Ollie May Cooper, 94, a retired lawyer who had taught law at Howard University and been active in professional organizations, died of congestive heart failure Tuesday at her home in Washington.
She had been an assistant secretary of the National Law Association and vice president of the Washington Bar Association. She also was a founder of Epsilon Sigma Iota, a legal sorority.
Miss Cooper graduated magna cum laude from the Howard University School of Law in 1921. She worked her way through law school as secretary to the dean and also served as a clerk at the law school from 1918 to 1928.
After being admitted to the bar in 1926, she and another black woman, Isadore Letcher, opened their own law firm on John Marshall Place NW. Over the years, Miss Cooper specialized in landlord-tenant law and wills and probate. She retired in the early 1960s.
In addition to her private practice, Miss Cooper volunteered her services in civil rights cases in Anacostia and remained active at Howard. She donated her time as a law professor at Howard in the late 1920s and served over the years as alumni secretary and school historian.
Miss Cooper was born in Bell, Tenn,. and came to Washington at an early age. In 1978, "The Barrister," an official publication of the Howard University School of Law, hailed Miss Cooper for 43 years of service to the school. It also pointed out that she was only the 13th woman to graduate from the law school.
She had received a meritorious service award from Howard University in 1969 and from the alumni association in 1965.
Miss Cooper leaves no immediate survivors.