Turns out, you can come home again, and upon return, pour yourself into the community to make it even better. Greenville-born and Gower-raised Mark Cooter left as a teen to pursue college degrees and career goals. But after eight years in Atlanta, he and his wife decided it was time to circle back to the 864 with their young boys. “In 2000, we moved back for quality-of-life reasons,” the businessman reveals. “A lot of the quality-of-life benefits we all see are because of people who volunteered before us and volunteer now. It’s an honor to be part of that history contributing to the growth of our community.”
Moving boxes were still stacked in the hallway when the young father started accepting invitations to serve local nonprofit organizations. The Greenville Literacy Association and March of Dimes were two of the first to benefit from the CPA’s expertise, with the American Heart Association, Innovate Fund, and so many others following. “Volunteering was modeled through my parents,” the fifty-two-year-old reveals. “My father sat on a number of boards, including the Rotary Club and Greenville Transit Authority. My mother was heavily involved with the Junior League of Greenville and First Presbyterian Church. It was never a question.”
This type of dedication prompted Community Foundation of Greenville President Bob Morris to take note. “Mark is a selfless leader, who has a wide variety of interests that he supports,” explains Morris. “His efforts to recruit new donors has helped the Community Foundation exceed $100,000,000 in assets for the first time, which directly increases our ability to make grants in a wide variety of nonprofits.” Cooter is a partner with Cherry Bekaert LLP, and utilizes his financial skillset to chair the Community Foundation’s Development Committee. “He’s provided the expertise with our legal counsel, so we can accept gifts of real estate and closely held business interests, which gives us a broad reach to business owners in Greenville County.”
In receiving the Ruth Nicholson Award, Cooter is humbled, and concentrating on current projects. “It’s not just me. That’s what creates a great atmosphere in Greenville,” he shares. “We have a community spirit to get things done. You’ve got to give something back to keep the community thriving. You can’t sit back and take all the time. You’ve got to give to make sure we’re still thriving for future generations.”
Head of the Class
When deciding which nonprofits to assist, Cooter frequently relies upon heart. His mother passed from cancer in 2013, leading to positions with the Cancer Society of Greenville County and Hospice House of Greenville. One of his sons has dyslexia, which prompted his favorite project to date: reconstructing Camperdown Academy. “When my son first started there, the building had no windows, only one entrance. It was just so sad,” he recalls. “I stayed twelve years to see a major campaign through for a new building. To witness the transformation in the school and all it brings kids today? Now that’s the most rewarding.”
Mark Cooter Facts
- Cooter grew up water skiing on Lake Hartwell and looked into starting a ski team while attending Wake Forest . . . until he discovered they would compete against Clemson.
- The Eagle Scout once “camped out” for forty-eight hours for Rolling Stones tickets.
- While a student at JL Mann, Cooter thought he wanted to go into architecture. He reversed course after an internship with Jim Neal. He thanks Jim to this day for steering him down a different career path.
- The avid traveler has visited forty-five states. While trekking across Alaska, he and his wife flew to the top of a glacier and mushed sled dogs.
- After coaching his son’s childhood teams, they have surpassed him in skills, including golf. He’s a member at Greenville Country Club. “Oh, no! (laughing) I can’t disclose my handicap. Just say I’m a ‘social golfer.’”
Photography by Reel Video and Stills.