ROTWNEWS.com has selected Jack Cooperman as its 2016 PERSON OF THE YEAR. (Photo by Bob Torrez/Snow Valley Mountain Resort)

By Michael P. Neufeld

Mountain Communities – Jack Cooperman — ROTWNEWS.com’s PERSON OF THE YEAR — is the ultimate volunteer devoting many hours each year to a host of organizations — Rim of the World Special Athletes Foundation, Mountain Meals On Wheels, Mountain Communities Wildfire ReLeaf, Rim of the World Historical Society, Mountain History Museum and the U.S. Adaptive Recreation Center.


Jack Cooperman has been described as the “ultimate volunteer.” (Photo by ROTWNEWS.com)

Cooperman, who has been a full-time mountain resident for over 30 years, retired from the motion picture production industry with a host of film credits including Titanic (1997), Hook (1991), Star Trek IV (1984), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) and Top Gun (1986).

When he’s not volunteering, Cooperman is a ski instructor at Snow Valley Mountain Resort working primarily with disabled individuals and training other ski instructors in adaptive techniques.

Jack Cooperman has been a true asset to Snow Valley and its guests,” General Manager Kevin Somes told ROTWNEWS.com. “His ambition and hard work to create our Adaptive Learning Center are commendable.”


Cooperman enjoys working with special athletes at Snow Valley. (Contributed Photo)

The Rim of the World Special Athletes program is in partnership with Snow Valley Mountain Resort to provide a wide variety of snow activities – including independent skiing (with some or little supervision), four-tracking, and mono-skiing with each service specifically tailored to each participant’s capabilities and interests.

One youngster who participated in the winter program was asked what she liked best about her experience and she replied without hesitation, “Mr. Jack.”

During the summer months, Cooperman can be seen on Lake Arrowhead and Lake Gregory with special athletes. The RSA Foundation offers a wide range of summer activities, including water sports like kayaking, paddle boarding, aqua cycles and fishing. They also offer biking, hiking, golfing and many other outings.


Cooperman presides over a recent Mountain Meals On Wheels board meeting. (Contributed Photo)

Cooperman is always recruiting drivers for Mountain Meals On Wheels and has served as the organization’s president, board member and delivering meals to recipients when needed.

Cooperman — who is currently Mountain Meals On Wheels president — directs the operation that provides meals five days a week (Monday through Friday), 52 weeks a year with only a few exceptions:  major holidays and severe snow days.

And Cooperman can’t say enough good words about the drivers (and volunteers in general) who are honored at an annual dinner.

The San Bernardino Mountains,” Cooperman explained recently, “are one great mountain of people.”


In addition to his volunteer efforts on the mountain, Cooperman once served as vice president of the American Society of Cinematographers. (Contributed Photo)

Cooperman’s volunteerism with the Mountain Communities Wildfire ReLeaf restoration program can best be described by coordinator Cheryl Nagy.

Over the past 14 years,” Nagy told ROTWNEWS.com, “I have worked with Jack Cooperman on several different projects. Jack was an amazing lead volunteer on the Mountain Communities Wildfire ReLeaf reforestation projects we did together in the Tavern Bay area. Without Jack’s guidance and expertise the Tavern Bay neighborhood would not have been included in the projects to replant and maintain the area.

Jack has always been a very dedicated volunteer and shows the true meaning of giving from the heart,” Nagy added. “For me he has been a great mentor and community partner.”


Cooperman’s efforts have helped make the Mountain History Museum a major mountain attraction. (File Photo)

Cooperman — a past president of the Rim of the World Historical Society — recently retired from the board but when one visits the Mountain History Museum it’s hard not to see his “touch” everywhere from the awning above the entrance to the W. Lee Cozad Theater.

Much 0f the Museum’s interior lighting was installed by Cooperman and he spent countless hours with other volunteers constructing exhibit components and installing the landscaping that is evident to everyone passing the Museum at 27176 Peninsula Drive in Lake Arrowhead.

During his tenure on the board, Cooperman helped generate tens of thousands of dollars of in-kind donations to benefit the Mountain History Museum.