May 8, 1935 – October 10, 2020
Robert (Bob) Stanley Cope, 85, of South Bend, Indiana passed away on the afternoon of Saturday, October 10th, 2020 at Memorial Hospital in South Bend.
Due to a much publicized incident involving mistaken identities of babies at the local hospital in Enid, Oklahoma in 1935 Bob’s mother Sarah Willmetta Dunworth-Cope and father Hesker (Mac) Lee Cope insisted that he be born at home. Bob spent the first years of his life in the shadow of the Dust Bowl in Enid with his parents and brother, Bill. During World War II, his father’s job in the oil industry brought them to Mason City, Iowa where Bob spent the rest of his childhood. In high school he developed the nickname “Woody” and nurtured what would become a lifelong love of music in the high school choir.
After attending one year of college at Iowa State, he relocated back to Enid, Oklahoma to be near his parents who had also relocated. In Enid he attended Phillips University and studied geology. In the late 50s Bob served in the U.S. Army spending time stationed in Fort Belvoir, Virginia and in Greenland where he did scientific research involving glaciers.
He returned to Oklahoma and began working with children in education, which would become his great lifetime passion. His daughter, Lesa, was born in 1965 and Bob would eventually teach high school science in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A chance encounter at All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa in the summer of 1971 led him to meet the person who would become the love of his life, Ann Cope (née Kelley). A movie date that involved a viewing of the film The Andromeda Strain and several cups of coffee developed into marriage on November 25th, 1971.
In 1972, Bob began graduate studies at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colorado where he specialized in educational psychology. During his studies he interned on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, which became a formative experience. He lived in Kansas City in the late 70s for several years before moving back to Colorado where his son Jonathan was born in 1979 and daughter Heather in 1981. There he would eventually settle in Denver and work as a school psychologist, a career that he would have until retirement.
In 1991 the family relocated to Plymouth, Indiana where Bob began working for the Joint Educational Services in Special Education (JESSE), a special education cooperative. At that time, Bob began attending the First Unitarian Church in South Bend, a congregation and community in which he remained involved for the rest of his life. Bob and Ann would eventually reside in the Sunnymede neighborhood of South Bend, Indiana. He would become an active part of the South Bend community. He was a regular at the YMCA and an avid tai chi class member. He was a Monday night regular at Fiddler’s Hearth for many years where he regaled patrons with stories of his life and family.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations, in Bob’s name, to Church World Service https://cwsglobal.org
He is survived by his wife, Ann Cope; three children, Lesa, Jonathan, and Heather; grandchildren, Marcus, Sarah, Winston, Nalo and Cecelia; Brother-in-law, Don and his wife Maggie; nieces, Lydia and Megan; and their spouses and children.
A virtual memorial service will be held with the time and date to be announced.