George C. Cooper


Inducted 2004


George C. Cooper was a member of the “Golden Thirteen:” the first thirteen African American officers commissioned by the U.S. Navy. Throughout his career, he faced considerable prejudice because of his race, and yet maintained an unshakable commitment to treating everyone the way he wanted to be treated himself. Paul Stillwell’s book called The Golden Thirteen chronicles some of the episodes of racism that these pioneering black officers faced, such as sailors crossing the street rather than offering the appropriate salute to an officer. During his time in the Navy and later when he worked for the city of Dayton as the first black department director he served as a valued mentor for other African Americans. Mr. Cooper believed in the responsibility to help others, and was able to use his interaction with others as an opportunity to lead them to judge him not by the color of his skin but as a human being.