A Clairton native, Dr. Walter Cooper attended Washington & Jefferson College on a W & J Alumni football scholarship and played halfback along side another Washington-Greene Hall of Fame inductee, Deacon Dan Towler.
He had lettered in football, basketball and track at Clairton and was named an All-Mon Valley halfback. Because of his relatively small stature, he recalls “being ignored” a bit when beginning his gridiron career at Jay, but he turned out to be the best blocking back the team had and he averaged 55-60 minutes a game as an offensive and defensive back. He won second team Pennsylvania Small College honors in 1947 and honorable mention in 1946 and 1948.
He was being scouted by the Los Angeles Dons of the old All-American Football League in 1948, but a knee injury ended his football career on the fifth play of the first game of the 1949 season.
Dr. Cooper graduated from W & J in 1950. He received his doctorate in Physical Chemistry at the University of Rochester in 1956, the same year he began his career as a research chemist at Eastman Kodak’s Research Laboratories. He holds honorary Doctoral degrees from W & J, in 1987, and Nazareth College at Rochester, NY in 1993. He received the W & J Distinguished Alumni Award in 1968. He has received a number of honors and awards for his professional achievement and community involvement.
After serving in several senior research administrative positions, Dr. Cooper was named Manager of the Office of Technical Communications in 1985, assuming supervisory responsibility for the publications and technical reports of 2,300 Eastman scientific and research personnel. In addition, he managed a special Office of Innovation for research. He has published a wide variety of scholarly papers in the fields of physical chemistry and the chemistry of photographic film. The holder of three patents, he retired from Eastman in 1986.
Dr. Cooper was first elected Regent for the New York Seventh Judicial District at a joint session of the legislature in April, 1988, to fill the balance of a term resulting from a resignation. He was elected to a full seven-year term in April, 1991. The Seventh Judicial District covers the counties of Cayuga, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne and Yates.