Interviewed by Brad Abernathy at Midland Station
Meet Melvin Cooper! Many of you know Melvin from his years of service as director of Gainesville Parks and Recreation. Melvin served in this role for 47 years and will retire from the position on May 31, 2019. He said, “there are so many interesting people and backgrounds here in Hall County; no one lives in as great a place as we do!”
“If you enjoy your job then everyday is a vacation and it seems like I have been on vacation for 47 years,” Melvin said. “I was successful because of the people I worked with and I will miss the people most of all and all the kids.”
Melvin is a longtime Gainesville resident, is married to Deborah and has two daughters, Anna Catherine and Mary Beth. Melvin and Deborah have a grandson named Cooper.
“On my first day with Park and Rec on June 1, 1972, I introduced myself to Jane Hulsey, she grabbed my hand and pulled me into the Pine Street pool and said welcome to Gainesville,” he said.
“For me, Melvin Cooper is one of the most important people to our community in our generation. He is a visionary. Our city is beautiful and a lot of that is because of this man. For those that follow him, he left big shoes to fill, but he also left wide paths and trails through this town where they can walk. Thank you, Melvin.” – Brad Abernathy
We want to thank Melvin for recently spending time with us and telling us more about his life and love of Hall County.
Question: What inspired you or led you to your current career?
Answer: “From the age of 12 I wanted to be in Recreation”
Q: What is your favorite restaurant in Hall County, and what do you love there?
A: “Poor Richards, I’ve been going there for 40 years, I get the sauteed grouper without the bread.”
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
A: “St. Mary’s where my grandson lives.”
Q: What current/former local business makes you the most nostalgic about Hall County?
A: “Currently would be the Inn Between and formerly Frierson McEver (or Frierson’s); Charlie Frierson and Art Kunzer were all about customer service.”
Q: Choosing anyone alive or passed and a non-relative; with whom would you love to have lunch with and why?
A: “The Rev. Billy Graham because he was such an inspiration to humanity and Christianity for so long. We would go to 2 Dog.”
Q: What is your favorite thing about Hall County?
A: “The people are unique, this is a giving community, openhearted, if there is a need and the word gets out it is taken care of.”
Q: What is your favorite movie?
A: “‘Pretty Woman’ with Julia Roberts and my favorite movie ever is ‘Old Yeller,’ that movie still makes me cry.”
Q: What is your favorite music/three bands you would like to see perform?
A: “Carolina Beach music, Oldies, and Music from the 60s.”
Q: What advice would you give a crowd of people?
A: “Live by the Golden Rule. Have tact, be patient, this too will pass. Get the job done but treat people with respect.”
Q: Who is the most interesting person you’ve met in Hall County and why?
A: “Although there are many, I would say Jack Bailey, the architect, because he had such an influence on the landscape of Gainesville and Hall County.”
Q: Even for friends and family, what is something interesting about you that most people don’t know?
A. “I officiated high school football, basketball and baseball with the Georgia High School Association.”
Q: If you were cast into a major motion picture and had your choice of anyone to be your co-star, who would you choose?
A: “Julia Roberts or Harrison Ford.”
Q: If you had a full time staff member that was fully paid for, who would you choose? Chef, housekeeper, driver, coach, physical fitness trainer or nanny?
Q: What three words mean HOME to you?
A: “Loving, caring, passionate.”
The Faces of Hall County is a project to showcase the amazing people that live or work in our community. If you would like to nominate an interesting person to be featured please email firstname.lastname@example.org.