ABOUT ROBERT E. COOPER
* 1920: Born in Chattanooga
* 1946: Graduated from University of North Carolina
* 1949: Graduated from Vanderbilt University School of Law, began private law practice in Chattanooga
* 1953: Appointed judge of 6th Judicial Circuit
* 1960: Appointed to Court of Appeals
* 1974: Elected to Tennessee Supreme Court
* 1990: Ended tenure on Supreme Court
Source: Tennessee Supreme Court
While his judicial colleagues lauded him for his professional accomplishments Tuesday, former Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert E. Cooper showed off another of his assets: his sense of humor.
“I appreciate this many people being here,” he said. “I didn’t know this many knew I was still alive.”
Mr. Cooper, 88, was referring to the crowd that packed the Hamilton County Commission room Tuesday afternoon to witness the unveiling of his portrait, which will hang in the Supreme Court building in Knoxville.
Funds left over from the effort to get the portrait made will be used for law school scholarships, Mr. Cooper said.
Mr. Cooper, a Chattanooga native, served on the Tennessee Supreme Court from 1974 to 1990, and he served two two-year terms as chief justice.
When he first was elected, he and other justices ran under the slogan “Elect a great Supreme Court.” In the spirit of comedian Flip Wilson, Mr. Cooper joked about also putting up campaign signs that said, “Here come the judges.”
Among the speakers honoring Justice Cooper was former Supreme Court Justice William Barker, who related the story of first meeting Mr. Cooper when he was working for Frank Clement’s gubernatorial campaign. At that time, Mr. Cooper was a judge in the state Court of Appeals.
“You don’t know how impressed I was,” Mr. Barker said. “You’re still the best judge I’ve known.”
Mr. Cooper’s son, Bob Cooper, is Tennessee’s attorney general.