WINSTON “Gus” Cooper was born in Lower Bogue, Eleuthera, November 17, 1941, the son of Hubert Cooper and Llonella Cooper.
Gus was educated at Southern Prep, Southern Junior, Eastern Senior, St John’s College and Morgan State College in Baltimore, Maryland.
After joining the public service, Gus later continued his education and received an Advanced Diploma in Public Administration and Policy Management.
An avid sportsman, Gus participated in sports while in high school and college. He was active in track and field competing in the 400 meters, triple jump, baseball and softball. His love for sports was exemplified later on when he became one of the first Bahamians to own and operate a sporting goods store called “Champion Sports Land”. Gus coached many National Bahamian Track and Field teams overseas; the 1968 Olympics, Mexico City, Mexico; in 1970 the Bahamas Pan American Team Cali, Colombia; in 1971 the Commonwealth Games Team Edinburgh, Scotland; 1972 Olympic Team Munich, Germany.
In 1972, he was elected President of the Bahamas Amateur Athletic Association (BAAA) where he served until 1976. In 1996, he was selected to the BAAA’s Hall of Fame as a Sports Administrator. Gus began his professional career as Physical Education Teacher at Harrold Road Secondary School (A. F. Adderley) in 1967; in 1969 he was appointed Head of the Physical Education Department; Highbury High School (R. M. Bailey): in 1972, he joined the Bahamas Teachers College; he was appointed Head of the Physical Education Department at the College of The Bahamas; in 1977, he was promoted to Director of Sports at the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture. During his tenure at the Ministry of Sports, he served as the Administrative Chairman of the 3rd, 4th and 5th Bahamas Games.
In 1958, he and many of his friends from the Centreville area organised themselves into a group called the Valley Boys. Gus actually spearheaded the group’s formation and emerged as the leader.
Called the “Father of Modern Day Junkanoo”, Gus became renowned for his creative costume designs, discipline, a desire to achieve excellence and a unique ability for organising parades. The Valley Boys overall group performance record is indeed a testimony to the organisation’s eminence.
Gus attributed his achievements to the love and guidance of his mother, the support of his wife and family and the guidance and tutoring of his priest/teacher, the Rt Rev’d Michael Eldon (deceased).
Gus married Cassandra
Weech. The couple’s marriage produced five sons, Anthony (pre-deceased his father), Francisco, Augustus, Elton and Ashley.
Click on the link below to watch the Junkanoo Parade for Winston “Gus” Cooper streaming LIVE on ZNS TV 13 on Thursday, January 9th, 2014 at 10pm. Funeral Services for ‘Mr. Cooper will also air live on Saturday, January 11th, 2014. http://www.livestream.com/znsbahamas
Courtesy of The Tribune Newspaper
IF there’s ever a Bahamian befitting the image of an icon, it’s ‘King’ Eric Gibson, who was remembered for his dedicated service to the music industry and his commitment to growth and development in the sporting world of golf and sloop sailing. In his passing on Saturday at Doctors Hospital, the legendary Gibson was considered as a man for all seasons, a towering strength and a source of inspiration.
The 79-year-old was a dialysis patient who had prostate cancer and he suffered from arthritis, but according to one of his 10 children, Shane Gibson, the Member of Parliament for Golden Gates and the Minister of National Insurance and Labour, his father never let his problems interfere with his commitment to the projects he was involved in.
“I was just talking to some of the people from the sailing community from the golfing community and even the music community,” Gibson said. “His whole life was about giving. I believe it may have stemmed from his childhood days in Acklins. His life was about helping people.”
Gibson, who himself followed in his father’s footsteps, became one of the country’s top golf players. He said he owes his accomplishments on the sports field and in the political arena to his father.
“I have all kinds of memories about him. He taught me everything. He taught me golf. He taught me how to be a musician. He taught me how to be a leader. Every time I did anything in politics, he used to critique me. He taught me everything in politics that I know,” he said.
While music was the fruit of his love, golf and regatta was his pastime passion.
“He did all of these things when he was alive. He just did his last regatta and like everyone, he always says it took a toll on him and it was going to be his last one,” Gibson said. “Every year, he said this year was going to be his last one, but he never let anything interfere with his commitment, his passion and all that he believed in. He was just so much to everybody.”
Gibson said it was a big blow to their family, which included his father’s wife, Brigitte, and his nine siblings – Angela, Yvonne, Sharon, Ricky, Shane, Michael, Ann, Sherwin, Dereck and Jermaine. Gibson said they had just lost their mother, Gerlene, in March.
Although most musicians have testified how Gibson has helped their careers at his recording studio on Baillou Hill Road – the first in the Bahamas – or through their performances at the King and Knights Night Club, a number of persons whom he worked with in the sporting arena expressed their gratitude for the role he played in golf and sailing.
“We have lost one of the greatest, if not the greatest contributor to regatta development in our country,” said Rev Dr Philip McPhee, his long-time friend. “He’s been one who has brought new ideas, new inventions to sloop sailing. His gift on making sails and initiatives are incomparable to anyone else who has gone on or who is still alive.
“He is certainly a person who cannot be measured by his aloneness. He has given more to sailing than anybody else in our country. He is one who has raised as much or more than anybody else and he has spent more than anybody else, beside Sir Durward. He has given more to sailing than anyone else. He will be greatly missed.”
Over the years, McPhee said he and Gibson may have not seen eye to eye on a number of issues, but there was no way that they could not remain committed to each other. They recently forged a commitment that had them working together for the betterment of the sport, staging their last regatta in November with the Silver Cay A Class Regatta in Montagu Bay.
“He had a sternness in him. He stood by what he believed. He’s been blessed to have so much knowledge without all of the opportunities that so much of the younger generation has received,” McPhee said. “We always joked about it that if he had gone to college, he would have been prime minister of the country.
“But he had mother’s wit. He had a tremendous love for people. He gave of himself. He loved young people. He has given so much in terms of what he has done. We will certainly miss him tremendously. He has given and taught me and the sailing community so much. We miss him already.”
During their worship service on Sunday morning at the Mount Calvary Baptist Cathedral on Baillou Hill Road, McPhee said they paid tribute to Gibson. He said they intend to pay tribute to him again during their Watch Night Service on Tuesday night.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr Daniel Johnson, who was in Miami, Florida, for the Dolphins’ football game against the New York Jets at the Sun Life Stadium on Sunday, said the Bahamas Government will have to find a way to moralise the life of Gibson.
“In every generation someone emerges so I think the King would want us to find the next King Eric Gibson and so we have to set about honouring his life and his vision, making sure people own night clubs again, making sure people get downtown into the entertainment business,” Johnson said.
Danny Strachan, the chairman and commodore of the National Family Island Regatta committee, said they will always remember the icon who excelled in so many areas.
“While we are all saddened by his passing, I am proud of the fact that I had the opportunity to know and work with him on improving our national sport – sloop sailing,” he said. “As a result of his contributions, he has left the sport of sloop sailing much better than he found it.
“I am also happy that we had the opportunity to honour him for his contributions to the sport of sloop sailing at the 58th National Family Island Regatta in George Town, Exuma. The sport will not be the same without him. He will be greatly missed. While we all mourn his passing, we are comforted to know that he had lived a productive life and a life of service to his fellowmen and his country.”
Gibson, even though he struggled to clinch a top spot in the various regattas throughout the country, was the owner of the A Class Palm Cay Princess, the B Class Queen Drucilla and the C Class Queen Brigitte.
Click on the link below to watch Funeral Services for ‘King’ Eric Gibson on Friday, January 10th, 2014 streaming LIVE on ZNS TV 13: http://www.livestream.com/znsbahamas
By BRENT STUBBS
Tribune Senior Sports Reporter