Chapel Hill, NC - Richard (Dick) Howell Coop passed away December 29, 2021 after a courageous battle with Parkinson's Disease. He was 81. Born in 1939 in Campbellsville, KY, Dick graduated from Western Kentucky University with a degree in Biology and Psychology. Later, in 1968 he received his Ed.D. in Educational Psychology from Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. He was a Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for 30 years before retiring in 1999.
Dick was an author, teacher, speaker and founder in the brand-new field of sports psychology. After publishing his first book with Gary Wiren titled "The New Golf Mind" in 1978, he went on to author numerous articles and books on the mental side of golf. Dick learned the game of golf in graduate school, but was a life-long student of the psychology of human performance. Starting at a young age watching his father coach basketball, football and baseball in Campbellsville, Dick learned how athletes respond to pressure situations. Overcoming polio as a child, Dick became an athlete himself, and learned from his own reactions to tense game situations. As his knowledge of golf and the approach to the mental side of golf grew, he soon found himself working with U.S. Open, PGA, and Masters winners, as well as top athletes in many other sports. As a leader in sports psychology, Dick also worked with athletes at every level, including NASCAR drivers, players in the NFL, NBA and MLB, but most especially players on the UNC-CH basketball, football, and golf teams.
Known as "Dr. C" by all his athletes, Dick was respected for his knowledge, and loved for his ability to take complex ideas and present them in ways that changed the lives of the people he worked with. Dick was smart, with a quick and sharp sense of humor that quickly put athletes at ease, and let them know he was on their side. Dick was a husband, a father, a friend, a polio survivor, a man of faith, and a fierce advocate for helping others achieve their potential. He was preceded in death by his parents Sara and Paul Coop. He leaves behind wife Sharon, daughter Kristi Gordon and spouse Andrew, daughter Kelli Dunn and spouse Steve, son Daniel, sister Anne Murray, granddaughters Maggie and Lucy Gordon, Clara Dunn and grandson Cooper Dunn, and nieces Lee Anne Murray and Susan Murray Temple.
A memorial service will be held on February 19 at 11:00AM at University United Methodist Church in Chapel Hill. There will be at that time a live stream UTube video for those who prefer not to attend in person.
In lieu of flowers, please send contributions to the Richard "Dick" Coop Endowed Faculty Scholar in Education Fund. Checks should be mailed to The School of Education, Office of External Relations, Suite 1010, Peabody Hall, Campus Box 3500, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3500. An alternate suggestion is the University United Methodist Church in Chapel Hill where Dick attended for 50 years.