Catherine (Anne Marie Prillaman) Cooper
June 12, 2020
Dedicated to Friends, Past and Present
Catherine (Anne Marie Prillaman) Cooper passed away peacefully at home in Midlothian, VA on June 12th after a courageous four year battle with Multiple System Atrophy (MSA).
Catherine “Cathy” is survived by her devoted husband Steve Cooper, children Stephen Lemoine, Stephenie White, Bailey Cooper, and Jonathon Gardner as well as eight beautiful grandchildren and plethora other family and friends who will greatly miss her. She is preceded in death by her parents, Henry Phillip Prillaman and Nancy de Loache Blankenship Crawford.
Catherine was born July 18, 1950 in Roanoke Virginia where she graduated from Jefferson High School. She went on to earn a BA in History from Virginia Commonwealth University. After college, she began a 45 year career as a flight attendant, beginning with Southern Airways, then on to Republic Airways, Northwest Airlines and finally Delta Air Lines.
On April 4, 1977, Catherine survived the horrific crash of Southern Flight 242, which took the lives of 72 people. As a crew member, Catherine remained calm and professional while briefing and preparing the passengers for an emergency landing. She received a Commendation of Heroism for her competent and professional performance of duty for her actions before, during and after the crash. The NTSB concluded that “her initiation of a comprehensive emergency briefing of the passengers in preparation for a crash landing contributed to the survival of 20 passengers”. Catherine has been interviewed by National Geographic, Discovery Channel, and the Weather Channel for televised documentaries about the crash of Flight 242. She was also featured in the 2018 Smithsonian book ‘Southern Storm’. Her courageous decision to continue flying was inspirational to scores of other flight attendants. Having survived such a close brush with death at the age of 26, Catherine lived the remainder of her life with an acute awareness that every day is a gift.
Catherine enjoyed her life to the fullest, and will be warmly remembered for her sense of humor, love of adventure, entrepreneurial spirit, generosity, and her compassion for all God’s creatures. Her job allowed her to see the world and to enjoy it with family and many fellow crew members who remained dear friends for the rest of her life. Years working the route to Beijing China resulted in a love for pearls, which she gave to many of the women in her life. She loved all animals, particularly her Sheltie dogs, and rescuing orphaned baby squirrels. In addition, Catherine was an avid reader, solver of challenging crossword and Sudoku puzzles, and all-around fun person.
The family wishes to thank her many loving caregivers, healthcare providers and Heartland Hospice team, who helped Catherine during her extended illness.