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A sad, but fitting, Valentine's Day tribute

J. H. Osborne • Feb 14, 2020 at 7:30 PM

Micki would have been 55 years old a week from today, on February 21. A survivor of one heart attack, Micki the outspoken advocate, had been promoting the American Heart Association’s heart disease awareness events that mark this as National Heart Month. One such event is “Wear Red Day.” Micki posted a photo of herself in a vibrant red ensemble with copy overlaid to note “Micki. Heart Attack Survivor” and “My future is WHY.” That overlay is part of an American Heart Association “life is why” campaign, and the overall poster was designed to highlight the Go Red for Women event.

It is Micki Cooper Wells, by the way. And she had, you see, literally made herself a “poster child” for Heart Month. The picture of that poster was among the last things Micki posted on social media. She died a few days ago. Apparently in her sleep — taken by her second heart attack. Micki, who grew up one street over from me in Borden Village, was living in Hendersonville, North Carolina, where she worked for local government on a housing program.

News of her death was a shock. I hope it would make her happy I’ve chosen to use our loss to boost public awareness of the cause she was supporting by posing for that poster.

Even though we lived a block apart, we didn’t really become friends until we were both at Dobyns-Bennett High School. She was two years behind me, but we shared several classes in the two years we overlapped. Mostly those classes were with Mrs. (Nancy) Pridemore, in drama and public speaking. We were in a few plays together. I got on her last nerve with my ever-present 35mm camera — especially during the six weeks she had swim class right before class with Mrs. Pridemore.

A few years later, I saw a lot of Micki while she tended bar in the Back Room at Skoby’s. By then I knew her [parents and all her siblings: Vicki; Donna; and “Billy.” You’ve all heard a lot about Vicki and our escapades. A lot of people never knew I knew Micki first. After moving “over the mountain” Micki pursued higher education at Blue Ridge Community College, where she made the dean’s list multiple times.

Micki is survived by: her “fur baby” Izzy; treasured niece Taylor Thompson, Kingsport; beloved nephew Major Nicholas C. Cooper, U.S.A.F., Charleston, South Carolina; sisters Vicki Cooper Trammell (and husband Phillip “Tiger”) and Donna Cooper, Kingsport; brother William Cooper, Washington, D.C.; and several aunts, uncles and cousins. She was preceded in death by her parents, Lela Joan “Jo Ann” Hall and William “Bill” Cooper.

Arrangements are incomplete. But I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest donations in Micki’s honor to the American Heart Association.

Meanwhile, I’ve got to get busy making “Jo Ann’s Famous Hot Chicken Salad Casserole” to carry in for the family. I’m so glad their mom gave her recipe to Vicki, who gave it to me. It’s a perfect comfort dish. I hope the healthy heart folks will give me a pass just this once.

J.H. Osborne covers Sullivan County government for the Times News. Email him at josborne@timesnews.net.