One of the disadvantages of living to a ripe, ripe old age is that when you die a lot of people don’t know it. Such is the case of Lucy Cooper, who died at almost age 96 in June. Lucy was a regular contributor to Gold Coast magazine for a number of years, but we just learned about her death a few weeks ago. Even if you don’t read obits, which we normally don’t, it is hard not to hear about the death of somebody who wrote for us and for both major South Florida newspapers.
But Lucy did not have a lot of family, at least not in Florida. Her husband had died years before, she had only one son, and therefore was deprived of the grandchildren and great grandchildren who sometimes bring a crowd to an old timer’s funeral. Lucy had suffered a stroke some years before and had been largely confined to her apartment. When you don’t get around, people don’t miss you.
Still, we should have known. The reason we didn’t was because she left the world in mid-June, at exactly the time we were enjoying an extended family gathering at the classy old resort of Cape May, N.J. We were staying at a spectacular home on the beach and enjoying it very much. We later learned that the Miami Herald, where Lucy was a restaurant critic for many years, gave her a nice sendoff. But in Cape May we were not checking the local papers online, so we did not get the word. By the time we returned to Florida a few weeks later, the few friends who knew Lucy well had stopped talking about her. It was months before somebody did.
It was when she was retiring from the Herald that Lucy began writing almost monthly for our magazines. She was more than just an enjoyer of food. She was an outstanding cook and she threw an annual brunch at her apartment for friends in which everything was home cooked. Although she took her work seriously, in 1982 she did a mugging pose for a Gold Coast cover (above). That issue turned out to be one of the more important in our company’s history. It featured the first installment of Gaeton Fonzi’s three-part series on the Ivy League drug runner, Ken Burnstine.
Although food was her specialty, Lucy also occasionally departed into other fields. She did a memorable piece on a trip she took, first to her native city of Altoona, Pa., and then on the New York. She compared lifestyles of Altoona, not known for much except the famous Horseshoe Curve on the old Pennsylvania Railroad, with New York, which is known for a lot of things. Considering the competition, Altoona got a good review.