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Bernice Cooper

Public Viewing

Friday, April 9, 2021 - 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Funeral Service

Saturday, April 10, 2021 | Wake 10:00 a.m. | Service 11:00 a.m.

Howell Funeral Home Chapel - 10220 Guilford Road - Jessup, MD 2-794

Livestreaming Link for Service

Saturday, April 10, 2021 @ 11am

Celebration of Life for Bernice Cooper

The sun rose in the life of Bernice Gooch Cooper on December 10, 1943 in Memphis, TN. Bernice was the daughter of the late Wille B. Gooch and Ardena Barksdale Gooch.  She was the eighth of nine children. Bernice was educated in Memphis City Schools and was a 1961 graduate of Mitchell High School in Memphis, TN. In 1962, she enrolled in Tuskegee Institute and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in May, 1966. Bernice was recognized as a Campus Sweetheart and crowned Miss ROTC and Miss YM-YWCA for the 1965-1966 school term. While at Tuskegee, she met and fell in love with the late Robert “Bob” Cooper. The college sweethearts were married in July 1966.


Bernice was an educator who began her teaching career in Tuscaloosa, AL. In 1968, the couple moved to Maryland. After settling in Maryland, Bernice continued her teaching career in the Anne Arundel County Public School System where she taught English and Home Economics at Meade Senior High School, Fort Meade, MD. While teaching, Bernice earned a Master’s Degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1979. She retired from teaching in 1993.

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Bernice had an undying passion for sewing and fashion. She was a masterful seamstress. Following her passion, Bernice started a sewing business, aptly named Bernice’s Style Shop. In her shop, she created beautifully custom-designed prom dresses, wedding gowns and other formalwear, as well as provided a wide range of alterations. Through her business, Bernice met and befriended so many amazing people. She cultivated great relationships with people that extended far beyond the fitting room walls. Her custom sewing and alterations business attracted such high-profile clients as Baltimore News Anchor, Oprah Winfrey; budding singing talent, Toni Braxton; New York Times Best-Selling Author, Iyanla Vanzant and others. But her highest profile clients were the everyday Columbia citizens, her friends, and church members that strolled through regularly. Bernice’s Style Shop was a staple in Columbia for nearly 50 years.


Bernice wholeheartedly loved the Lord and lived her life accordingly. She was a faithful and devoted member of First Baptist Church of Gulliford for nearly 50 years. While serving at First Baptist Church of Guilford, Bernice chaired many ministries and committees including the Scholarship Ministry, Wedding Ministry, Distinguished Daughters of Praise Dance Ministry and the Seasoned Saints. She also held sewing classes for church members. In 2019, she was appointed Chair of the Planning Committee for the First Baptist Church of Guilford Grand Opening Gala.


Bernice loved her children with every fiber of her being. She was also passionate about sewing, traveling, bowling, pinochle and helping others. Through her travels, she visited four of seven continents.


Bernice’s life was rich in so many ways.  With God as her guidepost, Bernice lived a life of service, joy, generosity and love for her family and friends.  Her loving spirit, engaging personality, classy style, warm heart, infectious smile and unyielding grace will live eternally in the hearts of all who came to know her.


Other than her parents, Bernice was preceded in death by her siblings Willie B Gooch, Jr., Clyde Landon Gooch, Evelyn Louise “Lou” Monger, Howard “Bip” Gooch, Earnest Gooch, Florene Landon, and Burke Gooch. Bernice leaves to cherish her memory: a son, Reginald Edward Cooper (Atlanta, GA); a daughter, Yolanda Ledene Cooper (Washington, DC); a sister, Clara Matthews (Detroit, MD); a sister-in-law/sister, Maxine Cooper Lee (Columbus, GA); a host of nieces and nephews; treasured extended family members including best friend and “sisters,” Juanita Davenport (Baltimore, MD) and Gloria Jones (Baltimore, MD); “other daughters,” Cheryl Dammons and Tiffany Nias and Angela Dance (Baltimore, MD); and her beloved “Posse” – Thelma Holliday (Columbia, MD), Gertrude “Peaches” Kerr (Columbia, MD) and Sylvia Ingram (Columbia, MD);  and many, many more.

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