Dr. Ruth Ann Cooper Back to Classmembers page

From 45th Reunion

A Synopsis of Forty-Five Years

     I attended Little Rock Central High School only one year because of fallout from the School Integration Crisis.  I wouldn’t have gone there at all but when I threatened to go to college a year early because of harassment at the school I attended, my father agree to pay tuition so I could graduate from the same school as six of my seven siblings.  It was a lonely year but I gained one life long friend.  I have always been proud to say I graduated from LRCHS.
     I attended Little Rock University (now UALR), working and saving money to attend medical school.  I had decided in the summer between eighth and ninth grade that I would be a psychiatrist.  After three years at Little Rock University, I was accepted at the University Of Tennessee School of Medicine in Memphis.   Fortunately, with the help of my sister and brother-in-law, I was able to graduate without a great deal of debt.    I did an internship in Allentown, PA and a residency in psychiatry at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago, Ill.
     At this point I took a detour.  I married, and worked for three and one-half years in a store front clinic in a socio-economically disadvantaged area (read ghetto) on the west side of Chicago.  I practiced general medicine and had many interesting experiences but always intended to return to psychiatry.   My husband and I saved money and took thirteen months off to travel around the world, spending most of our time in Southeast Asia and India.
     We returned to the United States and lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico for three weeks before deciding it wasn’t for us and moved to San Francisco.  I took a job with the City of Berkley Mental Health Service working with the chronically mentally ill.  I was there three years winding up as the Supervising Psychiatrist for the City of Berkeley or as I liked to say I was the head shrink of Berkeley.  At some point my husband and I decided we wanted different things and divorced.  He went to Hawaii but I turned homeward where a new generation was beginning.  I also hated the weather in the bay area.  It was always fall and I missed the hot humid summers of Arkansas.
     In 1981, I came home and bought a house in the heights.  My nieces and nephew produced a wonderful crop of six great nieces and nephews here and a couple more in Illinois, an easy one-day drive away.  I had eight wonderful children to watch grow and develop, as I was an involved great-aunt.  I remind people that being an aunt is like being a grandparent without having to be a parent first.  One of those nephews and his wife will make a great-great aunt in January.
     I was in private practice here briefly but hated it.  I worked at several Community Mental Health Centers in and near Little Rock and was at the VA for five years.  For the past fifteen years I have worked at GAIN, Inc. an assertive community treatment program for the chronically and persistently mentally ill.  I have a wide range of duties and feel very lucky to have the opportunity to work with sometimes delightful and sometimes difficult but always interesting patients along with my dedicated and caring team members.
     I became a psychiatrist to support a writing habit, something I decided to do when I was around ten.  In fact I’m proud to say I haven’t worked full time (for money) since 1973.  I am writing regularly but no, I haven’t published anything.  I’ve completed a couple of short novels and one full length one so I am honing my craft.  In addition to writing I play classical guitar, not very well, and garden.  I live with two shelties, one rescued from a puppy mill.  

Ruth Anne Cooper, M. D.