SALEM – Richard M. Coppock, age 81, passed at 3:00 p.m. Wednesday, February 4, 2020 at his home. He was born March 17, 1938 in the family home in Salem, son of the late Guy L. and Helen A. (Johnston) Coppock.
Richard was a 1956 graduate of Salem High School and valedictorian of his class. He entered the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1957, a member of only the third class to attend the young service academy and the first individual from Salem. Richard remembered fondly when, as a member of the Cadet Wing Staff, they led the Academy contingent in President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration parade.
Graduating in 1961, Dick was commissioned a second lieutenant with the aeronautical rating of navigator. Twenty-two years of active duty Air Force service followed with assignments in Arizona, Japan, Hawaii, California, Colorado, Thailand, New Mexico and Ohio. During his career, he logged over 8,000 flying hours, including some 1,990 over two combat tours during the Vietnam War. For actions during 440 combat missions, he was awarded four Distinguished Flying Crosses and 29 Air Medals. Retiring in 1983, his final assignment was Vice Commandant of the Ohio Valley Area of Air Force ROTC.
A second career began immediately when he was selected to become the first civilian to head the staff of the Association of Graduates (AOG) of the United States Air Force Academy, a nonprofit Colorado corporation headquartered on the Academy grounds. He retired in 1999 as President/CEO of the organization, having successfully directed alumni services, publishing, reunions, fundraising and investments. He took pride in his role of fundraising for and oversight of construction of Doolittle Hall, the AOG alumni house and headquarters of the association. Located on 13 leased acres of the Academy, the 35,000 square foot structure occupies a prominent place in daily activities and in the history of the association.
With assignments and careers mostly in the west and family mostly in the east, Dick and his wife, Trel became “road warriors”. Often with their children, they crossed the country multiple times a year to visit family and friends for reunions, funerals, births, weddings, graduations and just plain visits. Trel’s family in Texas and California also were recipients of a fair share of company arriving. His Trel, family near and far, classmates, friends, fellow crewmembers and 14 canine companions over his lifetime – Dick loved them all.
Dick had met Trel – Trelma Anne (Kubacak) Hafer – at Kirtland AFB, NM on June 7, 1973. They married in the chapel there on November 21, 1973, and he believed that the following nearly 41 years were the most wonderful in his entire life. She passed on September 9, 2014.
In addition to his cherished Trel, he was preceded in death by his parents, his brother, Donald (2012) and a granddaughter, Heather Palmer (2017).
Survivors include his son, James (Rita Mae) Coppock; two daughters, Lori Palmer and Carole (Sean) Sutton; five grandchildren; three great grandchildren; numerous cousins, nieces and nephews; sister-in-law, Jann Coppock; brother-in-law, Rick (Marilyn) Kabacak remain, as does his final and faithful companion, Shih Tzu pup Willie.
Cremation has occurred and burial at a future date will be at the USAF Academy Cemetery joining his beloved Trel.
He served, proudly…
Arrangements are being handled by Stark Memorial Funeral Home and Cremation Services.
To view Dick’s obituary or send condolences, visit www.starkmemorial.com.
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