Aldrage B. Cooper, Jr. New Brunswick’s First African-American Mayor, Passes Away

Aldrage B. "Al" Cooper served as 58th Mayor of the City of New Brunswick.

Aldrage B. “Al” Cooper served as 58th Mayor of the City of New Brunswick.

Aldrage B. Cooper, Jr., 58th Mayor of the City of New Brunswick, passed away on September 21, 2016. He was the first African-American resident to fill the role of Mayor for our City.

“Al” Cooper, a charismatic man who stood at a towering six feet, seven inches tall, served on the New Brunswick Board of Education and as City Council president before being chosen to serve as mayor by the New Brunswick City Council on February 11, 1974. He was sworn in on February 20, 1974.

His appointment followed the resignation of Patricia Sheehan, the City’s first and only female mayor.

Following his appointment, Cooper told a reporter with the Home News Tribune that he intended to continue to pursue Sheehan’s unfinished goals.

“Asked if New Brunswick has any one outstanding need, Cooper maintained ‘They are all equally important,” read an article published on the day of his swearing in.

Cooper was a former Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Johnson & Johnson. He lived at 16 Stratford Place with his wife, Judy, and their two children, Jill Elizabeth and Aldrage III.

A photo of the Cooper family and friends printed in the Home News Tribune on March 18, 1974.

A photo of the Cooper family and friends printed in the Home News Tribune on March 18, 1974.

Judy Cooper served on the PTAs for Roosevelt School and Livingston School, respectively, and served as secretary for the New Brunswick Arts Council.

Cooper was part of the inaugural class of inductees into the New Brunswick Education Foundation’s Hall of Distinguished Alumni.

Cooper served out the unexpired term through the end of 1974.

He is one of two African-American mayors to serve in New Brunswick, along with the late Gilbert Nelson who was appointed as Mayor in 1978.

On Monday, September 26, flags at all City buildings will fly at half-staff in Cooper’s honor.

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