowhead for the Okinawa landing and two campaign stars.

He used the GI Bill to attend UC Berkeley, joined Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, and graduated in three years with a BS in Business Administration in 1949.

Bill married Marion Haviland in 1951. They were blessed with two sons, Bill and Ken, four grandchildren, and two great-grandsons.

Bill worked in Montgomery Wards Catalog in Oakland for over 25 years before retiring at age 60.

Before leaving Alameda in 1953, he was elected President of Sigma Alpha, a young men’s fraternity affiliated with the Christ Episcopal Church. During his 78 years in Scouting, Bill served 40 years as Scoutmaster for Orinda Troop 237 as well as ASM, Round Table and Neighborhood Commissioner, and on the staff for various Scouter training classes.

In 1978 he received the Silver Beaver from the Mt. Diablo Council.

In 1980 Bill was Orinda’s Citizen of the Year and several times served as Grand Marshal for Orinda’s 4th of July parade.

In 2010, Mt. Diablo Silverado Council selected him from more than 5000 Scouters as Scouter for the first century of Scouting.

In 2014 he was selected by the Old Alamedans as “Man of the Year.”

Besides Scouting, he belongs to the VFW, SIRS (Sons in Retirement), 7th Infantry Association, 13th Combat Engineers Association, and several other veteran groups.

Bill’s wife Marion passed away in 2013 and their son Bill in 2008. Bill resides in Orinda.