From: Bill Cooper
Date: July 7, 2007 4:33:19 PM PDT
To: Bill Cooper
Subject: Brazil Mission

Dear Elmo prayer warriors—
Just a quick note to let you know that Grant, Cheyne and our youth pastor, Chris, made it safely to their destination in Brazil yesterday, after three flights and about 24 hours of total travel time! Bill Randolph will be joining them next week.
This is great news, and we thank everyone for their prayers and support for this mission.

•    •    •

From: Bill Cooper
Date: November 27, 2007 5:07:10 PM PDT
To: Bill Cooper
Subject: services for Margie Linton and Dorothy Collins

Please pray for the services for Marg and Dorothy. Marge’s service will be on Friday (11/30) at 1:00, and Dorothy Collins service will be on Monday (12/3) at 1:00 … Please pray for both families. Also, remember Ardis Higgins at this time as Miji spent some time with her this morning letting her know that Marg had passed away. Thank you for all your support and prayers.

•    •    •

From: Bill Cooper
Date: February 29, 2008 6:51:54 PM PDT
To: Bill Cooper
Subject: John Watts

What a comfort to know that our dear ELMO Family were remembering John today with his pace maker procedure. It went well and he is doing fine. It will probably take about 24 hours to get all of the anesthesia out of his system, but otherwise all is well. Please know that you are all appreciated so much.
With thanks,
Patty Watts

•    •    •

The messages would arrive randomly. Three- or four-sentence e-mails outlining a need, or a thanksgiving, an operation, the occasional death. They were simple prayer requests, no different than those heard in communities of faith anywhere in the world. Indeed, I’ve heard them and responded to them all my life.

What made these different? And why have they captured my attention for almost two years?

Maybe it was the messenger.

Bill Cooper was a big bear of a man, but one of the friendliest, gentlest people I’ve ever come across. He found humor in every situation and really didn’t need a reason to laugh. Humble and unassuming, he was your typical, laid-back California-kind of guy.

Except for the light that sparkled in his eyes and seemed to radiate from deep within his soul. Bill Cooper was on fire for Jesus Christ, and it showed.

I first met Bill at a parents meeting for El Montecito Presbyterian Church’s youth program. My family and I are parishioners at All Saints By-the-Sea Episcopal Church but my daughter is a regular in both youth groups. She’s a sociable teenager, and has plenty of friends at each church. Very ecumenical, I noted. Bill laughed.

One day, he was talking about ElMo’s e-mail prayer list and I asked to be included. At first, like a newbie, I would respond earnestly to each message. After a time, routine set in and I would just delete them after hurriedly saying a prayer. Once I even typed Bill an “unsubscribe” reply because I realized I didn’t know half the people whose names I was reading. Right before I clicked “send,” however, I had an epiphany.

As I was relating to Bill’s daughter, Tracy, earlier this week, in my business, I get a ton of e-mail each day — upward of 200 messages. But those periodic bursts Bill was sending me were incredibly simple reminders that, as Christians, we’re part of a larger body that must not ignore the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ — no matter how busy or important we think we are. It’s the uncomplicated act of taking time out to reconnect with God on someone else’s behalf that is so rewarding. I have Bill to thank for that.

I only wish I could.

Late Saturday afternoon, Bill Cooper left this earth for his heavenly reward. He was struck down Wednesday evening and hospitalized, but there was nothing mere mortals could do. In the prime of his life, at age 54, he was gone.

“Bill’s death is a reminder that the significance of a person’s life is not in duration but in donation,” the Rev. Harold Bussell, ElMo’s senior pastor, told me this week.

Those words are as profound as Bill’s faith was deep. For, like the apostle Paul, Bill had released his life to Jesus Christ. But unlike so many of us, he had spent the rest of his life living for Him.

Bill touched the lives of countless people in this town. He’ll be eulogized — and rightly so — for his accomplishments as a husband and a father, as an architect and a Boy Scout leader, and as a man who walked arm in arm with God. Within that context, the part about being a prayer warrior may seem insignificant. But not to me.

Bill Cooper has sent his last e-mail, but I know he now knows that I got his message.

Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder, publisher and CEO.

Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at, and follow him on Instagram: @bill.macfadyen. The opinions expressed are his own.