Aspen, CO Colorado
Aspen realtor Michael Cooper passed away peacefully at his Aspen residence last Thursday morning of unknown causes.
He was found around noon after missing a morning meeting and not responding to calls from work and friends. Mike would have turned 66 on the next day, June 12. He was well-known around Aspen for his hard work, broad Cheshire-cat grin and quick wit, his Libertarian views and his contrarian license plate – “RESIST.”
Michael is survived by his wife of 26 years, Bland Nesbit; father George and stepmother Elizabeth Cooper of Lawrenceburg, Tenn.; brothers Tom, Steve and Dave, nephew Lane; and his many friends, with whom he enjoyed flying, sailing, motorcycling, hiking, snowshoeing, long-range target shooting and arguing politics. Forced by his wife to live with a family of rescue dogs throughout their marriage, he grew to be a passionate animal lover and is sadly missed by them all, especially his beloved elderly beagle mix, Cleo. He was always very loyal, compassionate and generous to his friends and to everyone who worked for him.
Michael practiced real estate for more than 20 years and was Aspen’s first and only “buyer’s broker” at one time. He was the owner and managing broker of Cooper Real Estate in Aspen for the past four years. He was well-known for his outrageous and often politically incorrect ads in the newspapers.
Born in West Lafayette, Ind., Michael grew up in an area divided by agriculture and education. He paradoxically excelled in academics and juvenile delinquency before being drafted in the early ’60s into the Army, where he spent four years in Korea. After completing both Indo-Chinese and stateside duties, Michael enrolled in Purdue University, where he completed a bachelor’s degree in aviation technology in 1970 and did post-graduate work in business administration and finance. He had lived in South Florida for 10 years, working in both restaurant management and commercial real estate, when he took a trip to Aspen/Snowmass and decided to move here in 1979.
Michael’s employment during his early years in Aspen was pure ’70s -he tended bar at the Jerome, the Paragon and other establishments, cooked at several restaurants in Snowmass, managed and sold real estate, and flew gliders with Dieter Bibbig’s commercial soaring operation at Sardy Field. Michael was an avid and accomplished pilot with commercial ratings for both aircraft and gliders, including certified flight instructor and instrument ratings. He was president of the Decathlon Aerobatic Airplane Club at the Aspen Airport and past member of the Experimental Aircraft Association.
Michael also served on several local boards for many years – something he loved doing – including the Brush Creek Village Metro District as president, the Pitkin County Financial Advisory Board and the Pitkin County Board of Adjustment. Never one to sit still, he planned on building and flying a 200-mph home-built aircraft for recreational and business travel.
A private family service will be held soon, followed by a to-be-announced and irreverent celebration and memorial sometime later this summer. Donations in his memory may be made to one of his favorite organizations: the Libertarian party or the NRA. To the vast majority, including his wife and many of his best friends who would never do that, please – if you wish – make a donation to your favorite charity in his name.
Mike was truly one of the vanishing breed of local Aspen characters. His unique energy, enthusiasm and compassion for others will be sorely missed. He always said, “I think they broke the mold when they made me.” They just don’t make them like this any more …
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It’s that time of year — hikers and mountain bikers must be aware that seasonal closures are taking effect on multiple trails in the area today for the winter for the benefit of wildlife.