The Revitalizers

A Couple with a Dream Remake a Downtown

Story and Photos by Dean Worbois

The first time I saw Dennis and Sandy Cooper, they were hustling in and out of a large metal barn off Hop Road in Sand Hollow, about thirteen miles north of Caldwell. The barn had no room for the trailer parked outside its large door because, with the exception of two small paths, every inch was filled to shoulder height with boxes, steamer trunks, furniture, and many other items that had belonged to my late friend Rod Simpson, who had insisted, “Someone will want this.” Everything was covered with thirty years’ worth of Idaho farmland dust.

Dennis and Sandy were not at all concerned with the dust as they carried the ancient cardboard boxes from barn to trailer. They seemed delighted to haul the heavy containers and secure them so the cargo would arrive safely in Weiser. There was no inspecting what was valuable and what was not. They were taking it all, and I was glad to jump in and help move a tiny corner of Rod’s extensive collections (see “A Final Toast,” IDAHO magazine, January 2021).

It turns out the Coopers have always worked with such enthusiasm, and Weiser is all the better for it. Besides running a farm, Dennis spent a career working for the city, retiring as the “evil” building inspector. He also has long been involved with musical jams throughout the region. Sandy not only ran Dennis and the farm, but took on the all-consuming job of executive director of the National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest and Festival, held the third week each June. I guess caring for a husband, kids, and animals left plenty of time for more.

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Dean Worbois

About Dean Worbois

Dean Worbois spent ten years pursuing an acting career and hitchhiking around the country during the 1960s before earning a degree from Boise State University. He taught stained glass at Boise State, wrote several books and pamphlets on historical subjects, and has contributed to IDAHO magazine over the years. He produced a weekly half-hour television show on Boise’s public access channel, TVCTV, and has a blog of stories from his life at

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