We're working on a photographic timeline of Besse Cooper's life which has never been made public. Archival quality of such historical photographs vary, but be assured we've got some real gems, including a recent discovery of a photo of Besse at age 5, made along with her extended family.
Since we're on the subject of photographs, the one to the right was taken when she was 103 years old, still living at home, in her beloved farmhouse. Here we see her enjoying a conversation with one of her grandchildren.
Besse Cooper as a recent college graduate (of what is now East Tennessee State University), teacher and suffragette.
Circa 1917, Johnson City, Tennessee
Outdoors with a dog at her side, enjoying flowers, this scene would be replayed well over a century. Besse would have several German shepherds and continue gardening at her Georgia farm through age 105.
Circa 1920, Sullivan County, Tennessee
Besse looks upon her older brother, Ralph, with admiration, as the two were very close. This bond would last a lifetime. Ralph traveled from Tennessee to Besse's farm in Georgia, staying several weeks to comfort his sister, after her husband, Luther, died in 1963. Ralph would remain a favorite topic of Besse's stories through her latter years.
Circa 1916, Sullivan County, Tennessee
The header photograph, with "Besse Brown Cooper Foundation" text spanning the roof line, is of her farmhouse, built circa 1870. Home to her history, she would spend nearly 75 years of her 116 years in this modest, yet beautiful farmhouse. Home to her extraordinary lifetime of experiences and memories... home.
Finally, and quite important to note, the main page features the black and white portrait work of photographer Paul Mobley. Made in June of 2011, here Besse Cooper nears her 115th birthday. On a planet of some 7 billion people, she represented a group of supercentenarians numbering fewer than 100 persons. Indeed, she represented all of us.
Please return soon for updates!
Besse Brown Cooper Foundation
Your contribution to our efforts is greatly appreciated.