Claude and Vivian Cooper
Back Home Up Next

Claude and Vivienne Cooper


Toodle's Drugstores and Cooper's Drugstore


Claude and Vivian Cooper

Mr. Claude Cooper is a native of Cold Creek, Tennessee and was born on December 20, 1906. His parents, Charlie and Haster Cooper, sent him to live with his mother's brother and family in Detroit when Mr. Cooper was fifteen years old.

Mrs. Vivienne Cooper was born on February 25, 1916 in Elizabeth City, North Carolina to Joshua and Sarah Bass Arthur. Her family moved to Titustown, Virginia when she was two years old and she arrived in Detroit at the age of sixteen to visit one of her older half-sisters and her husband, and they invited Mrs. Cooper to stay.

Mr. Cooper graduated from Southeastern High School in 1926 and immediately entered Detroit City College (later Wayne University). After a year and a half of study, he transferred to Detroit Institute of Technology to begin his pharmacy studies and completed the degree in 1934. He passed the state licensing exam in 1935.

Mrs. Cooper graduated from Northern High School in 1935 and enrolled in Wayne University. She met Mr. Cooper when he began working part-time in the drug store owned and operated by her brother-in-law, Stuart Toodle, where she worked at the soda fountain on weekends.

They were married in 1936. She enrolled in the pharmacy course at Detroit Institute of Technology in 1942 and earned her degree in 1946.

Mr. Cooper formed a partnership with Boynton A. Milton, M.D. in 1946 and opened a drug store in Inkster, Michigan, which they operated for five years. Mrs. Cooper worked there part-time, but decided to work full-time in the Detroit drug store, Cooper's Drugs, which they had opened in 1946 at the corner of Tireman and Stanford Streets and operated until the early 1960s.

Eventually, Mrs. Cooper decided she no longer wanted to pursue a career in pharmacy and returned to school to earn a master's degree in education. She retired from the Detroit Public School system.

In the meantime, Mr. Cooper worked in the Elias Brothers chain of drugstores for ten years between 1957 - 1967 and also the Cunningham chain of drugstores between 1967 - 1982, which included Shapiro Drugs and Kinsel's Drugs. He retired in 1982.

Tape recorded interview;
Detroit, MI
4 November  1998
audio clip

Mrs. Cooper talks about the limited professional opportunities available for Blacks who were pharmacists during the 1940s - 1960s

There were no [opportunities], in my estimation-I didn't try to go to apply to the chains. There were a few chains.

I: What were those? What were the names of those? Pharmacy chains?

R: Cunningham was the biggest one then in the city. And then there was a drug company, Parke-Davis. We didn't even try to apply there because we felt that they wouldn't take us. So, my feeling was that most Blacks would try to open their own store, or work for someone they knew, who had a store. Because they felt that the chains would not take them, and that the big drug companies, like Parke-Davis, would not take them.


William G. Anderson
Reginald P. Ayala
Arthur W Boddie
Wilma Brakefield-Caldwell
Henry C. Bryant Jr.
Alice Burton
Waldo L. Cain
James W. Collins
Claude and Vivienne Cooper
Gladys B. Dillard
George Gaines Jr.
Leon Gant
Herman J. Glass Sr.
Della Goodwin
Joseph B. Harris
Frank P. Iacobell
Horace L. Jefferson
Sidney B. Jenkins
Arthur Johnson
Rachel B. Keith
William E. Lawson
Josephine Love
Hayward Maben Jr.
Berna C. Mason
Suesetta T. McCree
Dorothy Mottley
David C. Northcross Jr.
Ophelia B. Northcross
Marjorie Peebles-Meyers
Frank P. Raiford III
Garther Roberson Jr.
S. L. Roberson
Elsie Smith
Fannie L. Starks
Lionel F. Swan
Natalia M. Tanner
Oretta Mae Todd
I. Clara Webb
Charles F. Whitten
Charles H. Wright
Watson Young


Home ] Up ]

Copyright , Kellogg African American Health Care Project, 2000.
Text and images may not be used without the permission of the Kellogg African American Health Care Project.