BEHIND THE BOARD MEMBER: Herb Cooper, Capital Improvements Committee Chair

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Board member Herb Cooper can say he aimed for the stars and landed on the moon.

Prior to his life at North Shore Towers (NST), the 84-year-old electrical engineer worked for several major engineering corporations before launching his own company 43 years ago.

The company, Cooper said, designs and manufactures electronics for industrial control systems, as well as for several United States agencies — and the products of his hard work have seen the moon. They were incorporated in numerous manufacturing plants as well as in space exploration, he said.

So when Cooper moved to NST, it was only fit for him to become a member of the Capital Improvements Committee — joining a group of about 10 people who are all heavily experienced in management and engineering.

Cooper — a graduate of City College of New York — was then elected to the Board in 2006 and became Chair of the committee one year later.

“This allowed me to continue what I was doing for 40 years. In the big picture, it makes me — like all the Board members — feel like I’m doing the right thing for shareholders and for myself,” Cooper said, adding that the positions Board members fill are all unpaid with no perks.

His committee oversees major projects of the co-op pertaining to repairing, rebuilding or making key changes. Cooper said they work with management to come up with potential solutions and also review major bids to make sure things are handled properly and correctly.

“The biggest challenge is to be able to do [the job] without stepping on too many people’s toes because sometimes we make major changes which look risky, but in reality are really necessary,” Cooper said, pointing to the co-ops next biggest project of replacing generators. “If some things are not done, the costs at NST would escalate. If you’re successful, it’s a win-win situation in all regards, and if you’re not successful, it’s a lose-lose situation in all regards.”

Among successful completed projects in the last couple of years — including the replacing of the co-op’s heavily-corroded main chimney — the committee has replaced three major ramps in the garage, installed motion detector lights that shut off when they’re not in use in order to save money, implemented a smoke detector system for all 33 floors in all three buildings that automatically alert the fire department if dangerous smoke is detected and installed battery-operated emergency lighting on all stairways.

Outside of the Towers, Cooper is also involved with the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center, located in Glen Cove, where he speaks to students a couple of times a month about “how the Holocaust happened and how it shouldn’t happen in the future.”

Born and raised in Vienna, Austria, Cooper said he escaped just before World War II began.

“I was one of the last few people to leave,” he said.

At age 11, he arrived in New York, where the “great majority” of his life took place. He said he still remembers “everything that happened” from the first moment his new life began.

Now, Cooper lives in NST with his wife, Joyce, a mathematician. Together, they have one daughter.

The engineer continues to juggle all activities stemming from his over four-decade long passion. His company is still in business, and Cooper said he dedicates several days a week to it.

“I thought that I was going to be retiring from my company,” he said, reflecting back on when he first moved to NST. “It turns out that I’m not retired from my company. I’m still involved quite heavily,” he laughed.

More from Around New York