Eldon Anthony Bernette Kopel, 95, of Spencer, IA, died Thursday evening September 15, 2022 in the presence of his family. He was the best son, brother, father, grandfather, uncle, friend and neighbor one could ever hope to have.
Eldon was born February 17, 1927, in Haverhill, Iowa, the eldest of the eight children of Wilbert Anthony and Celestine Margaret (Neuroth) Kopel. He attended St Joseph's School in Haverhill, then transferred to and graduated from St. Mary’s High School in Marshalltown, IA in 1944.
Eldon helped his father work the family farm and farmed on his own until he entered the service. He did statistical analysis at the Second US Army headquarters near Washington DC during the Korean War. After his discharge he returned home and entered the University of Iowa, graduating with a BA in Economics.
In June 1958 he met Teresa Rohner at the Newman Center in Iowa City, and they married on December 27, 1958. Eldon and Terri raised seven children, and his family was always his first love and priority. He taught his family his values of thrift, hard work, paying your bills, helping others and loving your neighbor.
Not long after graduating, he took a civil service test. He was offered three positions and chose a job with the Social Security Administration in November 1960. He trained in Des Moines, IA, and his first position was in Ft. Dodge. Promotions led him to offices in Creston IA, Hutchinson KS and Hannibal MO before settling in as the manager of the branch office in Spencer IA. After a very successful career with SSA, he retired after 34 years and 2 months on January 3, 1995.
After retiring in 1995, he opened the Eldon Kopel Insurance office, and retired from that at the age of 88. Over the years, he worked a variety of part-time jobs to supplement the family income and gain Social Security coverage, in addition to his civil service. Those jobs included owning a Dairy Sweet in Creston. He later ran a vending machine business and worked weekend evenings as a desk Clerk at the Tangney Hotel. He believed in education, and in addition to his BA he studied to become an insurance agent and studied nursing home administration.
Eldon was always active in the community. His Catholic faith was very important to him, and he was a member of Sacred Heart Parish and Knights of Columbus, He was a member of Golden K Kiwanis and served as a Boy Scout leader. He served on the Spencer Civil Service Commission, the Clay County Veterans Affairs Commission and as a board member of the Sunshine Center in Spencer. In 1996 he ran for Clay County Supervisor. He volunteered at the Senior Center and volunteered doing tax returns for thousands of people over the years. He was a member of the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) and the National Association of Retired Federal Employees.
In the little free time he had left after working and raising a family, he loved to read the paper and follow current events. He attended all his children’s and grandchildren’s games, plays and concerts. He was a lifelong Iowa Hawkeyes and Chicago Cubs fan and loved to watch their games. Always a farmer in spirit, he gardened and loved a drive in the country to check on the crops.
He is survived by his wife, Teresa Magdalena; daughters Teresa Kopel (Tom Smith), Cecilia Magalhaes (Mariano), Barbara Abney (Andrew) and Joni Cole (Jeff); sons Dan Kopel (Debbie) and David Kopel (Claudia); sisters Dorothy Atkinson, Sr Jeannette Kopel, Isabel Kasel (Dick), and Kathy Carruthers (John); brother James Kopel; grandchildren Heather DuBois (Jared Grow), Missy Roland (David), Chris Kopel (Maddie), Nikki Kopel, Anthony James (AJ) Kopel, Gabriela Magalhaes (Isaac Medina), Juliana (Mina) Magalhaes-Corteletti (Bruno), Sofia Magalhaes, Anna Miller (Eric), and Ethan Abney (Grace); great-grandchildren Trevor Streuli (Chelsea), Kaelob Streuli, Tanner Orwig (Mallory), Alexis Roland, Julian Miller, and Oliver Abney; and great-great-grandchildren Kash Glienke, Kacyn Streuli, and Hunter Orwig; and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Wilbert and Celestine Kopel; sisters Luella Lundgren and Sr. Barbara Kopel; brothers-in-law Loren Lundgren and Glenn Atkinson; sister-in-law Harlene Kopel; nephews Greg and Tim Lundgren; and daughter Marie Kopel.
*Memorial contributions may be sent to Sacred Heart church in Spencer or the Wounded Warrior Project at https://support.wounded.
Here is the livestream link for the Memorial services at the church for Eldon Kopel
Visitation will take place Monday, September 19, starting at 5:00 P.M., with family present from 5-7:00 P.M. at Warner Funeral Home in Spencer.
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