Hesped (Eulogy) For Anthony Cooper
Born November 24, 1907 in Odessa, Ukraine
Died February 28, 2001 in Boca Raton, Florida
Delivered at his funeral by his granddaughter - Cantor Jessica Fox Epstein
The Psalmist asked, "May the work of our hands be enduring, O Lord. May the work of our hands endure." We are the work of the hand of Anthony Cooper. He has touched us and changed us; affected our lives. Without him, mom, Lydia and the Fox children simply would not be.
Grandpa's hands were not born to a life of labor. At the dacha we can only imagine the servants, tutors and luxury that surrounded him in his earliest, formative years. They must have been idyllic - or idealized through the prism of the years. He never truly recovered from the loss of that world - that comfort. But his hands retained the memory of the era; placing a napkin underneath a plate at the table, dressing with elegance, or preparing a cappuccino for me with aplomb at age ninety-two. He kept his thick accent all his life. He enjoyed being a debonair foreigner.
Grandpa was a survivor. He outlasted the Czar, the Soviet Union, and the greater part of the Twentieth Century. His greatest accomplishments were, of course, Mom and Lydia. But these would not have been had he not decided to leave Russia in 1927 and seek a new future in Brazil and then Argentina. He always looked ahead. The life-force and energy of this man were truly amazing. It's hard to believe he's gone. So many times we joked that he would never die - he would outlast us all. But all things pass - we are only mortal. He has reached the end of his journey in this life, and we are here to pay homage to that life - that drive.
He was a flirt and a sophisticate. He was fearless. Most of all, he was beholden to no man. He was not afraid to start from scratch - to create an egg-cream at the Russian Tea Room from actual eggs and get fired on the spot! - from beginning a new business to fixing his own car at age 92. Ellen said last night that if there is another 93 year-old man who can hook up a computer, use AOL and the Internet - let him come forward! He always embraced the future.
His hands were talented whether in the kitchen cooking up a filet mignon for Ellen and Dad just last year, wiring the house, designing, drawing, or writing a book in English in 1939 when he himself was hardly fluent. His hands were neighborly. He was a good neighbor. We know that he appreciated all their help in these final months. He was a great intellect, a smart businessman, and he had a great memory that never failed him. He remembered things, good or bad, that most of us would have forgotten.
He was also a man who used his hands to care for Ann, his beloved, during her long twilight years. He was there to hold her, feed her and care for her with all his heart. They are together now. I believe that their souls are united again in a place without pain, and full of love.
For mom and for Lydia, his beautiful legacies - there is a hole in your heart that will never heal. But the love you felt for him is eternal and will live on in you and through you. The most important thing in life is family. Grandpa never really got over the loss of his, but Mom went all over the world to bring him back his family. First Lydia, then Sasha, his nephew. This act of love has changed you, changed our family and hope will be your support, along with all of us, as time goes on. He was a deeply flawed man, but from his flaws we can learn how to embrace life, family and Judaism. He leaves behind a rich legacy of family - one he may not always have embraced - but one which is here now for all of us.
In his 1939 book, "Brazil: Your Golden Opportunity," he wrote, "The days of frontiers are not past." His amazing life-force, his neshama (soul), has left this world, but I believe it goes forward to a new frontier, to his loved ones in that place just beyond our sight.
Zichrono Livracha. May his memory be a blessing.