Elected: March 12, 1999
Inducted: August 21, 1999
Mary Katherine Kollman Cooper, or Katy as she is known to all was born July 9, 1936. After her schooling she worked as a laboratory technician. She married Louis Cooper, owner of Cooper Body & Towing, and mothered two daughters, Marci and Sherri.
In 1972, the Cooper family was involved in a serious auto accident. Louie was left paralyzed from the neck down. Katy, although seriously injured, had no permanent damage. Their daughters, then 3 and 6 were not seriously injured.
She found herself with months of recovery ahead, two young children, a quadriplegic husband and a business to run. She didn’t feel sorry for herself, she just did what had to be done and took over the business. It was then she realized that although Louie was an excellent mechanic and body man he was a lousy bookkeeper. It seemed he ran the business on honor not paperwork. The business grew and was a success, mostly by Katy’s hard work, Cooper’s good name and little bit of luck. In 1975, Katy built a bigger and better building to house the expanding business. By now the company had grown from 3 employees to 10. She leased the old building out to a body man and went strictly into truck repair and towing, thus Cooper Towing & Repair. But there was still the matter of a bed bound husband at how and 2 growing daughters to attend to. Although she had a full time nurse to care for her husband while she worked, Katy did most of the chores that needed to be done by herself. She cooked for her family dinner every night, never missed a school program or a teacher conference and often loaded the family, even Louie, into her van and went on outings and even camping on occasion.
In 1977, she moved her family into a new home she designed herself. It was built to her specifications for ease in moving Louie from room to room so he could be involved with the family in everything. Her daughters never felt their family was any different than any other family. They had a mother and father who loved them, a beautiful home and even two dogs.
Louie’s long struggle came to an end in 1982, ten years after the accident. Katy once again lost her husband, but life had to go on not for herself, but for her daughters, now 16 and 13. It was hard not to have Louie around to bounce ideas and worries off. She shared her burdens with no one. In 1983, she joined the Professional Towing and Recovery Operators of Illinois. She then had other people to share with.
In 1984, after many battles with the village of Orland over zoning, Katy moved her family and business to its present location. It was like starting over, but the town was nice and the Cooper’s soon made its good name known. Katy served as Director, 1st and 2nd Vice President and President of PTROI. She has served on many committees over the years, but is famous for the many years she served as convention committee chairman. Katy won numerous awards over the years and was voted Tow Woman of the year 2 years in a row. Katy has had a long hard struggle to make the business a success, but she did it! She has even been known to hop in one of the trucks to go on calls, although she much prefers her Lincoln. Today, she stands as a pillar in the community. She sits on the Board of Commerce and Industry, works as a volunteer for Santa’s Helpers and is the treasurer of her church. She has a loving husband, Jerry Blummer, two daughters (married to Gratzianna brothers) and five soon to be six grandchildren. She is loved by all and a truly great woman. She has been in our “Hall of Fame” for years.