BAR HARBOR — “I’ve always had two main guidelines,” the late Bob Cooper wrote in a retirement speech. “Don’t ever cheat a customer and don’t ever cheat a crew member. If you play by the rules and play as hard as you can, things will work out.”
Cooper died last July following a heart attack and was never able to give the speech. He had owned and operated Cooper Gardens greenhouse and landscape business with his wife, Alice, for more than 36 years. Following his death, Alice Cooper and the company’s small staff carried on, fulfilling the company’s contracts for the 2017 season. But it was the last season. Alice Cooper is now closing up shop.
“I pretty quickly discovered that I’m not a businesswoman,” she said. “I had never written out a paycheck for anybody before.”
Even before her husband’s death, the couple had thought they might retire after the 2017 season.
The company’s four full-time employees all plan to continue working in lawn care.
“I have been very fortunate to have had many talented, honest, and hardworking people work for me over the years,” Bob Cooper wrote. Tim Tripp and Bill McFarland both worked for Cooper Gardens for more than 30 years. “They, along with ‘newcomers’ Branden Hooper and David Graham, provided a good solid core crew these last several years,” Cooper wrote. The team, he said was “a definite blessing!”
“What a privilege it has been to live and work on this island for so many years,” he wrote. “I have been blessed to work for so many wonderful, loyal customers and friends.”
Longtime customers included the town of Bar Harbor for lawn care on public spaces, including the Village Green and Agamont Park, and Mount Desert Island Hospital. Cooper’s father, Dr. Llewellyn W. Cooper, was one of the founders of the Cooper Gilmore Health Center.
“Two of my biggest honors have been being allowed and trusted to take care of my town’s grounds and my Dad’s hospital,” he wrote.
Cooper Gardens worked with Bob’s Auto Repair down the street to maintain their vehicles, and also with Haynes’ Garage in Northeast Harbor, Greenway Equipment and Ellsworth Chainsaw.
Members of First Light Assembly of God church in Town Hill, Bob and Alice Cooper believed that prayer was the “main key to our survival.”