Geraldton’s longest serving mayor. More than three decades in local government. Community stalwart. Family man. Whatever hat Phil Cooper wore, those close to him can attest to one thing — he left a lasting legacy in his impressive innings of 95. Mr Cooper died on Monday afternoon, sparking a flood of tributes from the community he invested so much in. He was Geraldton’s longest serving mayor — totalling 13 years in two stints between 1982-1988 and 1994-2001 — with his mayoral highlight undoubtedly acting as the late Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip’s tour guide during their visit to Geraldton in 1988 when the then-town achieved city status. A beloved member of the community, Mr Cooper remained part of the City of Greater Geraldton processes, including swearing in of mayors and councillors and attending events as a Freeman of the city — a title bestowed on him in 2001 — right up until his death this week. At the age of 15, Mr Cooper began working on a farm in Yuna, but soon turned his focus to building his own business, a trucking company. Throughout this, he found his passion in local government and leadership and was first elected as a councillor in 1963. In total, he spent 32 years in local government. Mr Cooper was the youngest of nine kids, and is survived by his wife Waltraut, two sons, Steve and Chris, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Mr Cooper’s son Steve is following in his father’s footsteps and was sworn in by him when he was elected to council in 2021. Cr Cooper was just five years old when his father joined local government. “He believed that what you got out of life was a result of what you put in. His outlook was pretty grounded and people respected him for it — work hard, support and enjoy family, give service to the community, look out for others in need,” he said. “He lived a full and prosperous life. He enjoyed very much making his own way in life and the paths it took.” Mr Cooper’s wife of 46 years, Waltraut, said: “He was a wonderful husband, a lovely father and a kind, honest man who did everything right. He meant everything to our family, and was very well-liked in Geraldton.” Mr Cooper enjoyed the outdoors and was a keen fisherman and golfer, his favourite place other than Geraldton was Lucky Bay, where he built a fishing shack that is still owned by the Cooper family. Mr Cooper was president of Brigades Football Club for four years between 1960 and 1964, and was the club’s longest serving life member, with the league best-and-fairest award named after the two-time premiership player. “There is a huge amount of respect in the club for not only Phil, but the entire Cooper family, and it’s a massive loss for the community,” Brigades president Dean Pascoe said. Mr Cooper was instrumental in some of the City’s biggest formative projects including the initial works to remove the old railway line to open up Foreshore Drive, the inception of the regional library and the building of the Aquarena. Current City Mayor Shane Van Styn paid tribute to Mr Cooper, who he said was “one of the most stand-out mayors in our history” who remained dedicated to the community right until the end. “Phil Cooper swore me in as a councillor twice and twice as mayor. Phil was someone everyone greatly respected with his dedication to serving our local government unmatched. He was a leader I admire,” he said. “He will be long remembered in our community for his kindness, humility and dedication that will certainly not be forgotten.” Cr Robert Hall said: “(Phil) was a lovely fellow, I have great respect for him as a leader, businessman and family man. He made an amazing contribution to the community. He was funny, the last time he swore me in he said ‘not you again’ ”. “Before I was in council, I was a police officer and was working when the Queen visited in 1988, watching the way Phil conducted himself, he was a true civic leader, and is something I have always admired.” Geraldton MLA Lara Dalton has a particularly personal appreciation for Mr Cooper, who in 1962 was looking for someone to coach the Brigades’ league team. “He rang Perth Football Club to see if anyone might be interested — and they suggested that (her father) Barry Dalton might be keen.” Ms Dalton added: “A sincere thank you Phil Cooper, Geraldton’s character has been so enriched by your hard work as a former mayor and councillor. You were a wonderful Leader and servant to the public, who showed genuine care for others, respect, and always had the best interest of his community at the heart of his role”. Mr Cooper was living at home in Mt Tarcoola when he had a fall and was flown to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth. He died from complications surrounded by family on Monday afternoon, a week-and-a-half after the accident. Mr Cooper’s funeral will be held on Thursday, July 20, at the Geraldton Crematorium Chapel at 12pm.