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Kirk Cooper (1932-2018)

  • Sailing great: Edmund Kirkland “Kirk” Cooper (File photograph)

Edmund Kirkland “Kirk” Cooper, a champion sailor and three-times Olympian, has died, aged 86.

Mr Cooper founded the accounting firm Cooper and Lines in 1959 with his friend and business partner, David Lines. The company later became a member firm of Coopers & Lybrand, now PwC Bermuda.

Mr Cooper, an auditor and financial adviser, retired as a managing partner of PwC.

Mr Cooper served on a variety of boards and was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1986 for his service to the island.

As well as sitting on the Civil Aviation Board and Airport Licensing Board in the 1960s and 1970s, Mr Cooper was chairman at the Department of Tourism from 1983 to 1993.

He served on the Bermuda Economic Council from 1984 to 1990 and the Bermuda International Business Association, where he was president from 1974 to 1975.

Mr Cooper was a founding member as well as president of the Bermuda Yachting Association, and served as commodore of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in 1972.

He was also chairman on the board of department store AS Cooper & Sons.

His widow, Helen, said Mr Cooper was “a great guy who loved Bermuda — he was a man of endless energy”.

Ms Cooper added: “There were a lot of young people that Kirk helped along the way and his many international clients also became good friends.

“His personality was just tireless and he was very competitive.”

Mr Cooper was a champion backstroke swimmer at school but his wife said he was drawn more to team sports.

His father, Edmund Cooper, had been among six athletes on Bermuda’s swimming team for the 1936 Olympics, and encouraged his son’s efforts in the pool.

Ms Cooper said: “Kirk preferred to be with crews and his crews all loved him. Kirk also liked sailing because it was technical.”

His sailing career included three trips to the Olympic Games — Tokyo 1964, where he came close to a bronze medal, Mexico City 1968 and Munich 1972, where Mr Cooper was the flag bearer for Bermuda at the opening ceremony.

Mr Cooper was also a regular participant in the Newport to Bermuda race.

Mr Cooper said after the 1994 race: “Each time we go out it’s a different challenge. You never stop learning. It must be like chess.”

Sir John Swan, a former premier, said Mr Cooper was “a very dear friend of mine ever since the time I returned to Bermuda and found myself trying to learn more about the island and its establishments”.

Sir John added: “He was a fantastic sailor. He was an achiever, always trying to figure out how to make things happen. He certainly helped me.”

Sir John said Mr Cooper helped him secure a bank loan to build the John Swan Building on Victoria Street in Hamilton and aided him as he entered the world of politics.

He added: “I has very fortunate to have him in my life. He was a man of great integrity.”

Sir John added that Mr Cooper was always friendly and a family man.

He said: “He was always happiest with his wife and his family.”

One of Mr Cooper’s proudest moments was his selection as the first Bermudian juror for the America’s Cup in 1983 — when the challenger Australia II won the trophy.

Mr Cooper was inducted into the Bermuda Sports Hall of Fame for his contributions to sailing in 2005.

His son, Philip, said: “He was always encouraging and a positive voice, interacting in whatever we were doing growing up — including sports and educational pursuits and career choices.”

Alexa, his eldest child, said her father had “touched many with his kindness and generous spirit”.

Mr Cooper is also survived by two other daughters, Dana and Helen, and nine grandchildren.

His family said last night that his life would be celebrated with a private family service at Hamilton’s Anglican Cathedral.