It is with great sadness that I report the passing of a beloved member of the School community, professor and archaeologist Frederick A. Cooper, who died on Sunday, September 25.
Fred’s involvement with the ASCSA was a long and fruitful one, beginning with his year as a Regular Member in 1968-69 and extending through decades of service as a Managing Committee Member (from 1974 until his death) representing the University of Minnesota, where he was Morse Alumni Distinguished Professor of Art History. During that time span, he was also a Student Associate Member of the School (Strock Fellow) in 1969-70; a two-time Gertrude Smith Professor, directing Summer Sessions in 1978 and 2008; Andrew F. Mellon Professor of Classical Studies from 1982 to 1985; and NEH Fellow in 2001-02.
Born in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, on December 12, 1936, Fred graduated from Yale University with an A.B. in 1959 and received an M.A. from the University of Pittsburgh in 1962. In 1970 he earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, where the focus of his study was Greek and Roman art, modern art, and Early Italian art. Prior to embarking on his career as an educator, he was president of a civil engineering/surveying firm, a background that informed his subsequent archaeological pursuits. He taught briefly at the University of Pittsburgh, Temple University, and Northwestern University before joining the faculty of the University of Minnesota in 1971.
Recipient of numerous awards for excellence in teaching, including the University of Minnesota’s Distinguished Teacher Award in 1972-73 and 1989-90 and the AIA’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 1996, Fred Cooper also published and lectured widely. His study of the Temple of Apollo at Bassai, begun with the permission of the Greek Archaeological Service in 1969, was the subject of his Ph.D. dissertation and remained his lifelong passion. His four-volume series on The Temple of Apollo Bassitas, published by the School in 1992 and 1996, is recognized as the definitive publication on the temple’s architecture and sculpture.
In the early 1980s Fred worked on the reconstruction project of the Temple of Zeus at Nemea. His drawings for this project, exhibited at the Benaki Museum, appeared with commentary in the 1983 exhibition guide.
Throughout the 1990s, Fred headed the University of Minnesota’s program of archaeological research and exploration in the Peloponnese, MARWP (Minnesota Archaeological Researches in the Western Peloponnese), directing three field projects operating under the aegis of the ASCSA. At Pylos, his team applied modern survey capabilities to resume, after 20 years of architectural dormancy, excavation of the Bronze Age Palace of Nestor. The nearly decade-long project resulted in the recovery of thousands of ceramic and fresco fragments and a handful of Linear B tablet fragments, as well as the rediscovery and mapping of several chamber tombs and shaft graves. MAWRP’s Morea project, a survey of vernacular architecture dating from the Frankish period to the mid-twentieth century, conducted field seasons from 1991 to 2000; results of this work were published in 2002 in Houses of the Morea: Vernacular Architecture of the Northwest Peloponnesos. During the summers of 1991 and 1992, Fred oversaw MARWP’s efforts on the Heroon at Messene, a concentrated program of recovery, study and publication with the aim of eventual physical reconstruction. Fred’s work on these field projects delved into history that spanned three millennia, introduced undergraduate and graduate students to innovative and thought-provoking archaeological applications, and added immeasurably to the body of scholarly work on the region. In recent years Fred was working on a major book on Greek architecture, which his colleagues plan to bring to fruition. Always full of original ideas about Greek architecture and eager to talk about them, Fred will be sorely missed.
There will be no memorial or funeral service according to Fred’s wishes.
Donations may be made in his honor to the Lymphoma and Leukemia Foundation or Doctors Without Borders.