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Photograph of Katharine Cooper sitting in a chair with a paisley pattern.

Katharine Cooper

Katharine Cooper was a wife, mother, teacher and trailblazer. She was licensed as the first Black person to open and operate a nursery school in Kansas City, Missouri. She also taught high school, elementary school and Sunday school.

Katharine’s daughter, Donna Tyler, said, “Whenever visiting my house, mom would say, ‘I have to be back by Sunday, because I’m not going to miss teaching Sunday school!’ She knew the value of laying a foundation for students to work hard and pursue higher levels of education. She had a vested commitment in others’ lives.”

When Katharine passed away, her legacy of giving continued when she became a tissue donor. Although two of Katharine’s children have died, Donna and her brothers were comforted by their mother’s decision to be a registered donor. This has inspired other family members to do the same.

“My mother was 98 years old,” Donna said. “She always said, ‘Lord, when it’s my time to die, please let me come running!’”

After a life of giving to others, breaking barriers and shaping young minds, Katharine’s gift of life-enhancing tissue was in line with the way she lived.

“She gave while living, and continued to give after her death. That was my mom,” Donna said.

Katharine Cooper’s Family

Pictured — left to right: Donna Tyler, Katharine’s daughter; Tony Tyler, Katharine’s son-in-law