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The late Don Cooper, a former Saint John police officer and football coach, will have the trail network in Shamrock Park named after him. Image: Submitted

Former police officer, football coach commemorated

By Brad Perry Mar 5, 2024 | 1:20 PM

Don Cooper was seen as a community leader in the north end of Saint John for more than 40 years.

Now, nine years after his passing, the former police sergeant and football coach is being honoured.

Council voted Monday night to name the trail system in Shamrock Park as the “Don Cooper Trail”.

“Don Cooper made a lasting impression on the young people he served and their families,” said Coun. David Hickey.

“His influence went well beyond coaching and extended to life skills, personal development, respect, and integrity.”

Copper served as a member of the Saint John Police Force for more than 40 years until his retirement in 2011.

He was also a passionate community volunteer, best known for coaching the Central Saints PeeWee Football team for 43 years.

After his death in 2015, the youth sports community looked for a means to honour Cooper that would commemorate his impact.

The original ask was to place his name on the field or sports clock in Shamrock Park, but both were earmarked for future sponsorship.

After meeting to discuss the request in February, the Civic Commemoration Committee moved to recommend naming the park’s existing trail system after Cooper.

Coun. Barry Ogden was one of the many people who have wanted to honour Cooper. The two played hockey and football together and coached football against each other.

“He has the same PeeWee football team in the north end so that he ended up coaching grandparents, parents and children, so nobody could run away if they were in trouble from Don because he knew everybody in the street,” said Ogden.

“The police union, I’ve met with quite a few times on this, they’re fully behind it. The football community, the hockey community, everybody just loved Don.”

City staff will purchase and place a small sign at one end of the trail.