Two weeks ago, for the first time in several decades, the Valley
Record ran an ad for its office manager position. Joan Cooper, who had held
down the newspaper’s front office for some 25 years, had announced she’d be
running to the sun.
Cooper first started at the newspaper in February 1975 while the
company was owned by Gaillard Buchman and Bob Soister. Since then, she
has worked with four publishers, five editors and countless of reporters
and sales people to produce the weekly newspaper.
“We interviewed several girls and a lot came with jeans and messed
up hair not looking very office-like,” recalled former owner Cleo
Soister. “She was so different. She was
neatly dressed and I saw her at a town meeting and I thought it was good that
she showed some interest in the city.”
“Joan always did her share and more and she was very
dependable and very kind and nice,” she added.
Now 25 years later, Cooper will take her last classified ad and help
her final customer before she spends several sunny months in paradise.
“I’ve been here half my life and it’ll be a big change,” she said of
her retirement. “But I have a chance to go to Hawaii and I think it will be a
fun thing to do.”
Over the years Cooper has made many friends inside and outside of
the Valley Record building. When she first started, the newspaper and
Falls Printing were one company, which meant in addition to her daily
duties for the newspaper she was also responsible for selling office supplies
and dealing with the printing orders.
“About 10 years ago I probably knew about half of the people in
the Valley because people from Weyerhaeuser, the businesses and
the school district used to come here for printing,” she said. “People just
don’t come in like they used to.”
There were other unofficial duties Cooper performed, as well, such
as planning the Snoqualmie Days events, assisting with Chamber of
Commerce functions and helping with the Little League registration when Jim
and Karen McKiernan bought the newspaper. She also worked as the
Bingo manager for the Sno-Valley Eagles 3529 for the past decade. But most
of all, Cooper was the all-knowing source for the Valley Record staff and
“That’ll be one thing that’ll be hard to replace,” said former Valley
Record owner Sandy Scott of Cooper’s experience. “It’ll take forever to train
someone on the 25 years of information Joan has in her head.”
“She’s as much of a fixture here as the cameras in the back and the
oldest furniture we have,” added Publisher Jim McKiernan.
Though the office decor hasn’t changed very much over the years,
the technology did. Cooper’s trusty typewriter was soon replaced with a
new desktop computer — an upgrade that wasn’t embraced by all of the
employees at the newspaper.
“Us girls didn’t even want them in the building because we didn’t
think we’d know how to work it,” Cooper said.
But with time, Cooper’s handwritten advertising orders and
subscription cards were replaced with computerized versions. She even took
several computer classes at the local school to further expand her technical
Soon the days of learning more computer programs, office work
and answering phones will finally come to an end for Cooper. The only thing
that will be left on her agenda will be swimming in the pools and
soaking up the sun. And, who knows, she might just pen a sequel to
Charlotte Paul’s “Minding Our Own Business.”
“Maybe in my beach bum days I’ll write a book,” Cooper said.