Monday, June 11, 2012

Armwell Lockwood Cooper (1870-1957)

   A prominent Kansas City attorney and past president of the Missouri State Bar Association, Armwell Lockwood Cooper's political claim-to-fame rests on his service in the Missouri State Senate. This oddly named man was not a native Missourian, as he was originally born in Willow Grove, Delaware on November 15, 1870. His parents, Thomas and Emily Marvel Cooper, are listed as being farmers and their son is recorded as attending the Wilmington Conference Academy in Dover as a youth.
  The Cooper family eventually left Delaware and resettled in Kansas, where Armwell completed his education at the Kansas State Normal School in the town of Ft. Scott. He removed to Kansas City, Missouri in 1890 and it is here that he began the study of law. Cooper was admitted to the state bar in 1895 and that same year entered the law office of Henry Wollman. This law firm eventually became known as Wollman, Sullivan and Cooper and continued under this name until 1905. 
  Armwell L. Cooper is recorded as marrying Cleveland, Ohio native Caroline Ley in November 1899 and two daughters were eventually born to them, Dorothy Emily Cooper (who died aged 18 in 1920) and Gertrude Caroline, who was born in 1905. Caroline Ley Cooper died in 1925 after 26 years of marriage and two years later Cooper remarried to Kansas City native Blanche Green. 
   Cooper eventually began a successful solo law practice in the mid-1900s and is recorded by the 1908 work Kansas City, Missouri: Its History and Its People as having a reputation won "through earnest, honest labor, and his standing at the bar is a merited tribute to his ability." This book also gives note that in addition to his lucrative law practice, Cooper began lecturing on "Code, Common Law, Pleading and Practice" at the Kansas City School of Law.
  In 1906 Armwell L. Cooper made the jump into state politics when he was elected to the Missouri State Senate. He officially took his seat in January 1907 and during his two-year term sat on the following committees: Judiciary, Wills and Probate Law, Municipal Corporations, and County Courts and Justices of the Peace. A Missouri legislative roster (published in 1907) bearing Cooper's name is shown below.

   In the years following his brief term in the Senate, Cooper continued with his law practice while also being involved with a number of other public endeavors. He served as a general counsel and director of the Liberty National Bank and was also a high ranking member of a number of fraternal organizations, including the Knights of Pythias, Elks, and Masons. In addition to the above activities, Cooper was elected in 1922 as the President of the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association (serving a one year term) and in 1935 was named as President of the Missouri State Bar Association.
  Armwell Lockwood Cooper died at age 87 on April 16, 1957, and was interred in the Mount Washington Cemetery in Independence, Missouri. Cooper's first wife Caroline and his daughter (who predeceased him in 1925 and 1920, respectively) are also buried here.

This portrait of Armwell L. Cooper appeared in a 1935 edition of the Hannibal Missouri Courier-Post.

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