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Obituaries: Cooper; VanderVoort

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George Lee Cooper

George Lee Cooper: 1964 – 2024

Funeral service for George Cooper will be held at 1:00 p.m., Friday, July 12, 2024 at Gillette Memorial Chapel; interment to follow at Mt. Pisgah Cemetery. Visitation will take place on Thursday, July 11, 2024 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., at Gillette Memorial Chapel.

George Lee Cooper (Hoopney Woohass, Spotted Wolf) age 60, departed this world on July 1, 2024, to continue his journey in heaven with Jesus. George passed away at his home due to heart failure.

George was born to Bob and Josaephine (Spotted Wolf) Cooperon May 23, 1964 in Gillette, Wyoming. He grew up in Gillette along with his brothers, Bobby, Donald and Mike, and sisters, Donna, Barb, Shawna and Mary Ann. He graduated from Campbell County High School in 1983. He pursued a 40-year career as a meatcutter; thanks to a friend and teacher, Chris Di Michelle. He worked for Boyd’s IGA, Decker’s Food Center, Buttery’s Food and Drug and Smith’s. George also worked for Record NAPA Supply.

George was known for his wittiness, love for a joke, twisted sense of humor, collecting old ’30s and ’40s cars. His favorite was the Nash. He could be seen enjoying a car show or just cruzin’. He also enjoyed hunting and antler collecting. He loved hunting with his sons, Jake and Jason, uncles, cousins and friends. His favorite place to hunt was on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in Montana. He was a proud descendent of the Northern Cheyenne war chief, Chief Spotted Wolf, whom fought in the Rosebud Battle and the Battle of Little Big Horn. George was given his great-grandfather’s Indian name “Spotted Wolf.”

While he was in high school, he met Lori Erickson. On May 27, 1984, they were united in marriage, (He said he would marry her again). Two sons were born to his union: Jake in 1985 and Jason in 1988. George leaves behind wife of 40 years, Lori; children: Mary Gagas, Jake Cooper, Jason (Shelby) Cooper; five grandchildren: Rhiannon Gagas, Kiera and Eva Cooper and Sydney and Jack Cooper; sisters: Donna (Mike) Hurff, Barb (Craig) Weber, Shawna (Ken) Cooper; brothers, Mike (Gayl) Cooper, Donald (Marlene) Cooper; many nieces, nephews, cousins and his beloved corgis, Ruby and Jewels; along with extended families: Bement, Baumberger, Flying, Spang, Baker, Pilcher, Hurff, Weber, Small, Spotted Wolf, Cooper, Erickson, and Olson. He is preceded in death by his parents; grandparents; brothers, Bobby and Patrick; and sister, Mary Ann. 

Inga Josephine “Jo” VanderVoort: 1940 – 2024

Jo, age 84, of Gillette, Wyoming passed away on June 21, 2024 with her children by her side.

Jo was born on April 18, 1940 and was raised in Big Timber, Montana and surrounding areas. Her favorite thing to do growing up was to visit her dad’s sheep camps in the Crazy Mountains, “Crazies,” in Montana when he was herding sheep in the summer months. At the age of 13, Jo started working as a cook’s helper and babysitting for a few of the area ranches. In her later teen years she spent time waitressing at the Grand Hotel in Big Timber, Montana.

In 1958, she married her late husband of 65 years, David VanderVoort. With Dave by her side, they welcomed two children, Claudette in 1961 and Keith in 1963. Jo was incredibly proud of her job as a wife and homemaker. In 1975, Dave and Jo were able to purchase their home northeast of Gillette where they would reside for the rest of their years. Jo loved being a sheep rancher and this land and home that they purchased made it possible for her to do so for many years. Jo enjoyed showing her children and grandchildren all about the sheep ranching life.

Jo was also known for her impeccable gardening skills, from flowers to vegetables. Her array of irises should have been renowned. Her smaller bed of tulips were a magical array of colors. Jo’s vegetable garden was a source of great nutrition as her grandchildren were known to harvest and eat anything that was ripe. Very few cherry tomatoes or pear tomatoes made it into the house if her granddaughter, Haley, was around.  She had several flower plots and a large vegetable garden that she tended for many years with the help of her daughter and her grandchildren.

She could garden, knit, sew, quilt, tend to animals, and was a wonderful guide and support to her grandchildren. In her younger years you could find her fostering her grandchildren’s love of being outside with a makeshift kitchen to cook all the mud pies they could tolerate, teaching gardening skills and pruning skills. When inside, she had her grandchildren cross stitching towels and pillowcases with any design the kids chose. When the holidays rolled around, Jo was known for her wonderful baking skills as she would supply all the family and neighbors with tins filled to the brim with holiday cookies and treats, a lot of the time with the assistance of her grandchildren. It just wasn’t Christmas without a tin of goodies sitting around and a fruitcake sitting on her son Keith’s kitchen counter.

Jo is survived by her children: Keith (Ann) VanderVoort and Claudette VanderVoort; grandchildren: Kelly (Jason) Heinz, Haley (Austin) Idler, Cole (Makenzie) VanderVoort, and Rachael VanderVoort; great-grandchildren: Haydn Heinz, Oaklee and Emmett Idler, and Everley and Presley VanderVoort; and siblings Alice Remley, Peter (Tina) Undem, Toby (Kally) Undem.

She is preceded in death by her late husband, Dave VanderVoort; her parents, Alma C. Undem and Ivar P. Undem; her brothers, Edward, Alvin, and Sig Undem.

The family will be planning a small family service at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please go out and support your local farmers markets and stop to appreciate any beautiful gardens you see. There was nothing that Jo appreciated more than a beautiful Iris blooming.