Former restaurateur Reba Cooper of Northwest Baltimore didn't want to be known as a cook.
But that's one of the accomplishments her relatives say they always will remember about the 99-year-old Russian native who died in her sleep Friday at North Oaks Retirement Community in Pikesville.
Such foods as hot roast-beef sandwiches, gefilte fish and apple strudel were mainstays of Cooper's Restaurant, which was owned by Mrs. Cooper, who worked in the kitchen, and her husband, Jacob Cooper.
The couple, who had been married 61 years, "really had a love affair," said a daughter, Sylvia Weiner of Northwest Baltimore. Mr. Cooper died in 1979.
For many years, the Coopers lived behind their Pimlico Road restaurant, which they opened as a neighborhood confectionery-grocery store in 1932. It soon evolved into one of the area's first kosher, family-style restaurants as neighbors sought homemade foods from Mrs. Cooper, her daughter said.
"People would line up around the corner to get in on Sunday nights," recalled grandson Ira Weiner of Roland Park.
The Coopers, who moved to Rogers Avenue in 1956, sold the restaurant in 1965. Mrs. Cooper moved to North Oaks in 1990.
Born Reba Fader in Kiev, Ukraine, she came to Baltimore with her family when she was 8. Although she only attended school through sixth grade, her family praised her intelligence and business acumen.
"She was the businesswoman behind the restaurant, but she never let my father know it," Mrs. Weiner said, laughing.
A 40-year member of Chizuk Amuno Congregation in Stevenson, Mrs. Cooper also was active in several organizations, including the Eastern Star Beacon Chapter, and was a life member of Hadassah. She was a founding member of the Royal Sisters Society, a philanthropic group.
An avid newspaper reader, Mrs. Cooper also devoted much time to her family, arm-wrestling and playing ball with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
"She wanted to be remembered as a person who had a lot of fun," said Lynn Weinberg of Roland Park, a granddaughter-in-law.
Services were yesterday at Sol Levinson & Bros.
Other survivors include a daughter, Miriam Himmelstein of Baltimore; a son, Jerry Cooper of Los Angeles; nine grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren.
Pub Date: 6/23/97