100-year-old's connection to major Gore building projects
At almost 101 years of age, Fred Cooper has seen a lot of changes around his home town of Gore.
The building company he founded in 1948 – Jones & Cooper – has been involved in many of those changes, including building the original James Cumming Wing and its current transformation.
His son Peter, who took over the business some time ago, is at the helm for the rebuild – following in his father’s footsteps to create a community asset for generations to come.
Peter takes pride in giving buildings built by his father a new lease on life.
“If you stick around long enough, you start pulling down things you’ve built,” he quipped.
Peter would often go with his father to the building site and could be found playing on the scaffolding on more occasions than he cares to admit.
Peter recalls the opening of the Wing in March 1974 by then Prime Minister Norman Kirk.
“I probably shouldn’t have been here but managed to sneak up the stairs.”
Fred has occasionally visited the current rebuild – “I’d just get in the road” – but has followed its progress closely.
He believes James Cumming’s legacy continues to be honoured, just in a different way.
“It’s not just a big hall anymore, it’s got life.”
Fred reckons he is pretty lucky Peter followed in his footsteps. You can't miss the pride in his voice when he talks about the rebuild and the Cooper family involvement.
“It’s hard to describe. I suppose I get to live my life again through Peter.”
Signal Management Group construction manager Nick Jones said the rebuild had been a satisfying project to be involved with, both professionally and personally.
“As a local, the old James Cumming Wing was the venue for many memorable events. I look forward to my family making memories in the new library and community centre.”
The new building is schedule to be handed over the Council early in the new year, he said.