A Cord of Three Strands:

Barry & Laura Cooper

February 2023 | Written by Maribeth Griessel

     The Book of Ecclesiastes stresses that “a cord of three strands is not easily broken,” and the series of articles in The Porch by that name demonstrates how this applies to the bond between two people becoming even stronger with God at the center of the relationship. In February of 2013 Gashland’s new pastor (of less than a year), Ritchey Cable, performed a wedding of a man and woman, and they state they “had a blast working with him!” 

      Groom, Barry Cooper, a lifelong KC area resident and graduate of Oak Park High School,  attended Gashland Baptist Church, where for 12 years he served as youth pastor, chairman of deacons, Sunday School director and treasurer. His bride, Laura Anderson Cooper, also is a born and bred Kansas City girl, and too is an Oak Park Northmen alum. Her family started attending Gashland Presbyterian in 1992, where she remained until moving to Pleasant Valley Baptist as a young adult.  Thus the stage was set when Barry joined the leadership team at PVB and met a young woman who was a leader for the 30’s and 40’s singles group.  

     But before we marry them off, a bit of background on each. Laura’s parents are long-time GEPC members Larry and Jeannie Anderson. Larry worked for TWA and American Airlines, in accounting, insurance and risk management. Jeannie was a teacher until becoming a stay-at-home mom, then later returned to work leading the Parents as Teachers program for the NKC School district. The family also includes Laura’s brother, Erik, who now lives in Houston, TX, with his wife and two children, and works for Conoco Phillips.

     Barry (why doesn’t his name begin with a “K”?) grew up with three siblings; sister Kendra lives and works in the Metro area as a legal assistant; brother Keith, also a KC resident, just retired after a lifelong work history with MHC trucking; and Kevin lives in Boulder, CO, a US Army retiree who enjoys running, mountain climbing and other physical outdoor activities. (See, three “Ks”?) Their parents, Phyllis and Kenneth Cooper are both deceased. Dad, Kenneth, a Korean War veteran, was Postmaster General at the Gladstone post office for 35 years, while Phyllis was a homemaker who fostered a love of words, puzzles and games in her children.

      Formerly serving in the US Marine Corps, Barry has quite the educational background, having attended Junior College at Maple Woods, the University of Southern California, UMKC and Calvary Bible College and Seminary. He has earned an Associate’s of Art degree in Information Systems, a BA in History and Education as well as three Master’s degrees in Divinity, Education and Organizational Behaviors. “The favorite course I’ve ever taken was Romans at Calvary Bible College and Seminary. It literally changed my life!” Barry exclaimed.

      Mrs. Cooper graduated from Missouri State University with a degree in Marketing. While at Oak Park HS she loved being on the speech and debate squad, as well as her Human Anatomy studies. At MO State she particularly enjoyed an elective class, Religion 101. Laura has also actively pursued both singing and dancing (tap, jazz and ballet), and has performed in Theater In the Park productions of “Annie,” “Grease,” and “West Side Story.”

    With a varied work history, Laura explained, “I started my career in Advertising working for Valentine Radford and then VML here in KC. From there I moved to Sprint where I managed their direct marketing activities, then on to Cerner, starting out in marketing, but advancing into Critical Care and the Emergency Business Unit, where I worked with clients and had a sales role which I loved.” But when Barry’s son, Wyatt, moved in with them Laura opted to quit working to stay home with him, and she added, “Being a stepparent to a teenager isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.”

      In addition to Wyatt (who, along with his wife, Rosie, formerly attended Gashland), Barry is also father to Shawn, his oldest son.  Shawn’s wife, Samantha, and daughter, Serena, attend here at GEPC.  And Barry has two daughters, Alysia, living in KC with her two children, as well his youngest child, Krista.

       “In high school I worked in the hospitality industry,” reported Barry, “and once was the bellhop for Johnny and June Cash.” The Cashes were staying at the Holiday Inn near Worlds of Fun for a week while they performed at the park. Moving their huge amount of luggage and equipment was a difficult job, rewarded with a paltry $5 tip from Johnny (though his staff later provided more equitqable payment!) That, in addition to cleaning bricks at age 14, were among his most difficult jobs, but he stresses that “being a father and grandfather are definitely both my most difficult and most enjoyable jobs! And the majority of my career has been in cybersecurity education, innovation, marketing and sales at cybersecurity startups FishNet Security, Optiv, and FishTech Group, as Chief Marketing Officer.” Barry also served as Chief Innovation Officer at First Federal Bank of KC and currently works as Chief Sales and Innovation Officer at Centriq Training. And would you believe he has run over 30 marathons and works with Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence? Ask him about it.

      Laura ultimately returned to the workforce as National Sales Director for SETWorks, a company that builds software for agencies that work with physically and mentally challenged individuals,resigning in 2021, and working in volunteer roles since then.

      Both Barry and Laura currently teach Sunday School classes at Gashland. Laura, a Deacon serving on the Discipleship, the Outreach and the Mercy Teams, teaches the Women’s class, which is currently studying the book of Genesis. Barry, who has just completed a term as deacon on the Property Team, is one of the teachers of an adult class meeting in Fellowship Hall, delving into New Testament letters of Paul, and “I am excited for new opportunities to serve. I consider God’s words in Joshua 24:15 as my life’s ‘mission statement’. It’s easy to be distracted in this world and lose focus and this verse grounds me every day. Equally impactful and inspirational to me are the passages in Romans 8:26-39, Psalm 1, 23, and 77.”  Laura adds, “I love Proverbs 3:5-6. I just think that is so true and full of wisdom. I also love the book of Esther, how courageous she was and how God did place her in that role for that specific time and purpose.”

      The Coopers have been blessed to travel widely throughout the world, with favorite places including Hawaii, Italy and Alaska, but topping the list is Israel, where they became engaged.

      Now for a final PSA (Public Service Announcement) Mrs. Cooper will again be organizing and directing Breakaway Field Days this summer, June 3rd through 7th.  As both Laura and Barry live an active life of volunteering at Gashland, hopefully many of you readers will be encouraged to commit to helping out with this one week ministry this summer!