Charlotte E. Cooper
Inducted in 1998
Charlotte Cooper had a vision of fielding a marching band at the Florida State College for Women, and she was determined to make the improbable dream come true. In 1939, Charlotte and her friends, Jean Hitchcock and Allie Ludlaw, posted notices on campus and went door to door in the dorms looking for students who played instruments. Music faculty member Owen Sellers agreed to be the band director. On Thanksgiving Day in 1939, with less than twenty members, the band performed for the first time at the Odds and Evens intramural football game. A year later, the Florida Flambeau published an advertisement for band try-outs. After a performance for a student convocation in 1941, the band was officially recognized by the Florida State College for Women. The band elected Charlotte as its first president, and, upon her graduation in 1943, named her founder and President Emeritus of the first marching band of the Florida State College for Women.
A native of Brooksville, Florida, Charlotte attended high school in Bradenton, Florida and played violin and French horn in the orchestra and band. After earning a Bachelor of Music degree, she taught band and orchestra for thirty-six years at St. Cloud School as well as Bay Point, Southside and Riviera middle schools in Pinellas County. Charlotte retired from teaching in 1979.
Throughout her career, Charlotte was passionate about music and music education and positively impacted the lives of hundreds of students. In 1958, Charlotte and Aileen Chapman worked together to found the Pinellas Youth Symphony, providing string instrument training to elementary and middle school students in the area. The symphony performed for the first time in 1959 and is still in existence today, performing several concerts each year. In the early 1990s, she was a part of the original group to form a music alumni association in the Tampa Bay area under the guidance of Dean Jon Piersol of the Florida State University School of Music. Charlotte was a member of the American School Band Directors Association and the Florida Bandmasters Association.
On November 4, 1989, during the Homecoming football game, Florida State University recognized Charlotte Cooper as the founder of the marching band. Charlotte led the homecoming parade, was honored on the field before the football game, and conducted the Marching Chiefs on the field. Thanks to Charlotte's leadership and dedication to music, a tradition of excellence began at the Florida State College for Women in 1939 and continues to the present day at Florida State University.