Heroes in Black History: Dr. Curtis V. Cooper

By Dawn Baker - email | bio

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The late Dr. Curtis V. Cooper saw a tremendous need in our community. Instead of complaining amongst friends and family like so many people do, he sprung into the action and did something.

This community is forever indebted to this great man - a true agent of change. While working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a research technician, he saw how poor people on the west side of Savannah did not have access to healthcare. He met with a handful of friends in a shed in yard and there they came up with the idea that completely changed health care for the indigent.

In 1972, he secured funds for the establishment of a comprehensive health center for the city's indigent and served as its executive director. Under his management, it grew into the Westside Urban Health Center, a major medical resource. Today the clinic is known as the Curtis V. Cooper Primary Health Care Center. There are three facilities serving the indigent in Chatham County.

In 1984, Cooper became one of the first black members of Memorial Medical Center's board of directors. In 1995, he was elected chairman of that board. He was also the chairman of the Chatham County Hospital Authority twice and he served on the Georgia State Access to Health Care Commission and the Georgia State Health Strategies Council.

Cooper didn't only make a name for himself in the health care industry, but he was a foot soldier for freedom and justice. His desire for equality began when he was only child. Cooper was a leader in the local Youth Council of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and later became president of the NAACP Savannah Branch.

People who knew him best describe Dr. Curtis V. Cooper as a smart, happy, compassionate man who lived by the motto "everything is possible if you believe in yourself". He lived his life by treating everyone the way he wanted to be treated. That is a lesson all of us can live by. Dr. Curtis V. Cooper departed this life in January 2000, but no one will ever forget how this remarkable man changed our community forever.

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