Jane Ellen “Janelle” (Marks) Cooper, age 99, of Paulden, AZ passed away peacefully on Sunday, July 28th, 2019. She died with as much grace as she lived, surrounded by family and dear friends.

Janelle was born May 31, 1920 in Los Angeles, CA to Jasper Glenn Marks and Florence Pixley Marks, the second of two children.  She attended the Marlborough School in Los Angeles and graduated from Stanford University in 1942. During her junior year in high school, she met the love of her life, Jeff. They eloped in February, 1942, she a senior at Stanford, he a commissioned second lieutenant in the Marine Corps, in the throes of World War II. Together, they would lead an extraordinary life through 64 years of marriage; winning dance contests, enduring wars, raising a family, starting a world-renowned institution, and travelling the world.   

After raising their 3 daughters in the Big Bear Lake area of California, Jeff and Janelle moved to Paulden, Arizona in 1975, to fulfill Jeff’s vision of creating a school where the private citizen could learn the fundamentals of self-defense through personal firearms training. They started the American Pistol Institute in 1978, which would later become known as Gunsite Ranch (now Gunsite Academy). As the perfect complement to Jeff, Janelle’s steadfast devotion to her husband facilitated the success of his vision. Janelle’s charm, grace, and warm hospitality greeted decades of students and instructors, leaving her with lifelong friends far and wide.    

After Jeff’s passing in 2006, Janelle carried on in their home at Gunsite Ranch, known as “the Sconce,” until her death. She continued to open her home to students graduating from the 250 pistol class at Gunsite, offering her famous brownies and “Arnold Palmers” (iced tea and lemonade), as well as a tour of the home which displays a lifetime of history. She (with family) started the Jeff Cooper Legacy Foundation in 2006, and served as its president until her death.     

The epitome of grace and strength, Janelle was a remarkable woman in countless ways. She was beautiful, dignified, humble, gracious, sharp, generous, and incredibly resilient  She could intelligently converse with anyone about almost anything, and attributed her longevity and vigorous good health to maintaining a positive outlook. The world is diminished by her loss, but her legacy will live on through the many lives she has influenced.

She is survived by her beloved daughters, Christy (Charles) Hastings, Parry (Bruce) Heath, Lindy (Joe) Wisdom, grandchildren Amy (David) Lovato, Vicky (Cougan) Carothers, Lisa (Brian) Altevogt, Tess (Jeremy) Jones, Tyler (Jenny) Heath, 13 great-grandchildren, and many, many dear friends. She has been interred beside her husband in the mausoleum at Gunsite in a private ceremony.  A memorial celebration of life will be held at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 2000 Shepherds Ln. in Prescott, on Sat., Sept. 28 at 11:00am. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Jeff Cooper Legacy Foundation (jeffcooperfoundation.org).

5 thoughts on “

  1. First, I would like to offer my condolences. I only got to spend a short time with Mrs. Cooper, but in that short time she treated me like family. The time I got to spend at the Sconce talking with Mrs. Cooper was the highlight of my week at Gunsite and a time that I will treasure forever.

    Jesse Ordunez
    Scholarship recipient June 2017

  2. The world is now a poorer place, but is so fortunate to have had Janelle….a lady with style and grace that since the early days in 1976 has BEEN Family to me.

    We are diminished now yes, but Janelle leaves a legacy and character that should be emulated by every woman in our nation.

    Cas Gadomski — Wyoming (formally Alaska).

  3. I offer my deepest condolences to the Cooper family and all those at Gunsite. It is with great fondness that I remember meeting Mrs. Cooper at her home after my 250 class and receiving the Jeff Cooper Legacy Foundation scholarship in 2012. She was an incredible woman, graceful and a true lady.

    Louie Tirona

  4. Her family and friends are in our thoughts and prayers, that you my be comforted at this time of loss. Janelle was a “Lady” in the truest sense of the word. She and Jeff made an exemplary team, and together have built a world-class legacy that is GUNSITE and all that it embodies. Jeff and Janelle Cooper, and the GUNSITE Family, have had a powerful influence in my life, and I am a better person for having known them.

  5. In every sense of the word, Janelle Cooper was remarkable. As genuine and natural as a Spring shower, she projected an easy grace and a palpable zest for life, which she sprinkled generously among her friends and family. Watching her dance with her great grandchildren gladdened the heart and brought joy to those who watched, I among them. Surely, she was one of the nicest, most caring people on the planet. Those many grand qualities she passed on to her three beautiful, smart and accomplished daughters, who carry the legacy of this wonderful woman.

    Humbly and lovingly, I convey my sympathy and condolences to her family. The world is a better place because of Janelle. May she rest in eternal peace.

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