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Margie Cooper

Margie Cooper Jan. 6, 1947 - Aug. 23, 2013

BIRD ISLAND - Margie Cooper, age 66, of Bird Island died Friday, August 23, 2013 at Renville County Hospital in Olivia. Funeral services are Monday 11:00 a.m. at Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Bird Island with Rev. Greg Hall officiating. Burial will be in the Bird Island City Cemetery. Visitation is Sunday 4-7 p.m. at Dirks-Blem Funeral Home in Bird Island and continues Monday at the church for one hour prior to the service. Memorials are preferred.

Margie Ellen Cooper was born January 6, 1947, to Walter and Margaret (Retzlaff) Barz in Morris, Minnesota.

Margie grew up in Morris in the house her father had built on the outskirts of town. There was enough land by the house for a few barns and large vegetable and flower gardens. At times there were various animals such as chicken and sheep in the barns. Her parents both had “green thumbs” and Margie definitely inherited them.

Her father was a German immigrant who came to Minnesota in the 1920’s. Her mother, also of German descent, was born in Swan Lake Township near Morris. Margie was very proud of her German heritage. She loved to sing carols in German, eat bratwurst and sauer kraut and dance the polka. In her early twenties she, along with her parents and sister, Ann, met members of her father’s family in Germany. She always cherished those memories. Her Dad had not seen his family in forty years.

She grew up in a loving home with very proud parents. As a child she thrived in their gentle and kind hands. It became apparent early that she had musical talent. She started taking piano lessons as a young girl and as she grew older she learned to play the flute, piccolo and organ. She was also blessed with a beautiful singing voice. She was a member of her Morris High School band and choir. For many years Margie served as an organist and choir member at her church.

Margie was baptized and confirmed at Peace Lutheran Church in Morris. Many of their family activities were connected to the church including Sunday School, Luther League, Vacation Bible School and church events.

Time spent with extended family members was cherished. There was great anticipation and excitement when she and her family would get to spend time with Aunt Ellen and Uncle Parley, Aunt Donna and Uncle Harold, Aunt Connie and Uncle Loren and all the cousins from her Mom’s side of the family. Their life was additionally blessed with other family and friends living in the Morris area.

Margie was a wonderful big sister. She was three years older than Ann and to this day lovingly called her Annie. Margie and Ann were known as the “Barz Girls”. As children, they spent time playing cards and games, enjoying the outdoors (winter and summer), giggling, laughing, and singing, taking care of Happy and Bootsie, their faithful dogs, and just being kids in a small town in Minnesota in the 1950’s. As they grew older they would sing, dance, play piano duets and travel together.

Margie graduated with honors from the University of Minnesota, Morris in 1970. She was a member of the Iota Psi Sorority. Her major was Music Education. She participated in the UMM choir, orchestra, band, and college musicals in a variety of roles. She fondly remembered the time she spent at the old “Music Hall” building on campus.

From her parents, Margie developed the values by which she would live her life. She became a loving, brave, kind-hearted, respectful, hardworking, creative, resilient and loyal woman through their guidance. Her passions in life became family, friends, church, music, teaching, gardening, shopping and a daily dose of humor. Margie was always very social and loved to talk. She had the ability to meet a stranger and leave them as a friend.

From 1970 to 1981, Margie was a vocal music instructor at Bird Island-Lake Lillian Schools. She loved preparing her students for contests and concerts. She, together with Mark Saari, David Adams, and Lee Dummer started the High School musicals that continue to this day.

Due to health issues in 1981, she took sick leave for a year.. She then returned to college at the St. Cloud State University in the graduate program to earn her certification to teach Special Education.

From 1984-2005, she returned to teaching. She taught elementary special education classes in the Olivia Schools. Margie loved teaching, helping students, and her friendships with school staff. Often she would speak about the wonderful people with whom she worked at Lake Lillian, Bird Island and Olivia Schools.

Margie was a member of Our Saviors Lutheran Church. She was the church organist. She was an active member of WELCA working at the Friendship Supper and the Ice Cream Social. She would lead her Circle’s Bible Study. She directed the AGAPE Singers and was a member of the church choir. By her actions, you knew Margie was a Christian.

Margie loved to entertain, sing, play the piano, and shop.

In 1975 she agreed to marry Roger Cooper. As many people said – “she brought legitimacy to Cooper”. Ever since they were married Cooper has had to ask one question “Where’s Margie??”

She was always involved in something – Jaycee Women, Our Saviors Lutheran Church WELCA, Birthday Club at School, Ice Cream Social, Bible Study Circle, Turkey Supper, organist, entertaining, reading, painting, knitting, and of course, shopping. She loved people.

The last few years of teaching took a toll on Margie. She took early retirement in 2005. Once in awhile she would think about going back to the classroom, but her health would not permit it.

During retirement, she and Cooper would work in their flower gardens. She would find any excuse to go out to eat, to shop, and to visit. During the winter, she and Cooper would be “snowbirds” and go to Tucson, Az. Margie was able to continue, on a limited basis, that which she loved – being with people.

During the winter of 2010, Margie was partially paralyzed due to cervical spinal stenosis. However, she was still able to be Margie. Then in January of 2013, while in AZ, she contracted Valley Fever. Since then, Margie had been able to do less and less. But despite the physical limitations her faith was strong – it never wavered. “God loves me, I love God and I love you.” Now, she can walk, talk, play piano, sing. She can begin her new life.

She is survived by her husband Cooper, her sister Ann (Lee) Koktan, her nephew and niece, Matt and Stacy Koktan, her Uncle Loren and Aunt Connie Retzlaff of Edina, MN, and her Aunt Donna Retzlaff of Port Wayne, IN, and many cousins, including her cousin Horst Witte and family in Germany.

She was preceded in death by her mother Margaret Barz, father Walter “Dutch” Barz, her Uncle Parley Lucas and her Uncle Harold Retzlaff.

Dirks-Blem Funeral Service, Olivia, MN

(320) 523-1102