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The stretch of riverside property known as Adrian's Island will soon be transformed from a seldom-traveled wooded area to a popular riverside destination for locals and tourists.

It's only fitting that the park will be named after Deborah Cooper, who envisioned and championed the location as a spot to give people access to the Missouri River.

Cooper, as we recently reported, was an outgoing and popular bank employee. She was the executive assistant to Sam B. Cook, longtime chairman of boards for Central Trust Bank and Central Bancompany.

She and other visionaries, including our former owner/publisher Betty Weldon, had the goal of developing more than 30 acres along the south bank of the Missouri River, stretching from just west of the state Capitol to east of the Jefferson City Correctional Center.

The chunk of land is called Adrian's Island, despite the fact it's not an island. It borders the Missouri River on one side and Union Pacific Railroad tracks on the other.

It's those railroad tracks that have hobbled efforts to plan the project. Plans were made to go over or under the tracks at times, but they either didn't meet with approval from regulatory agencies or they were too expensive.

Then, in 2015, longtime project supporter B.J. DeLong donated $3 million to jump-start the project

DeLong died in July, shortly before crews broke ground on the bridge, now named the B.J. DeLong Bicentennial Bridge.

Likewise, Cooper did not get to see her dream become reality. Cancer claimed her at the young age of 34.

Her obituary asked that in lieu of flowers, mourners contribute to the Deborah Cooper Historical Memorial Park Foundation.

Cooper, like many visionaries and leaders, knew her efforts were not as likely to enrich her life as those in future generations. Those efforts that she made decades ago will soon pay off.

News Tribune

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