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Beloved autistic Hen House sacker remembered for ‘raising hell’ and big smile

Alex Cooper, a sacker at the Prairie Village Hen House, died unexpectedly and was found Jan. 3 in his family home. He was so cherished that well-wishers raised more than $12,000 in three days for his funeral and burial.
Alex Cooper, a sacker at the Prairie Village Hen House, died unexpectedly and was found Jan. 3 in his family home. He was so cherished that well-wishers raised more than $12,000 in three days for his funeral and burial. Blythe Edelman

When a man’s obituary calls him a stubborn hell-raiser, you just know he was loved.

That was the sendoff for Alex Cooper, a sacker at the Prairie Village Hen House who was so cherished that well-wishers raised more than $12,000 in three days for his funeral and burial.

“Alex loved Buca di Beppo and ordering pizzas the size of the table, line dancing, yearly trips to Japan Fest with his bestie Kara, wedding interpretive dance, the George Lopez show, the Smurfs, his friends at Hen House, reruns of old video games, beautiful women, his dogs, his family, delicious desserts, and social gatherings,” read an online obituary for 32-year-old Alexander David Cooper. “Not necessarily in that order.

“He hated raw tomatoes, broccoli and stinky smells,” the obit continued. “Not necessarily in that order.”

Cooper died unexpectedly and was found Jan. 3 in his family home by a friend, according to a GoFundMe page. His older sister and lifelong caretaker with whom he lived, Blythe Edelman, had been away on her honeymoon, according to the fund organizer, Meghan McCallum Black.

Edelman said Tuesday her younger brother was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 5. He also was autistic.

“Explaining to him what he needed to do to stay healthy was difficult,” she said.

Cooper had a sweet tooth and often would binge on cookies or doughnuts, she added. Then he would take wrong doses of insulin.

“Alex would always push the limits. He just needed a lot of monitoring,” Edelman said.

An obituary in The Kansas City Star read that he died “as a result of being stubborn, refusing to follow doctors’ orders and raising hell for more than three decades.”

For the past 15 years, Cooper worked as a courtesy clerk at the grocery store in Corinth Square, where customers would often choose his aisle just for the opportunity to interact with him.

“He always brightened my Hen House shopping trips,” Claire Hollenbeck posted on the fundraising page. “Always tried to get in his line just to say hi ... but he always beat me to it with his big smile and wave! He will be missed!”

“Alex always was so polite and provided wonderful service every time,” another grocery customer, Chandler, wrote. “He would pack my food so carefully and would place the bags inside my car in perfect order. He had a lot of style, too, always sporting sunglasses on bright days and donning a Santa hat at Christmas. He will be missed by all.”

The online obit spoke of lessons learned from Cooper.

“Among them: Always dance like it’s Saturday Night fever and you are John Travolta and you OWN that floor. Sneak out to DB Cooper’s on Wednesday nights to get your karaoke on. Make Halloween epic. Also, love fiercely and unconditionally with all of your being and make everyone smile. And remain young at heart.”

Edelman recalled her brother as a person who loved to sing and entertain.

“He liked to make people happy.”

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