Deceased 93-Year-Old Rep. Barbara Cooper Re-Elected To Tennessee House

Deceased 93-Year-Old Rep. Barbara Cooper Re-Elected To Tennessee House

Rep. Barbara Cooper (D-TN) was re-elected to Tennessee House District 86 on Tuesday, despite her unexpected death on Oct. 25.

The late state representative defeated Independent Michael Porter by more than 5,000 votes. She was 93.

According to the Shelby County Election Commission, her name remained on the Nov. 8 ballot “as mandated by state law” following her unexpected death. Gov. Bill Lee will issue a Writ of Election, and a special election to fill Cooper’s seat will be held at a later date. The Shelby County Commission also has the right to appoint someone to fill the vacant seat until the special election is held.

Cooper was a retired teacher of Memphis City Schools. She was first elected in 1996 and served as an education reform ambassador in Memphis for 26 years.

Rep. John Ray Clemmons (D-TN) reflected on his time with Cooper and said that he had memorable moments working with the no-nonsense retired school teacher. He also noted that she always gave him support and sage advice.

“She acted and behaved with the type of sincere integrity every Tennessean would hope to have in their representative.”

“You didn’t get any run around or bulls from Mrs. Cooper. She didn’t have time for it. She told you like it was and I absolutely loved her for it.”

House Minority Leader Karen Camper of Memphis also had kind words for Cooper. “I am deeply saddened by the passing of my longtime colleague and dear friend, Barbara Cooper,” said Camper.

“She was a warrior for her community and the city of Memphis, a tireless advocate for education and equality issues and just a delightful person. We will all miss her.”

Cooper earned both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Tennessee State University. She was also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators, the National Council of Negro Women, and the NAACP.