Professor Des Rudolph Cooper

Professor Des Rudolph Cooper

It is with sadness that we inform staff members of the death of Desmond Rudolph Cooper, former Director of the Leather Industries Research Institute (LIRI Technologies) in Grahamstown and Professor Emeritus of Rhodes University.

Professor Cooper passed away peacefully in Port Alfred on Thursday, 19th February 2015.

Des was born in Durban on 14th April 1928, and grew up in the area, matriculating from Durban High School in 1944.  He worked as a Laboratory Assistant from 1945 to 1948 at the local Technical College, at the same time as studying towards a BSc degree in Chemistry and Mathematics at Natal University.  He transferred to Rhodes University in 1949 after being offered a scholarship by the Leather Industries Research Institute to work as a student assistant, and he completed his degree in 1950, followed by an honours degree in Chemistry in 1951, and a Masters degree with Distinction in 1952, all at Rhodes University. During this time, Des captained the 1st soccer team.

From 1953 to 1956 he read for a PhD degree at Cambridge University on a Scholarship from LIRI, where he represented Cambridge in their 1st soccer team, and rowed in the New Museums Boat Club eight.

On graduating from Cambridge, Professor Cooper returned to LIRI for a while, before gaining further experience at the SA Institute for Medical Research in Modderfontein, and Protea Holdings in Johannesburg.  His career brought him back to LILI in 1962 as head of the Hides, Skins, and Protein Section.  In subsequent years he rose through the ranks at LIRI, and served as the Director of the Institute from 1975 to 1991. 

Des met his wife Elizabeth Ann Cooper (nee Stone) at Rhodes University, and they married in 1958.  A BA graduate of Rhodes, Liz contributed much to the town and university communities, some of it through her association with the Drama Department, and some as Chair of the Rhodes Women's Association during the mid-1980s.

After retiring, Des and Liz moved to Port Alfred, where Des played a lot of golf and bowls, did a bit of fishing, and was active in Rotary.  He was also an estate agent for just over a decade, which enabled him to keep his finger on the pulse of what was happening in Port Alfred.

Emeritus Professor Des Cooper is survived by his wife Liz, and his three sons Antony, Justin, and Gary. 


Last Modified: Mon, 08 Aug 2016 14:57:41 SAST