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updated 07/09/1979 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/09/1979 01:00AM

Howard R. Cooper, 20, maintains an almost straight-A average at Princeton while managing an art supply store. But what is truly amazing is that he has been expanding the family business since he took over as a 12-year-old seventh grader and in the process put his two older brothers through Princeton. Howard, the youngest of four, found himself in charge of the Lou Cooper Art Supply Store in Tinton Falls, N.J. after his father died of a heart attack in 1971. His older brothers were in their freshman and junior years; his sister was beginning her career as a nuclear medicine technician. Howard decided to try running the business. "Once employees realized my mother was taking orders from me," he recalls, "they figured they should too." At first it was hard for the inexperienced adolescent. "I knew nothing about invoices or freight, and salesmen would come knowing they could bluff me," he admits. But he learned quickly ("At 15, I was going to sales conventions"). In just eight years Cooper has increased the staff from three to 15 and turned the shop into one of the most complete art supplies and crafts stores in the Northeast. Howard has been offered several intriguing jobs, but remains loyal to the store. "Expansion is on my mind. Besides," he grins, "I've been my own boss since I was 12, and I don't ever intend to work for someone else."

Julie Bentz Fitzpatrick, 24, is the No. 1 woman college pool player in the U.S. This spring the unassuming 5'5½" blonde won the Big Ten pocket billiards championship at Purdue University and became the first two-time winner of Pabst's Intercollegiate Billiards Championship. For the once shy Julie, the cue has become a magic wand. Among other things, it introduced her to her husband, Jim, 30, now a conductor on the Chicago and North Western Railroad. Six years ago he invited her to play in a couples tournament. "We finished second on our first date," coos the bride of five months. Julie, the eldest of four and daughter of a Verona, Wis. sales manager and a Red Cross nurse, even found her career through billiards. After dropping out of the University of Wisconsin in 1973, she caromed off a series of jobs, ranging from short order cook and bookkeeper to a brief hitch in the Air Force. But in 1975, while coaching youngsters in the game, she discovered her real talent for teaching and re-enrolled at Wisconsin, where she graduated in June with a B.S. in elementary education. For Julie, pool has only two drawbacks. Winnings are minuscule (top money for a woman is $2,400), and there aren't enough female competitors. "It's a shame," she says. "Once they try it, women like it more than bowling. And they don't have to carry a heavy ball around or wear ugly shoes."

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