Jeanne A. Cooper, M.D. – Jeanne C. Ault

Dr. Jeanne A. Cooper, also known as Jeanne C. Ault, 94, died on Nov. 14, 2015, at Family Hospice at UPMC Canterbury, after a brief illness.

Her passing culminated an amazing life, evidenced by lasting friendships, a loving family, a trailblazing career in medicine, international travel and generous philanthropic contributions.

Born in Pittsburgh in 1921, the daughter of Lardin M. and Antoinette S. (Swartz) Cooper, Jeanne and her brother, William, two years her senior, were raised by their mother when their father died while they were very young.

The family lived in Avalon, Pa., Indiana, Pa., Homer City, Pa., and Lorain, Ohio, where Jeanne graduated from high school. An exceptionally bright student, she attended Waynesburg College and the University of Pittsburgh, receiving her bachelor’s degree from Waynesburg. At a time when women were relegated to jobs as secretaries, teachers and nurses, Jeanne pursued a career in medicine. To earn money for medical school, she took courses in metallurgy at Carnegie Tech (now CMU) and worked in a munitions plant during World War II.

She and her brother helped each other pay for med school and she received her degree from Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia in 1947, several years after her brother, William M. Cooper, M.D., J.D., a well-regarded physician, teacher and philanthropist. Jeanne completed her internship and surgical training at Deaconess Hospital in Detroit and West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh.

She moved to Punxsutawney, Pa., in 1949, and went into private practice in family medicine, delivering more than 300 babies, until 1952. There she met the love of her life, James T. Ault, whom she married in 1953 while serving her residency in pathology at the VA Hospital and Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh, becoming board-certified in pathology in 1956. Later that year, the couple moved to Chicago, where she practiced at the VA Hospital and gave birth to their daughter, Toni Lynn, in 1957. In 1958, when James was offered a position to teach Western building techniques in Tehran, Iran, she accepted a teaching post at the Tehran University School of Medicine. Although she taught classes in English, she learned the Farsi language well enough to manage life in Iran. In 1960, the family moved to Los Angeles, where Jeanne became a deputy medical examiner working on high-profile celebrity cases.

Though the position brought a fascinating twist to her career, she longed to return to her hometown, which she did in 1961, taking a position as a staff pathologist at Mercy Hospital. Over a span of 30 years, Jeanne advanced to become vice chairman of the pathology department at Mercy and later chairman of the department and laboratory director, a position she held until her retirement in 1992 at age 72.

During her career, she also held a number of teaching posts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Duquesne University, and for 15 years was the medical director of Mercy Hospital’s School of Medical Technology. Noted for her exceptional teaching skills, she received the Staff Leadership Award at Mercy and the Pathology Teaching Award from Pitt’s Medical School in 1986 and 1988, respectively. She served as an executive officer of the Pittsburgh Pathology Society and Pennsylvania Association of Pathologists for many years and as a delegate to such national organizations as the College of American Pathologists and American Society of Clinical Pathologists.

Jeanne also sat on several boards of directors, including the Blue Shield Medical Board, Family Hospice, Pittsburgh Mercy Foundation, Foundation for History of Women in Medicine and as a medical consultant to Centro de Obras Sociales, in Chimbote, Peru. After her retirement, Jeanne had no plans to slow down and ramped up her philanthropy activities. She established a scholarship at Waynesburg University and a fund with the Pittsburgh Foundation, supporting a number of causes about which she was passionate, including education, medicine and wildlife.

In 1999, her generosity of spirit was recognized by the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh with its Manifesting the Kingdom Award, given to laypersons who demonstrate exceptional service to the diocese and the community. Known for her brilliant intellect and inquisitive mind, Jeanne kept sharp by completing crossword puzzles—in pen.

She also was known for her adventurous spirit, which she fueled by traveling extensively throughout her life, both with her family and on her own. She twice completed cross-country drives on Route 66 and had visited six of the seven continents. She traveled to China in the late 1970s, just after it had opened to the world, and returned there after her retirement. That initial trip sparked a fondness for foo dogs—pairs of lion statues that guarded palaces in pre-modern China—which she collected. The quintessential sheller, Jeanne enjoyed the quiet solitude of the beach at dawn, particularly at Sanibel, Fla., and passed her love of shelling on to generations of friends and family.

She also enjoyed large American convertibles and was a die-hard Pittsburgh Pirates fan.

Jeanne is predeceased by her husband, brother, mother and father. She is survived by her daughter, Toni Ault, of Pittsburgh, and many nieces and nephews.

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