Sunday, February 26, 2017
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM EST
Life Story Funeral Homes - Rupert, Durham, Marshall & Gren
409 South Main Street
Vicksburg, MI 49097
Monday, February 27, 2017
11:00 AM to 12:00 PM EST
Vicksburg United Methodist Church
217 South Main Street
Vicksburg, MI 49097
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Vicksburg Rotary Charities
P.O Box 141
Vicksburg, MI 49097
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
A longtime resident of the community he loved, Richard Coppes was the sort of person who would do whatever he could for others. In everything he did, he gave it his all, and his strong work ethic was easy to see. Dick was a devoted family man, and together he and his true love experienced so many of the best things that life has to offer. Always ready with a warm smile, he was well respected by all who knew him. Life will never be the same without Richard here, but he leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that his loved ones will forever cherish.
It was great to be an American during the 1920s. Innovation was fueling the way for advancements like radios, washing machines, and motion pictures available in both color and sound. Amidst this exciting time was the year 1925 when Hartsell and Vera Marie (Garner) Coppes were pleased to announce the birth of the baby boy they named Richard C. on June 25, 1925, in Fremont (Steuben County), Indiana. He was joined in his family by his older brother, Robert, and his younger brother, Russell, and grew up in the small town of Fremont, which was very similar to Vicksburg where he spent his later years. Richard’s mother was a school teacher while his father was a tenant farmer who farmed about 100 acres. Dick was raised in the Evangelical Church but also had a relationship with the Methodist Church that his friends attended.
Tragedy struck in Richard’s life when his mother died shortly after Russell was born when Dick was only 13 years old. Heavy medical and funeral bills necessitated moving the boys away from home. Richard went to live with his Aunt Eva and her husband, Leslie, in Galesburg, Michigan. They were tenant farmers in Galesburg, farming cows and 20 acres of Chippewa potatoes for Be-Mo Potato Chip Company. Richard earned $25 a month plus his room and board. From April to September, he worked the farm with his Uncle Leslie. As a student at Fremont High School, Dick was involved in music, chorus, baseball, and basketball. During his senior year in high school his Fremont basketball team won the county championship beating Angola High School which was the first time Fremont beat Angola in 20 years.
After graduating in 1943, Richard continued working on the farm with his uncle. A bit later, he went to work for the neighbor, Clive Batey, and Richard later found a temporary job in Scotts as a general building laborer.
In 1944, Richard enlisted in the Navy. His first assignment was to mess cooking with much of his time spent cleaning, drying, and greasing 500 pie pans daily at the Philadelphia Naval Base. He was then shipped to Washington, D.C. where he learned to work with water soluble inks. There, he stayed at the YMCA near the White House for a few months. Richard then shipped to Virginia where he was stationed at a testing area, working with a four-man crew patrolling the Potomac River. He attained the rank of Seaman 2nd Class before being discharged in 1946. Richard then joined his father in Reading, Michigan.
Richard then moved back to the Kalamazoo area. Life was forever changed for Richard during this time when he met the woman of his dreams. Her name was Fredericka “Freddi” Jean Mastenbrook, and they met while out bowling one night. Richard was immediately smitten, and he asked if he could take her home. While on the ride he asked her to go steady, and she agreed. Always open to new things, Richard and some friends drove out to California where his brother, Robert, was living. Soon after getting settled, he received a phone call from Freddi, asking if she could come out so they could marry. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, Richard and Freddi were married on March 2, 1947, at the Chapel of the Flowers, near Berkley, California. They had no reception, but they went to the Hotel Clairmont to hear the UCLA band and celebrate. Richard soon began working at the Western Electric Warehouse, supplying Bell Telephone with equipment. He did so well he was offered an office job, but he declined to stay in the warehouse. In 1957 they returned to Michigan to care for aging family, setting in Kalamazoo with a family member for a short time.
Shortly thereafter, Richard accepted a position as a radio dispatcher at Consumers Power. He enjoyed his work despite working 24 hour shifts at times. They then moved again after Freddi got a job at Michigan Bell and then came to Austin Lake in Portage where they bought a home that used to be an old barracks at Fort Custer. Freddie was in charge of the exterior painting, which is how it became pink.
In 1966, Dick and Freddi bought an 80-90 acre farm in Vicksburg and raised cattle. He bought bull calves at the auction in Battle Creek. He and Freddi worked in concert buying calves, naming them, and keeping a book on each one, buying 50 calves per year. Each calf was bought to raise for one year and then sell when they reached 1200 pounds. Richard and Freddi then raised Red Duroc pigs. For a time they owned a Tennessee Walking horse named Gerry and a pony named Buddy, which were gifts from a co-worker of Richard’s. During the time there were cattle in the barnyard, they purchased various parcels totaling 400 acres around the house. Shortly after Richard’s retirement they had a farm sale, selling off much of the farm land. As of 2013 they still owned 25-30 acres, and Richard retired from Consumer’s Energy in 1987.
Throughout his life Dick was very involved in his community. He was invited to join in the annual fundraiser, “Vicksburg Rotary Showboat,” a minstrel show highlighting a male chorus comprised of local volunteer thespians. In 1974, Richard was invited to join the Vicksburg Rotary, and as of 2013 he was the seventh longest standing member. During his time there he was the president from 1983 through 1984 and was awarded the Paul Harris Fellow Award in 1996. In 2011, Dick was named the Vicksburg Rotary Club Hero for organizing and implementing the emergency haylift convoys to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula during the unprecedented drought in the early 1990s. That effort resulted in the survival of hundreds of cattle and farms in the UP. Richard was also a member of the Freemasons.
Friendly, outgoing, and kindhearted with a spirit of generosity that was unmatched, Richard Coppes was a blessing in the lives of countless others within his community and beyond. He was a hardworking man who was forever using his time and talents to help others in ways both great and small. Deeply loved, Dick will be forever missed.
Richard C. Coppes, of Vicksburg, passed away on Wednesday, February 22, 2017. Richard is survived by his wife of 69 years, Fredericka “Freddi,” and one brother, Russell Coppes, of TX. Richard was preceded in death by his brother, Robert Coppes. There will be a visitation on Sunday from 4 - 7 p.m. at the Life Story Funeral Home, 409 S. Main, Vicksburg, (269-649-1697). The funeral service will be held on Monday at 11 a.m. at the Vicksburg United Methodist Church. Richard will be buried with military honors at the Fort Custer National Cemetery. Please visit Richard’s webpage at www.lifestorynet.com where you can sign the guestbook and share a memory and/or photo. In lieu of flowers, please, make contributions in Richard’s memory to the Vicksburg Rotary Charities.