Before the Closures: Rocky and Roberta’s Wedding Graces Ferndale High School
(Mark H. Stowers, April 2, 2020)
Ferndale, MI – They were good friends when they attended Ferndale High School. But who would have destined them to come back “home” and get married there? Rocky Cooper graduated in 1979, he left for Ohio and then had his own career that would eventually end up back in Ferndale as a DPW Supervisor. Roberta Clark (Kargol) got her diploma in 1981 and went on with her life and eventually became a City of Oak Park employee as a Code Enforcer.
But as life would have it, the duo’s fate was to have them reunite.
“She was a freshman coming in when we first met,” Rocky said. “We were just friends in high school. She said she had a crush on me but I didn’t know that.”
The couple couldn’t remember a “first ever meeting” but “Although it was so long ago that we don’t actually remember the first time we met, I am sure that our mutual goofiness drew us together in the commons of the high school.
‘I was more reserved initially and Rocky made high school much more fun,” she said. “I did musicals and Rocky was an athlete but we enjoyed attending school basketball and football games together.”
In 1995, Rocky moved back home from Texas and took a job with the City of Ferndale. The crew there enjoys spending time together outside of work and one of those get togethers brought the high school friends back in focus of each other.
“Marne (McGrath) asked if she could bring a friend and I asked who and she said Roberta. I said ok. But when we got to the bar, she introduced me and I said, ‘This Roberta?’ They were best friends.”
It still wasn’t the best timing because Rocky was in a relationship and Roberta was in the middle of taking care of sick parents.
“We didn’t start dating until five years ago,” he said.The relationship built from the high school foundation that had been laid and the duo “fell deeply in love.” Rocky decided to ask Roberta to marry him over New Year’s Eve. But each one was feeling sick on the special day.
“We were both sick and I told him, ‘why don’t we just stay home?’ but he said, ‘no, we’re going.’ (laughing) he got down on one knee and said he might need help getting back up. It was all very sweet,” she said.
After he popped the question, the duo was looking for a place to host the wedding and Roberta jokingly threw out the idea of “well, how about the Commons where we met?”
The idea had charm to it for the pair of lifelong Eagles who remain committed to their community. “Rockey had worked for the City of Ferndale forever, so he made it happen,” she said.
“I went up to the high school and talked to (principal) Lisa Williams and she said, ‘This is a great story. I love this!” Rocky said.
The request to use the school was embraced by school administration, and they agreed up on the Feb. 20 date. They were looking at March 12 but discussion of the looming coronavirus outbreak and potential for building closures made them move up their nuptials.
“The ceremony was really nice and we were greeted by people from the high school,” Roberta said. “Before the ceremony was over the photos were on the Ferndale Public School’s Facebook page.”
The blended family has plenty of challenges but while Roberta didn’t have children with her first husband, she now has a house full and then some.
“I met my first husband later in life, so I didn’t get the house full of kids I always wanted. Rocky has several children and many, many grandchildren, so I get to enjoy them with him,” she said.
The couple have eventual plans to move south after retirement to the country of Panama where they are building a home. They have plans to try their hand at an eco-friendly tour of Panama business for cruise ships passengers. The duo and their somewhat fairy tale romance gave them a chance for true love and they encourage anyone looking for love to persevere.
“Individually, we experienced love and loss in different ways but it didn’t break us. Never give up on the chance to find love again,” she said.