Michele Cooper

Michele Cooper

Following an undistinguished high school career, I began to blossom at U of I, where I studied to be a French teacher. (How many other options were open to girls in those days?)

But luck and/or fate intervened – on several occasions.

After spending time in France, including a stint with ABC Sports at the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, I wound up two months later back in the States, working for ABC News in New York as Science Editor Jules Bergman’s researcher. It all seemed very glamorous: trips to Cape Canaveral (Kennedy) for the Apollo space shots, to Houston for Mission Control and to Los Angeles to learn as much as I could about the lunar module from North American Rockwell. Then NPACT, the PBS public affairs arm, in Washington where I joined the early coverage of the Watergate affair.

Despite the undeniable fun and excitement of television, the superficiality of TV news left me unsatisfied. As France continued to call, I quit my job and moved in 1973 to what was to become my home for the rest of my life. Being in the right place at the right time, I was offered a position at Agence France-Presse (AFP), the Paris-based international wire service, where my later assignments ranged from Director of English-language Services to Bureau Chief and Regional Director based successively in Singapore, Hong Kong, Washington and Bangkok. Coverage highlights included coups in the Philippines, Thailand and Cambodia, assorted economic and financial crises and profound changes to political systems and alliances in the Asia-Pacific region.

Fascinating and fulfilling work, as well as the many friendships forged through shared experiences, perhaps explain why I never felt the need to marry and “settle down”.

Now retired, I’m living in the south of France and still travel regularly to Southeast Asia, my second home.

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