When Alan Cooper, a longtime member of the South East Tennessee Football Officials Association, died from cancer at the age of 50 on Dec. 26, 2022, his referee comrades immediately sought a way to honor their brother in stripes.
Cooper, according to official Gray Ramsey, was "influential on officiating not only in Chattanooga but across the Southeast."
The relatively unadorned officials locker room at Finley Stadium became the target.
Ramsey received backing from Brian Wright, executive director of The Stadium Corporation, and Dr. Jay Blackman, deputy athletics director at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and support through a GoFundMe account from local and state officials, plus officials from the National Football League, Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference, Southern Conference and numerous other football conferences, as well as alumni of Cooper's class at McCallie School. In two short months, they exceeded their goal of raising $10,000.
With the money, they purchased seating that had been lacking in the room, a whiteboard that can be used for pregame meetings, and a clock to track until kickoff or the end of halftime; repainted the room, replaced the wall base; replaced the room's original, rotting countertops and raised one to countertop height for staging equipment; created a plaque dedicating the room to Cooper; and installed a "memorial locker" with the late official's uniform and game equipment.
Ramsey said he had help in the effort from numerous people but mentioned specific efforts from fellow officials Mike Winnie and Chuck Coddington, Stadium Corporation member Larry Parks, and Ramsey's wife, Emily.
They unveiled it all as a surprise for Cooper's widow, Laura, their children, his parents, George and Pat Cooper, and family members on Aug. 3.