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Dec. 1, 1928 – Jan. 29, 2014

Lucy Cooper, a 51-year City of Buffalo employee, died Wednesday in Kenmore Mercy Hospital, Town of Tonawanda, after a short illness. She was 85.

Born Lucia Pandolfino in Buffalo, she grew up on the city’s West Side and lived in her North Buffalo home for 46 years before recently moving to Kenmore. She attended elementary school at Schools 3 and 18, and graduated from Grover Cleveland High School in 1947.

Mrs. Cooper later worked for several years as a school crossing guard at Schools 17 and 56, part of a long career of guiding schoolchildren through the city’s busy intersections. In 2013, her 50th year as a City of Buffalo employee, she was honored at a commemorative dinner.

An officer in the Crossing Guard Association for 18 consecutive years, Mrs. Cooper’s most noted moment occurred in the late 1960s and involved a paper bag discovered on school premises containing narcotics. After local children pointed out the suspicious substances during lunch hour, Mrs. Cooper retrieved more than 200 packets of heroin stashed by criminals in a tree stump and turned them over to police.

A local TV commentator dubbed her the “heroin heroine,” and the incident attracted widespread local and national attention.

On another occasion, a passing Buffalo Courier-Express newspaper photographer snapped a photo of Mrs. Cooper with a stray dog she befriended and had followed her on duty. The photo was judged one of the year’s best and was included in the Courier-Express’ annual calendar

Mrs. Cooper was especially known for her huge collection of Italian cookbooks, which resulted in specialties like spadinis, tripe and various pasta dishes.

She also served as a leader of Cub Scout Pack 45 at Annunciation Catholic Church during the 1950s.

In 1948, she married Dennis Cooper, who died in 1994. She is survived by two sons, Scott and Tony; three sisters, Felicia Zarcone, Toni Paler and Nancy Basalyga; and four grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, 1035 Delaware Ave.