Hundreds Mourn 'Upbeat' 9-Year-Old Killed by Taxi
UPPER WEST SIDE — Relatives, friends and neighbors assembled Monday at Riverside Memorial Chapel to remember Cooper Stock, a 9-year-old known for his humor, his ability to light up a room, his good nature and maturity beyond his years.
Cooper died Friday after he was hit by a taxi that was turning onto West End Avenue from West 97th Street. The boy was crossing the street with his father, Dr. Richard Stock, close to the family's home. The driver, Koffi Kolmani, was issued a summons for failing to yield to pedestrians, police said.
The midday memorial, which preceded a private burial at Mount Hope Cemetery in Hastings-on-Hudson, was so packed with mourners that the service spilled out onto the sidewalk. At least three dozen people stood and listened as speeches by family members were piped outside via loudspeakers.
Students from the nearby Calhoun School, where Cooper was a student, also turned out for the memorial service, which evoked both tears and laughter.
Family members painted a portrait of a loving young boy who adored his family and had a penchant for humor.
"Rich and Dana like to call Cooper 'goodie guy.' He was so special," said Matthew Stock, Cooper's uncle, of his parents' affection for their son.
Stock remembered cooking in the kitchen and talking with the precocious boy.
"It's like I was talking to an adult," said his uncle. "He was my buddy. I miss him."
Barron Lerner, a relative of Cooper's mother Dana, gave the eulogy, calling it both the "hardest and the easiest" eulogy to give, because there were so many people touched by Cooper, from the doormen of his building to his family and friends.
"He was a basketball player, a boxer and a fan of 80s music," said Lerner, noting that Cooper "had an amazing ability to get along with older kids."
The audience erupted in laughter when Lerner admitted that Cooper had "a great interest in nudity and a propensity for it," and that he had recently started developing an "inappropriate streak," in his humor and wasn't hiding it.
Cooper had memorized an impressive amount of basketball trivia, including the history of the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks, Lerner said.
Dana's obstetrician delivered Cooper face up, or "sunny side up," as her doctor said at the time, and that was how he lived, he said.
"This kid knew how to enjoy life and make others around him...love life more," he said.
In a letter written by his sister Gianna, 13, and read by Lerner, she noted that Cooper loved mustaches and said she'd always remember how he'd serenade their father, singing "your mustache is beautiful in every single way," to the tune of Christina Aguilera's hit "You Are Beautiful."
His sister focused on the little things that she loved about him, including his passion for fried chicken. She also noted his support of her volleyball team and said he'd be their mascot for this season.
A teammate, Simone, noted later that Cooper attended every single one of his sister's game and looked up to Gianna. "He was dedicated to his sister," said the teammate, who did not want to give her last name.
Cooper's father, Richard, 51, closed the service by remembering his favorite times with his son.
"You gave off light that everyone absorbed," he said, describing his laugh as "hysterical" and "euphoric" and stating that "I really have never met anyone who enjoyed laughing as much as you do."
The two were planning a trip to the family's country house this weekend, for just the two of them — a tradition they loved.
"There was nothing that brought you more pleasure than snuggling in my bed," his father recalled. The two would stay up late watching basketball together and eventually each would fall asleep in Richard's bed.
Stock had season tickets to the Knicks and said going to games together "was your greatest joy and mine as well."
Stock said he and his son "would cheer and high five each other," but then he noticed his son looking around because he realized, Cooper wanted "to share a high five and to share the love and joy," he experienced with other attendees.
Cooper had relatively recently developed a love of the singer Leonard Cohen and went to a Cohen concert with his dad. Instead of a typical fidgety 9-year-old, Stock found in his son a boy transfixed by the concert, he said.
"He was absorbed in the beauty of the music," and had a "big smile" when Cohen played his favorite song, "So Long, Marianne."
Stock said he cherished their time together and that "no one ever enjoyed being with me more than you did."
He said that before his son died, he pressed his cheek against his to take a piece of him with him.
Cooper's mother also described the boy as mature, noting in a remembrance read by Lerner that he "was so young but so sophisticated," and "relentlessly upbeat."
The service ended with the playing of "10 Years Gone," by Led Zeppelin.
Cooper's parents filed into a waiting limo for the burial, but stopped to hug and cry with friends and mourners.
In a statement issued by the family, they thanked the NYPD, the doctors and nurses at St. Luke's, friends, the wide community and passers-by, and said they could not feel anger towards the cab driver now, "who we know must be suffering too."
"It would help give some meaning to this senseless nightmare if it served as a reminder to people to drive extra carefully and give extra hugs to their children," the statement concluded.
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to Temple Beth Sholom in Hastings-on-Hudson.
Upper West Side City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, who attended the memorial service, said she is "in communication with the mayor's office and DOT now," about possible fixes to the intersection where Cooper was killed. She said she is also awaiting a full police investigation report from the 24th Precinct.