Gene was born on March 15, 1926 in Bald Bluff Township, Mercer County, Illinois to Everett & Beatryce Jane (Retherford) Cooper. He was a 1944 graduate of Joy High School. Gene was a veteran of the US Maritime Service and the US Army Signal Corps, 85th Signal Operations Battalion in Korea and Manila, Philippines. He married the love of his life, Virginia Hofer, on September 16, 1951 in Reynolds, Illinois.
Gene was a dedicated member of the Aledo retail community, owning and operating Cooper TV & Appliance. He received his training at the Coyne Radio and TV School of Chicago and was a graduate of the Army Radio Service School. He also was the past Vice President and director of the WRMJ Radio Station in Aledo.
Gene believed in serving his community and did so in many aspects, including: Past President of the former Aledo Retail Association; Mercer Township Trustee; member of the Merit Commission of Mercer County; Board Member of the Mercer County Historical Society; past member of the Aledo Jaycees and Exchange Club, receiving Jaycee Man of the Year in 1978; life time member of the VFW Post 1571 and American Legion; and past member of the Aledo Chamber of Commerce, receiving the Hall of Fame Award. Gene enjoyed spending his spare time with his family, traveling and golfing.
Gene is survived by his daughter and son-in-law; Kristie & Ron Murdock of Monmouth; 3 grandchildren: Lindsay, Jake & Mollie Murdock; great-grandson, Easton and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; beloved wife, Virginia; son, Randy and a brother, Glenn.