Louis ‘Jerrel’ Cooper, chief of maintenance at Vicksburg National Military Park, will retire on December 28th after 37 years with the National Park Service.
A life-long resident of Vicksburg, Jerrel spent his entire park service career working at the park, starting as a seasonal laborer/tractor operator in 1975, becoming a permanent staff member in 1978, and moving up through the ranks to chief of maintenance in 1992.
During his tenure with the NPS, Jerrel has been involved in many ground-breaking (no pun intended) park projects, working tirelessly to help preserve and protect the resources and facilities of Vicksburg National Military Park. Job highlights include the loading onto barges and moving of the USS Cairo gunboat from Pascagoula to Vicksburg in 1977, assisting in the vessel’s preparation for exhibit and construction of the USS Cairo Museum in the early 1980s, and the replacement of the Cairo canopy in 2002-2003; involvement with the construction and placement of several monuments through the 1990s and 2000s to include Tennessee, Kentucky, Kentucky Confederate, Mississippi African-American Monument, and Connecticut State Monuments; overseeing the reconstruction of the Louisiana State Monument in 2003 and the movement of the Georgia Monument in 2011; the recent restoration and rehabilitation of the historic Pemberton’s Headquarters in downtown Vicksburg (2005-2008) and Shirley House in the park (2011); and serving as the COTR on several battlefield restoration projects, most recently in 2011-2012, helping to provide an enhanced visual interpretive experience for the park’s many visitors.
Well-known for his expertise in the many facets of facility management, Jerrel has often been the go-to person for projects not only at Vicksburg National Military Park, but also other parks, and has served on several regional committees.
Jerrel will continue to reside in Vicksburg with his wife, Valerie, where he will be able to devote more time to his favorite pastime of music and leading ‘Magnolias and Moonshine,’ the band he formed in 1997 which performs regularly throughout Mississippi and Louisiana, and riding his motorcycle with his buddies.
Vicksburg National Military Park is planning a retirement open house/gathering for Jerrel on February 2nd from 2:00 pm-5:00pm, at his favorite Mexican restaurant, Sol Azteca, in Vicksburg. Anyone wishing to send well wishes, etc. please contact Chief of Operations Rick Martin at email@example.com.