Harry B. Cooper, a certified public accountant and president of Cooper's Camera Mart, died yesterday of kidney failure at Sinai Hospital. He was 85 and lived in Northwest Baltimore.
Mr. Cooper and his brother, Ben Cooper, a lawyer who died in 1991, started the company on Harford Road in Northeast Baltimore in 1946. A second store opened recently in Green Spring Station.
"I will miss him as a friend," Edward Ritz, chairman of the board of Ritz Camera Centers, said yesterday of Harry Cooper. Mr. Ritz described Mr. Cooper as a "competitor I admired, a good competitor, a promoter of photography who was well-respected in the industry."
Mr. Ritz described the Cooper shops as "a credit to the industry."
Mr. Cooper, in a 1990 memoir, said of his work, "I did the advertising, bought the products, paid the bills, never missing a discount and handled the finances. I could concentrate on these responsibilities because Ben did so well building the store's image and excellent customer policies."
Carroll Conway, assistant manager of the Harford Road store, said Harry Cooper had a good sense of humor and a good spirit. He said Harry Cooper would tell customers, who were curious about rarely seeing him behind the counter where Ben was a fixture, that he and his brother were like the two men in a circus act in a horse costume, with Ben as the front end.
Ben Cooper, according to Mr. Conway, described Harry Cooper as "a born merchant."
Mr. Conway had been a customer of the store for 20 years, and then an employee for nearly 30 years now.
He said Harry Cooper was "one of the most ethical people that can be imagined in his relationships with both customers and employees."
Born in Baltimore, Harry Cooper was a 1927 graduate of Forest Park High School and a 1934 graduate of the Johns Hopkins University, where he studied accounting at night.
As a newspaper boy, he learned the importance of being first by hawking extras. At 13, he managed seven concession stands in Druid Hill Park, making $25 a week and turning $5,000 a week over to the owner.
While in college, he was credit and sales manager of the Hanover Shirt Co.
In 1944, he began his own practice as a certified public accountant and remained active in that field until 1985.
For nearly 30 years, he wrote a weekly column, "Out of the Barrel, for Photo Trade News. He was a member of the Photographic Research Association and received the 1991 Distinguished Service Award of the Photo Marketing Association.
Services were to be held at 9 a.m. today at Sol Levinson & Bros. Inc., 6010 Reisterstown Road.
He is survived by his wife, the former Hilda Sokolsky; two sons, Stephen Cooper of Baltimore and George Cooper of New York; three grandchildren; and a great-grandson.