ASHLAND — A man who walked naked through the city in May said he didn't mean to enter a school zone when children were present, but he isn't sorry he strolled elsewhere.

ASHLAND — A man who walked naked through the city in May said he didn't mean to enter a school zone when children were present, but he isn't sorry he strolled elsewhere.

Tony Cooper left Ashland in June, after spending about three weeks visiting, he said, and gained a bit of notoriety during his time in Ashland as the "naked man."

Cooper, a 66-year-old retired computer programmer, was not breaking any laws by wearing only tennis shoes, police said. However, his actions upset residents, leading some to call for a ban on public nudity.

Oregon does not have any laws restricting nudity, but the city requires people to cover their genitals in the downtown area and in parks.

Some parents and other community members were especially concerned after Cooper was spotted near Walker Elementary School on May 29 as children were walking home from school.

Cooper said he didn't realize he was near a school and didn't intend for the kids there to see him.

"That was my mistake," he said. "I messed up completely."

Still, Cooper thinks locals overreacted when they found out some children had seen him naked, because he's "not a pervert," he said.

"People in Ashland seem to be very paranoid about kids," he said. "I think they should all send their kids to a nudist resort or have naked day in Ashland where everyone is naked. Then all of those hang-ups would disappear."

Cooper, who often traveled to project sites as a computer programmer, has continued wandering the country since he retired last year, and will probably return to Ashland, he said on the phone from a hotel room in Laughlin, Nev., where he was staying to watch horseracing.

Cooper has been a nudist for decades and has lived at nudist resorts in California and Arizona, he said. Prior to coming to Ashland, he was staying in the Bay Area in order to participate in San Francisco's Bay to Breakers 12K race — which he ran naked, he said.

"To be able to walk down a street naked, it's exhilarating and I enjoy the freedom," he said. "Plus it's thoroughly amusing to get people's reactions."

In order to ease parents' concerns, Cooper said if he comes back to Ashland, he will consider limiting his naked escapades to after 10 p.m., when few children will be out, he said.

The nudist would like to return to the city to try to find someone special to walk around town naked with, he said.

"I think if I did it again, I would have a sign saying 'Wife Wanted,'" he said. "I'm looking for wife No. 4. If I get a new wife out of being naked in Ashland, that's probably a wife that's going to work out."

Hannah Guzik is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. She can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 226, or hguzik@dailytidings.com.