FRANCES RICHMOND COOPER1920 - 2009
Of Mercedes, began her career in December 1954 as the secretary to the manager of Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show (RGVLS). In 1959, she became manager of the Show and remained in that position until she retired in 1986. Frances was a key factor in the rise of the RGVLS, becoming one of 10 largest livestock shows in Texas. She received many awards and recognitions from local, state, and national organizations for her work in connection with the Fair and livestock show industries. Some of her most prized awards include: 4-H Club Leader, the International Association of Fairs & Expositions Heritage Award, and the Texas Association of Fairs & Events Lifetime Achievement Award.
Frances Cooper was born in Jamesport, Missouri on July 20, 1920 to Forest Garvey and Libbie Hess Richmond. As a small child the family moved to a farm north of Mercedes, Texas. She graduated from Mercedes High School in 1937.
During World War II, she lived in Alexandria, Virginia for five years, where she managed a large apartment complex and worked for the Ration Board. After the war, she lived in Vancouver, Washington for one year. She returned to the Rio Grande Valley, where she spent the remaining years of her life living in Mercedes, La Feria, and Santa Rosa.
Frances went to work for the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show in December of 1954 as secretary to the manager, and in 1954, became the first show manager. She remained in that position until she retired in 1986.
Frances was a key factor in the rise of the RGVLS Show to its position of being one of 10 largest livestock shows in Texas. She was the heart and soul of the RGVLS. She was loved and respected by everyone that knew her, not only in the Rio Grande Valley, but throughout the state of Texas.
Upon retirement as manager, she was elected to the RGVLS Board of Directors, where she served until the time of her death. Frances received many awards and recognitions from local, state and national organizations for her work in connection with fair and livestock industries. Her most prized awards were those given by the Texas Future Farmers of America, and those received in recognition of her service as 4-H Club Leader.
In 2004, the International Association of Fairs and Expositions at their annual convention in Las Vegas presented her with the prestigious Heritage Award for her efforts as a volunteer, promoting not only the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show, but also fairs and livestock shows across the United States. The Texas Association of Fairs and Events, where she served 13 years as executive secretary, awarded her with its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002.
RGVLS President Emeritus D. V. Guerra once said, “Frances’s love of children and passion for her work were her defining attributes. She was a fantastic woman and a jack of all trades. She loved youth and she loved agriculture. She did so much for our youth of the Rio Grande Valley. She was an icon here in the Valley and will truly be missed not only by the RGVLS but by her family, her friends and the people that knew her throughout her life.”
Frances Richmond Cooper passed away on October 4, 2009.