Mississippi College Family Mourns Loss of Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Department Chair
By any standard, Dr. Joe M. Cooper lived a full life.
He was an ordained Baptist preacher who pastored two churches in Mississippi, ministering to the spiritual needs of his congregation and sharing the love of Christ. He was a member of the “Greatest Generation,” helping to preserve America’s freedom by serving his country in World War II. He was a respected and beloved professor, imparting practical and experiential wisdom to his students at Mississippi College.
And the night before he died at 98 on Nov. 30, Cooper enjoyed engaging in his favorite pastime, participating in a stimulating discussion as part of a weekly book club of former students and friends he delighted in hosting – even on Zoom.
“Here’s this man who was born as a sharecropper’s son in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, and he’s sitting in front of a computer screen the night before his death, talking about Confucianism (in Huston Smith’s book, “The World’s Religions”) with people from Washington, Utah, and the local area,” said Ricky Nations, an MC alum, past-president of the Arts Council of Clinton, and member of Cooper’s book club. “He was a fine man, someone I greatly admired.
“It was an honor to be a friend of Joe’s.”
Rev. Duewayne Tullos, once a student of Cooper’s and another member of the book club, marveled at his former professor’s exceptional memory.
“Every time I had a class under him, I would sit in the same spot,” Tullos said. “Years after I graduated from MC, I joined Northside Baptist Church, where he was a member. He knew where I had sat – he remembered me from that long ago.
“When you’re a student 18 or 19 years old, you don’t imagine you’ll ever become a personal friend of one of your professors who’ll still be around when you reach your seventies. He was a critical thinker. He was humble – I don’t know of anybody who didn’t love him. So many people consider themselves to be his personal friend because he was so personable with everyone.”
Dr. John Meadors, professor and chair of English and philosophy at MC who delivered the homily at Cooper’s funeral, called him an “inspired teacher whose challenging and carefully reasoned lessons” were illustrated by his life.
“Joe was a philosopher, which