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David J. Cooper

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 2011.


David J. Cooper, Sr., was born August 21, 1945, in Mobile. He graduated as a member of the class of 1963 from University Military School and the class of 1967 from The University of Alabama School of Commerce and Business Administration, with a B.S. degree in general business.

After college, Cooper joined the family’s stevedoring company. Cooper/T. Smith, headquartered in Mobile, is one of America’s oldest and largest stevedoring and maritime-related firms. The company operates thirty-seven ports on the East, West, and Gulf Coasts of the United States, plus operations in South America. Cooper/T. Smith has also diversified its business interests to include thirty-one subsidiaries and affiliated companies. From 1983 to 2008, Cooper served as the company’s president. He is currently vice chairman of the Board of Directors, the position he has held since 2008.

Cooper also serves as director on a number of corporate boards, including Alabama Power Company; Regions Financial; Economic Development Partnership of Alabama; Alabama State Port Authority; International Transportation Services, Long Beach, California; Crescent Towing, Inc., New Orleans, Louisiana; and CSC Assurance, Hamilton, Bermuda. He is a current director of AAA (American Automobile Association), a former director of SouthTrust Bank (now Wells Fargo), and a former director of AmSouth Bank (now Regions Financial).

Cooper is also actively involved in many civic and educational organizations, among them the Mobile Infirmary Medical Center (past chairman); the International Business Advisory Board (past chairman); UMS-Wright Preparatory School’s Board of Trustees (past chairman); Mobile Carnival Association (chairman emeritus); The Japan America Society of Alabama’s Board of Directors; and the Board of Advisors for the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce.

Recognized for his outstanding achievements, Cooper was the recipient of the 1995 Achievement in Transportation Award from The University of Alabama and the 1996 Outstanding Alumni Award from the UMS-Wright Alumni Association.

Cooper is an active member of Christ Episcopal Cathedral and is married to the former Joanne Knowles. They have three children and five grandchildren.

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