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Zona Cooper

Zona Irene (Hamilton) Cooper, a 60-year resident of Prineville, died Wednesday, April 4, 2007 at St. Charles Medical Center in Bend.
   She was 87.
   Zona was born July 12, 1919, in Big Cedar, Okla., to John Riley Hamilton and Ora Lee (Thompson) Hamilton.
   She was the eldest of eight children.
   On Dec. 17, 1938, in Pickens, Okla., shortly after graduating from her local high school as class valedictorian, Zona married Vester Thurman Cooper. Initially, they farmed and cut timber in Oklahoma and began a family. With the outbreak of World War II, the young couple moved to Houston, Texas, where Vester worked in the shipyards for the duration of the war.
   In 1947, when the shipyards were closed at war's end, the couple moved to Oregon where the timber industry offered good wages for skilled timber fallers.
   Upon arrival in Prineville, they purchased a small tract of swamp land south of the city, which now includes the land beneath the present First Baptist and Mormon churches.
   There they remained for the rest of their lives, farming and eventually raising six children.
   As her youngest daughter prepared to leave home, Zona decided that in addition to her successful career as a wife and mother, she wanted more out of life.
   At the age of 50, she returned to school, attending Central Oregon Community College, where she completed a program and received certification as a licensed practical nurse.
   She was immediately employed at Pioneer Memorial Hospital in Prineville, where she worked for the rest of her career. From earliest arrival in Prineville, Zona was a stalwart supporter of the Prineville Assembly of God Church, of which she was the last remaining charter member at the time of her death.
   She raised money to help construct three separate buildings for the growing church, and she taught Sunday school for 25 years and served as church secretary for five years.
   It was in no small part her faith carried her through great personal tragedy, including the loss of her youngest son, Larry, to bone cancer at the age of 11 in February 1962 and the loss of her eldest son, Norman, to Lou Gehrig's disease in September 2001 and her own battles with a brain tumor and breast cancer.
   Throughout her life, Zona's mind was keen and active.
   She enjoyed keeping up with current events on the national, state and local scene.
   She worked a crossword puzzle daily and always had several books going. Through her mid-80s she remained self sufficient, chopping her own firewood, and raising chickens and cows.
   She looked forward to the arrival of summer each year so that as late as last summer, at the age of 86, she could hook her travel trailer to her pickup and haul it to the forest for weekends camping with friends and family.
   Zona is survived by: four children, Thurman "Bud" Cooper of Richland, Wash., Robert "Bob" Cooper of Eagle Creek, Ore., Donna Walker of Arnold, Mo., and Linda Willett of Gladstone, Ore. She is also survived by: three brothers, Dewey Hamilton of Prineville, Bill Hamilton of Powell Butte, and Loyd Hamilton of Oklahoma City, Okla.
   Her sister, Ruby (Hamilton) Wallace, and brothers Doyle, Donald, and Dale predeceased her.
   She is also survived by 15 grandchildren, 24 great- grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.
   A visitation will be conducted Sunday, April 8, from 4 to 8 p.m. at Whispering Pines Funeral Home in Prineville.
   A service will be conducted Monday, April 9, at 1 p.m. at the First Assembly of God Church in Prineville.
   Memorial contributions may be made to the First Assembly of God Church or to the Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland.