Mary Frances Bush Cooper, daughter of the late Wallace Warren Bush, Sr. and Rebecca Barton Bush, was born in Dunbarton, South Carolina on November 27, 1918.
She is one of eight Bush siblings who lived to adulthood and the last to go home. In birth order, they are Otis Bush 1911, Elizabeth Carolyne Bush Driver 1912, Ruth Anna Bush Tweed 1914, Elijah Bush 1916, Wallace Warren Bush, Jr. 1919, Merdis Bush Bush 1922 and Eva Mae Bush Beatty 1924. As mulattoes born in the oppressive deep, racist South, the Bushes migrated North to find refuge and success in New York City.
To her siblings, Frances was simply “Frankie”--the one to lovingly support her family whenever there was a crisis. In her youth, she was popular in the Harlem night-clubbing scene with celebrities like Lena Horne, Duke Ellington and her first cousin’s husband, Broadway arranger and conductor, Luther Henderson. She married Albert Cooper in her early thirties, moved to Wichita Kansas and raised her adopted son, Donald Wayne Cooper. Frances was a hard-working, deeply religious woman and had much to show for her efforts. She earned her living as a sous chef and landlord, renting out rooms and apartments. Despite coming from a dirt-poor background, she built quite an estate with only a high school education. In fact,
Ms. Cooper is a shining example of African American determination and enterprise. According to family lore, she made a bet with her brother Wallace as to who would be the most prosperous. Winner is unknown and will have to be determined when they all meet in Heaven.
In her final years, Frances renewed her parenting skills. She became a “Second Mother” to her great-niece May Glenise Cortez Beatty. Their deep bond was especially forged after the loss of May’s mother Lisa, and grandmother, Eva Mae. They lived together in humor and harmony in the Queens NY house May’s father grew up in. Her motherly advice ran the gamut from “you work too much” when May pulled 6-day work weeks to “finish your college education.” To ensure her future, Frances named May the executor of her estate. Right to the very end, May remained her faithful caregiver.
Frances Cooper touched many lives and she will be missed by nieces, nephews and friends. Living Nieces: Connie Bush Greene, Andrea Bush Burnham, Shirley Ann Beatty Collier, Loise Bush McClelland, and Dr. Andrea Carroll Tweed. Living Nephews: Dr. Gilbert Alfort Bush, Rev. Aaron Bush, Howard Bush, Roland Tweed, Esq. and Wayne Tweed. Frances’ Living First Cousin: Linda Barton Allen. Frances’ Living Second Cousin: Luther Lincoln Henderson. Sister-In-Law: Lourenia Bush. Life-Long Friend: “PeeWee” Whitson Brown.
To send flowers to the family of Frances Bush Cooper, please visit our Heartfelt Sympathies Store.