Liberia: “Cllr. Henry Reed Cooper Was a Genuine Patriot, Nationalist”

A casket bearing the remains of the late former Chief Justice, Cllr. Henry Reed Cooper, lying in state funeral


….Foreign Affairs Minister Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah speak out at state funeral

Dee-Maxwell Kemayah, Minister of Foreign Affairs, says that the late former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia, Counselor Henry Reed Cooper, was a genuine patriot and a true nationalist of Liberia.  

The late Cllr. Cooper died on August 24, at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital. He was 82.  

Kemayah, in his tribute on behalf of the executive over the remains of the fallen lawyer, said though he is gone, his legacy will continue to impact all those that he came across during his professional so joined. According to him, Liberia and the legal community in general has lost a revered lawyer and great statesman.

The sermon of the funeral was taken from the Book of Psalms 137:1-6 on the theme "The Profile of a True Patriot," given by a retired pastor, Rev. Dr. Erlene P. Thompson, of the First United Methodist Church on Ashmun Street.

"To the Cooper family, your fallen husband, father, cousin, nephew, family member, and relative did leave an indelible mark not only within the judiciary of our country but beyond the judiciary and borders of our country.” He said. “Please continue to be proud of him. And it is such exemplary service that every Liberian, as you heard from our preacher this morning, is authorized to live and exhibit patriotism." 

However, Cooper was a highly respected figure in Liberian society. He was known for his intellect, his integrity, and his commitment to justice. He was a role model for many young Liberians, and he inspired them to pursue careers in law and public service. Many regard him as “a true patriot who dedicated his life to the service of Liberia.” He will be remembered as one of the most distinguished jurists in the country’s history. 

Kemayah told sympathizers and well-wishers that the late former Chief Justice was a man who did hide the truth; he stoned for justice, and as a result of that, the administration of President George Manneh Weah is proud of him.

According to him, the deceased left no stone unturned during his legal profession and as such, the government is very proud to join the family in mourning his loss.

Kemayah disclosed that Cllr. Cooper was diligent to duty when he took over at a time all were scattered with respect to the legal profession or the judiciary of Liberia from windows, everything was falling apart yet during that difficult period of ours but he still served his country to the best. 

“Under and even his public service in government from the private sector, we heard testimony. Indeed, the late Cllr. Henry Reed Cooper comprehensively served our society, and he served this society within a wholesome manner and form, cutting across all sectors.” He explained. Be it, the public, private, or church.” 

“To the Cooper family and in particular to you, Mrs. Nadu Laitey Cooper, sons, and others, you have a reason to celebrate and walk the streets not only in Liberia but to walk the streets of the world with your heads up high for this great son, father, husband, and family member of yours. As we heard even from the retired pastor Thompson in her sermon this morning, all give more reasons to celebrate the life of this fallen hero of our country,” he admonished the bereaved family on behalf of the government.

Senator Conmany B. Wesseh, who also paid a tearing tribute on behalf of the National Legislature, especially the Liberian Senate, further described the fallen legal luminary and former professor of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law was indeed a true patriot and a very good man.

“Indeed, it was correctly said that he was and is still regarded as a man of great intellect with integrity, especially at this time in our country. He was an erudite and renowned lawyer," he said.

Wesseh also remembered the late Cllr. Cooper during the time of negotiating the Peace Talk in Ghana.

According to him, the deceased was up and down in their hotel, wherever they were, and I think that he wanted it to be known that he contributed so much to the details of that agreement that the agreement is being celebrated 20 years today.

Wesseh narrated in his tribute that it's been 20 years since the comprehensive agreement was signed, and “I think he wanted to see it happen because he was concerned about certain details in that agreement. He died after the agreement was observed 20 years ago, and now we are continuing the peace. We want to thank him for those roles that he played."

Also, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, in tribute to Cllr. Cooper, will go down in history as one of those who served their country with distinction in all spheres of the legal profession before their retirement, the pinnacle being that of the former Chief Justice of Liberia.

She said the late Cooper was known for his sense of national history and culture, with a demeanor of calm, thoughtfulness, and evidence-based details that guided the opinions that will go down in history. 

"He stood above his peers for strict adherence to values that centered on rights, fairness, justice, and honesty, the latter of which is not common in the nation," Madam Sirleaf added.

Paying the family tribute, Jesse Reed Cooper, son of the deceased, said his father was a solution oriented and a man who would go out of his way against all odds to help and take care of family, friends, and those around him.

He said, “Many of us will remember him for his devotion to the legal profession, his strong will to excel, his determination to succeed against the odds, the resiliency with which he bounced back after being hit so many times by life’s adversities and, of course, the profound, unwavering love that he had for our Republic of Liberia.” 

“Anyone who has lived with him, worked with him, had fun with him, or fussed with him—someone said, "If he didn’t fuss with you, it means he didn’t care for you.—knows how special he was—a devoted and loving husband, a supportive and caring father, a strong and passionate family man, and a dedicated and reliable friend. Rest well, Papa; rest well, husband, brother, nephew, uncle, and cousin, Henry Reed Cooper. You will be missed dearly! We love you!” Cooper said.

Additionally, the late Cllr. Cooper attended the University of Liberia, where he earned his first degree and, subsequently, took a Bachelor of Laws degree at the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law. He was admitted to the Liberian Bar Association. Henry Reed Cooper later obtained the Master of Laws from University of Pennsylvania Law School. 

Before entering legal practice, Cooper worked at the Department of State (now Ministry of Foreign Affairs, RL), in the office of the late Secretary of State, J. Rudolph Grimes. 

As a prominent lawyer, he was a partner at the Bright, Cooper & Simpson Law Office, which later became Cooper & Togbah Law Office. 

At the height of his legal career, Henry Reed Cooper served as the 24th Chief Justice of the Republic of Liberia during the administration of the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL), from 2003 to 2006.  

Cooper retired from the Supreme Court in 2006, succeeded by His Honor Johnnie N. Lewis (deceased). At the Cooper & Togbah Law Office, he continued to practice law until his death. 

Cllr. Henry Reed Cooper was a respected jurist and a distinguished public servant. He received a national honor from Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf bestowed upon him the honor of Knight Grand Band, Order of the Star of Africa. 

He was a dedicated advocate for the rule of law and the protection of human rights. He will be remembered for his contributions to Liberia's legal system and his commitment to justice.

In addition to his legal career, Cooper was also active in a number of professional and civic organizations. He was past president of several organizations including the Liberia Bar Association, the Rotary Club of Monrovia, and the Liberia Boy Scouts. He was also a founding board member of the S.O.S. Children’s Village Liberia.  

Cooper was also a talented musician and generous supporter of the arts. He started playing piano and viola at the age of 3 and, by the age of 14, he was playing in a band at a local night club. He later turned his talents to the service of the church, where served as choir director of a Methodist Church for over 10 years. 

The late Chief Justice is survived by his wife Annie Nadu Cooper; four sons, Ervin V., Henry Reed III, Jesse Reed, and Charles Dorme; several grandchildren, siblings and other family members in Liberia and abroad.

He was buried on Saturday, September 9, 2023, at the Cooper Farm cemetery along the Monrovia-Kakata highway.