Promoted to Glory: Commissioner Raymond A. Cooper II
Commissioner Raymond Arthur Cooper, Jr, was born to parents Raymond & Helen Cooper in Georgetown, Washington D.C., on May 24, 1937.
While attending the corps at the age of seven he was converted and enrolled as a junior soldier. He was very active in junior band and songsters and any other activities they had at the corps. Even in those young days, Christ was very real to him. Commissioner Raymond stated in his candidates’ papers that when he began Corps Cadets in September of 1949, “it proved more than once to me a great aid to my life as a Christian.” He wrote that during his Junior High School days he realized something of the devastation which sin can cause. “It was during that period I was really thankful for the saving and keeping power of Christ. Glad because He had saved me from all of the evil with which I came into contact.” Commissioner was enrolled as a senior soldier by General Albert Orsborn who then spoke on the dangerous pitfalls which were awaiting young people at every turn on the road of life.
At a youth councils in 1953, in Richmond, VA, Commissioner Raymond felt his first definite call to officership. “I had, as do most Army young people, thought of officership as a possibility, but up to that time, I had never thought of it seriously.” During the candidates call, he still had not given it much thought. Then as one of the old consecration songs was sung, “I heard Christ say definitely, ‘Follow Me.’ I promised myself and God, that for all my life, ‘I’ll follow thee, of life the giver.’” When he wrote these things on his candidate papers, he was 17 years old, wise beyond his years.
Following his commissioning with the Swordbearers session on June 4, 1956, he served as an assistant corps officer and on the staff of the college until his marriage to Lieutenant Merlyn Wishon on June 19, 1959.
Commissioner Raymond attended the International College for Officers in London and studied at the University of Houston and Georgia State University, majoring in Sociology.
His appointments have included corps commands in Houston and Port Arthur Texas, the College for Officer Training staff for fourteen years, divisional youth secretary in the Virginias, territorial youth secretary, divisional secretary in the Texas and Georgia Divisions, Evangeline Booth College training principal, divisional commander in the Maryland & West Virginia and North & South Carolina Divisions, and secretary for program and chief secretary in the USA Central & Southern Territories.
Commissioner Raymond served as faculty for five years for the National Brengle Institute and wrote the New Testament study notes used in the USA training colleges. He was the international voice of The Salvation Army as a speaker on the “Wonderful Words of Life” radio ministry. He was a faithful member of both Kiwanis and Rotary clubs.
The Coopers together have had an extensive international ministry including leadership of the 1985 South Pacific Youth Congress in Melbourne, Australia, and associate leadership of the 1977 South American West Territorial Congress. They also conducted Brengle Institutes in Australia and Zimbabwe. In 2013 the Coopers conducted a Territorial Leaders Conference for the Eastern Europe Territory which includes The Salvation Army’s work in Russia. They have been responsible for the planning of three Territorial Congresses and served as executive officers for the International Millennial Congress held in Atlanta in 2000.
Commissioner Raymond Cooper assumed the position of the 18th Territorial Commander for the USA Southern Territory on September 1, 1999. Commissioners Raymond & Merlyn Cooper retired on June 30, 2002, having given a combined total of 91 years of service in The Salvation Army. In retirement, the Coopers have lived in Clearwater, Florida and have been an active part of the corps.
Commissioner Raymond Cooper will be greatly missed for his ministry at the piano and organ, having been the Clearwater Corps organist for more than 20 years and serving as the organist for the Southern Territorial Bible Conference for more than 50 years.
He is survived by his loving wife of more than 64 years, Merlyn, and their son Major Raymond, III, also a Salvation Army officer serving at Territorial Headquarters in Atlanta. He is also survived by his sister, Mrs. Ben (Tillie) Valdez, and several nieces and nephews.