Matthew L. Cooper |

Matthew L. Cooper

Matthew L. Cooper, a well-known plastic surgeon from San Diego and South Lake Tahoe, died of pancreatic cancer at San Diego Hospice on Sept. 4. He was 50.

A celebration of Dr. Cooper’s life for family and friends will take place Saturday at 1 p.m. at Sierra Community Church, 1165 Sierra Blvd. in South Lake Tahoe.

He is survived by his mother, Pearl, of Seal Beach, Calif., brother Monte of Great Falls, Mont., and sister Elizabeth of Healdsburg, Calif.

Dr. Cooper married Jacque Foltyn of San Diego in 1975 and Sheila Gaughan of San Diego in 1993.

He was born Jan. 15, 1955, in Long Beach, Calif., to Milton and Pearl Cooper and graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1977. He continued his medical career with an M.D. from UCSD in 1985, a general surgery residency in 1988, an NIH Research Fellowship from 1988-1990, and as a Burn Fellow Instructor in 1991. He completed his residency in plastic and reconstructive surgery in 1993. He received his board certification in plastic surgery in 1996 and continued to teach at UCSD Medical Center until 1998, when he established a private practice at South Lake Tahoe and Carson City.

Dr. Cooper’s numerous honors, awards and speaking engagements are, in spite of his shortened career, too numerous to mention. His research and work in wound healing and burn management earned him national recognition within the medical community. He was especially proud of his work with UCSD INTERFACE, where he was the leader of multiple plastic surgery teams treating deformities in Mexico, predominately on children. He was also honored to be the host of Health FAQ’s, an ABC interview show on health and issues in medicine, which aired for 150 shows in Northern Nevada and California.

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To his friends and family, Dr. Cooper was so much more than an accomplished surgeon and contributor to the medical community. He was a caring and loving man who cherished his friendships and touched everyone he met with his wry humor and warm smile. He was an accomplished skier, but he also loved the ocean. Sailing, surfing and running on the beach were favorite pursuits. He had begun to bike and was training for triathlons before his illness. Dr. Cooper’s life has been prematurely taken, but he will be remembered by his friends and loved ones as a man of compassion, a man of character, and simply as a man worth knowing.

The family suggests donations in memory of Dr. Cooper be sent to Barton Hospice, 2092 Lake Tahoe Blvd., Suite 200, South Lake Tahoe, CA 95150 or INTERFACE, 4907 Morena Blvd., Suite 1412 San Diego, CA 92117.