Obituaries

Celebrity Deli Founder Jack Cooper Dies at 87

Jack Cooper, of Edison, formerly of Woodbridge and North Brunswick, died July 12, 2015, at the New Jersey Veteran’s Memorial Home, Menlo Park Terrace. He was 87.

Born in Newark to Jennie (nee Watstein) and Morris Cooper, Jack was raised in Irvington with his two brothers, Max and Arnold. In 1946, he left Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken to serve in the US Navy, where he was a radio technician on the aircraft carrier USS Kearsarge. Honorably discharged in 1948, Jack returned to Newark and became a home television installer before joining his family’s business, Cooper’s Luncheonette, on Bergen Street.

He married Elynor Diamond in 1949. The couple lived in Newark, Hillside, West Orange, and East Brunswick, and had four children: Warren, Amy, Jeffrey, and Cheryl. Jeffrey died in infancy.

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In 1960, Jack opened the first of five Jewish-style delicatessen restaurants. The first, in the Pleasantdale section of West Orange, was followed by Jack Cooper’s Broadway Delicatessen in East Brunswick, Jack Cooper’s Celebrity Deli in Edison, Jack Cooper’s 10-Speed Deli in South Plainfield, and a second Jack Cooper’s Celebrity in Warren.

Jack and his family operated Celebrity Deli in Edison from 1975 until 2003. The culinary landmark won acclaim from food critics as well as customers — most of whom considered Jack a personal friend. Jack’s passionate commitment to quality and service led readers of New Jersey Monthly Magazine to vote the restaurant “Best Deli” in Central New Jersey every year from 1995 until 2001, when the category was eliminated.

Jack was a long-time member of B’nai Shalom of East Brunswick.

Following Elynor’s death in 1983, Jack married Dolores Delicato of Woodbridge in 1985. The two made their home in North Brunswick, later moving to the Iselin section of Woodbridge and to Rahway. In 2013, they moved to the Veterans Home. Dolores died in 2014.

Jack was an avid reader of biographies, mysteries, and thrillers, and enjoyed deep sea fishing, Atlantic City casinos, and travel, particularly ocean cruises. A voyage to Alaska with a side trip to a glacier was one he particularly liked and spoke of often.

Jack will be remembered for his quick wit, his warmth, and his generosity of spirit. He was highly regarded by food professionals and his customers, as well as by his many friends. He always greeted people enthusiastically, was quick to find reasons to compliment them, and always made time to share a kind word about them with others.

Jack’s brothers, Mickey and Arnold, died previously, as did his step-son Louis (Pepe) Medieros.

Jack is survived by: his children, Warren Cooper and his wife Bonnie Pariser of Frenchtown, Amy Tunison and her husband Jack of Monmouth Junction, Cheryl Schickler and her husband Howard of Springfield; grandchildren, Ria, Max, Ellie, Ross, Melanie; step-children Dominick Delicato and Dawn Rinaldi; step-grandchildren, Nicole, Dominick, Stephen and Salvatore, Zachary and Dominique; many nieces and nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews.

Funeral services were held at 12 p.m. on Tuesday, from Flynn and Son / Koyen Funeral Home, 319 Amboy Ave., Metuchen. Interment will be in Beth Israel Cemetery, Woodbridge. Shiva will be observed Tuesday through Thursday, July 14 to 16, at the Schickler residence, 23 Vista Way, Springfield, from the hours of 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Minyon services each evening are at the residence at 7:30 p.m.. Donations in Jack's honor can be made to the Jewish War Veterans at www.JWV.org

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