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Heritage Day: Coopers’ commitment to each other and community leaves enduring legacy

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Editors Note: The Lehi Historical Society is proud to present the stories of its Lehi Heritage Day 2023 honorees. Each couple will be celebrated at Lehi Heritage Day on Sept. 4, beginning at 2:30 p.m., in a parade, a celebration with the mayor, city council and public, and at a meet and greet. The free, city-sponsored event celebrates those who have given tremendous service to Lehi as well as Lehis remarkable history. This years theme is, “The Roaring 1920s.” For more information on Lehi Heritage Day or the Classic Car and Bike Show, see lehihistory.com.

Gary Cooper and Carolyn Laney’s love story began in the early 1960s in the halls of Lehi Junior High School. They attended Lehi High School, where Carolyn was a cheerleader and Gary lettered in five sports—still a claim to fame in his family. They were married in the old Lehi Fifth Ward building at the northwest corner of 100 East and 100 North more than five decades ago.

Carolyn, daughter of George Cleon and Relva Mina Larsen Laney, was born in 1950 at the old Lehi Hospital. The receipt from her delivery and birth was a whopping $56.50. She was the third of five children and grew up in downtown Lehi, deeply connected to the community. Her early years were spent working at the movie theater owned by her father and grandfather George Laney and her father’s store, Laney’s, on Main Street. Relva worked as a telephone operator for Lehi City.

Carolyn adored helping with the Gift-O-Rama. She especially loved the holidays when her father’s store would play music for everyone on Main Street. At Lehi High School, besides being a cheerleader, Carolyn excelled in homemaking, winning numerous awards in sewing and the Miss Wool Utah Competition.

Carolyn served in the PTA, Lehi High School Booster Club and as a special needs school bus driver for Alpine School District. Her exceptional service extended to various callings in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As Relief Society president, she was always found her serving others and helping those in need. Her love for cooking was evident in the massive Sunday dinners she prepared for family and friends. Cooper Cookies became a cherished tradition.

Gary Alan Cooper, son of Gary L. and Bonnie Jean Vogt Cooper, was born in 1950 at Provo Hospital and spent his entire life as a Lehi resident. He grew up west of Vets Ball Park when there were very few homes past the park. Gary was the oldest of four siblings.

As a youth, Gary worked on various mink farms, broke horses and hauled hay. Weekends were spent at rodeos, where his father, a champion rodeo clown and rough stock ride, was a pillar of the Utah rodeo community. His mother Bonnie worked as a telephone operator for Lehi and at the DMV for the state of Utah.

At Lehi High School, Gary became renowned for earning varsity letters in football, basketball, baseball, tennis and track. While attending the University of Utah, he worked for Hadfield Wire. A third-generation steelworker, he spent 35 years at Geneva Steel. Even with his career, Gary never abandoned his love for ranching, amassing a horse ranch with as many as 75 horses at a time. His involvement as a rancher and land developer showcased his commitment to preserving Lehi’s open spaces and unique character.

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He played a role in developing Lehi’s third subdivision and in doing so ensured essential water supply for major developments like Costco and Lowe’s.

For more than five decades, Gary coached Lehi youth teams in basketball, baseball and football. He remains active today in coaching teams, including those with special needs and his grandchildren. Gary’s hobbies include hunting, riding horses and supporting LHS sports.

Gary and Carolyn’s love has endured for 53 years, during which they raised six children and became proud grandparents to 24 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. They count their children and grandchildren among their greatest accomplishments. The impact of Gary and Carolyn’s lives, and their acts of service is immeasurable, and their dedication to the Lehi community is an inspiration to all who know them.

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