Judge G. Thomas Cooper, Jr. was born on November 2, 1940. His parents were the late Gafford Thomas Cooper and Mildred Sarah Gilchrist Daily Cooper. His father was an accountant with the DuPont Company and moved his family to Camden, South Carolina in 1949.
He attended Camden public schools an received his Bachelor of Science degree from Clemson University in 1963. While at Clemson he served as a High Court Attorney, was president of his fraternity and played on the Clemson tennis team. He graduated from the George Washington University Law School in 1966 and worked for both Congressmen Robert W. Hemphill (later U.S. District Court Judge) and Tom S. Gettys from the 5th Congressional District as a legislative assistant during his time in Washington.
Upon his return to South Carolina he joined in a law firm partnership with John C. West who later left the firm to serve a term as Governor. He rejoined Governor West in 1974 and continued in practice for several years. Since 1977 he has been in private practice. He served as Assistant Solicitor for the 5th Judicial Circuit from 1970 to 1974, and Probate Judge for Commitments from 1975 to 1978. He was an elected member of the Kershaw County Council from 1990 to 2000.
In 1980 he started an active arbitration and mediation practice dealing primarily with construction matters. He served on the American Arbitration Association Panel of Neutrals from 1980 to 2000 and the National Arbitration Training Faculty from 1996 to 2000. He is a Certified Arbitrator/Mediator and a past member of the South Carolina Council on Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution.
On May 24, 2000 he was elected as Resident Circuit Judge for the 5th Judicial Circuit by the South Carolina General Assembly to serve the unexpired term of Costa M. Pleicones, who had been elected to serve as an Associate Justice on the South Carolina Supreme Court.
He is admitted to practice law in all South Carolina Courts, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, the United States Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court.
He is a past member of the Camden Rotary Club, a Paul Harris Fellow, served on the Board of Associated Charities, the South Carolina National Bank Advisory Board, and served as President of the Congaree Land Trust. He is a member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Camden.
He is married to Hope Howell Cooper. He and his wife have six daughters – Sloane Cooper Ellis, Sarah Riley Cooper, Patricia Cooper Butler, Hope Boykin Langley, Martha Coachman Boykin and Lisa Boykin Adams. The Coopers have 7 grandchildren.