By Dave Woods | DiscoverNorthwestArkansas.com
Sue Siglow came to Bella Vista with one thing in mind: experiencing the Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel and hiking the piney grounds on which it sits.
“Oh my,” Sue said after walking out of the E. Fay Jones-designed chapel, an homage to one of Bella Vista Village’s founders. “It’s beyond words. You need to come and take it in.”
Sue, a resident of Horseshoe Bend, was humbled standing in the shadow of such a soaring structure.
“It’s all about God’s creation,” she quietly explained. “The peace you sense when you enter the chapel. It was a gift and blessing. We need more people like the Coopers that will take pride in the area and help it to grow. I just went up front and thanked God for one more of his marvelous creations, and for the people that he blesses to be able to do something we all can enjoy.”
Scarlett Basore loves to hear that kind of response from those visiting the Cooper Memorial Chapel. Scarlett’s husband, Neff, is the grandson of John Cooper Sr. and Mildred B. Cooper, the chapel’s namesake. Scarlett is president of the board of directors who operate the chapel as a destination for private events and personal meditation.
Gone too soon
Mildred left this life at the age of 77 in 1982. She had no idea that the legacy she left would be memorialized in such an emotionally moving fashion.
“She did not know,” Scarlett explained. “It all happened after she died. John Sr. had the idea. She had put so much of her heart into Bella Vista that there needed to be something memorializing her. They thought of (architect) E. Fay Jones right away. They wanted something that reflected her life’s contributions. It would be a place where people could go and meditate and feel the beauty of Bella Vista.”
Jones, an apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright, was a world-renown architect and designer and professor at the University of Arkansas. He died in 2004.
The community is richer because of Mrs. Cooper’s contributions, both of her own time and resources.
Scarlett never knew Mildred B. Cooper, but from all she has heard about her, the chapel would be a welcome tribute.
“I think it would floor her,” she said. “She loved nature and being with people. Everything about it is just perfect.”