April 1926 – June 2018

Emmett Kenneth Cooper was born in Olig, Kern County, California, on April 11, 1926, to Margaret and John Cooper. With his two sisters, Audrey and Frances, and two brothers, Jack and Stan, he enjoyed a rural childhood. Summertime activities were swimming in a canal, hunting for doodle-bugs, working in the garden and on the family car. He enjoyed evenings listening to the radio, excursions to Bakersfield, making home-made kites, and time with his step-grandfather in his blacksmith shop.

His family lived in Olig and Fruitvale, and a 160-acre homestead and later on a ranch west of McKittrick. The children would play in the tall grain fields making tunnels for hide and seek, and explore the area on horseback. They attended school at Olig, and along the way would search for native reptiles and animals.

Emmett graduated from Taft Union High School in 1945. His favorite class was woodshop where he excelled in building furniture. He was hired by General Petroleum in 1946 and worked his way from a roustabout to management through successive companies. He retired in 2017 after an extraordinary 71 years in the oil industry completing his career as a pipeline safety engineer with the Office of the State Fire Marshal in Lakewood.

In 1953, he received his degrees of Freemasonry at Temblor Lodge No. 477 in Fellows, California, and remained a member in good standing for 65 years in the consolidated Taft-Midway Masonic Lodge No. 426.

Emmett and his wife Thelma were married for 42 years and were longtime residents of Los Alamitos. They were involved with the Long Beach Theater Playhouse, the Long Beach Petroleum Club, and the Signal Hill Oil and Natural Gas History Museum. He enjoyed photography, gardening, golf, vacation travels with Thelma, and their June Lake cabin.

Emmett passed away on June 6, 2018, and will be interred next to his wife Thelma. Graveside service will be held at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Long Beach, on Wednesday, June 13, at 2:00pm. Donations can be made in his name to the West Kern Oil Museum, Taft, California.


Emmett was preceded in death by his sister Audrey, brother Jack, his wife Thelma, and step-daughter Diana. His surviving family are his son Kenneth and his wife Molly, his sister Frances and brother Stanley, and his step-daughters Debby Lynge (Bill) and Sheri Snell (Wes).