John “Jack” Kopp


By Julie Kerns Garmendia
Resident Community News

Not many 90-year-olds are able to celebrate that milestone birthday with co-workers on the job, but St. Vincent’s volunteer John “Jack” Kopp recently did just that.
Kopp first retired to Sarasota in 1980 after working in the family manufacturing business, Kopp Clay Company in Ohio. The company was founded in 1919 and manufactures flue linings for chimneys. After many years in Sarasota, Kopp moved to Ortega in 2003 to be near his daughter Marme Kopp, her husband Mike Nolan and grandson Gannon, 12 ,who live in Avondale.
“I started volunteering at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in the gift shop as cashier and served as treasurer and president of their auxiliary. I computerized the gift shop and worked almost fulltime,” he said. “Even before I moved to Jacksonville I walked into St. Vincent’s to volunteer and also volunteered at the Mayo Clinic. I’ve worked at St. Vincent’s gift shop and as a liaison between the staff and families of patients waiting outside the Coronary Care Unit.”
Phyllis Benitez, St. Vincent’s Riverside volunteer coordinator, said Kopp is beloved by the hospital staff and has been a fixture there for years. He has logged a total of 30,686 volunteer hours.
“Jack has served in a variety of jobs, wherever needed,” Benitez said. “He is always so cheerful and happy and has given so much to our staff and families of patients.”
Kopp has lived a full life, and an important part of it has been his lifelong love of travel, the arts and live theatre. He used to regularly fly to New York City to see the broadway plays, and attended concerts wherever and whenever he could. He continues to enjoy attending performances at the Alhambra Dinner Theatre and at Players By the Sea (where he also has volunteered).  He enjoys playing card games with his companion/cook/driver, David Shaffer. The two men share a dry wit, non-stop sense of humor and spar like comedians; they obviously enjoy every day to the fullest.
“We like to play Cribbage, Kings, Gin Rummy and Dominoes, although David usually beats me! (not true at all according to David),” Kopp said.
There are several beautiful large decorative rugs in Kopp’s home and therein lies one of his other, more unusual and artistic interests. Kopp learned to make latch hook rugs when his sister-in-law got him a simple starter latch hook kit during a particularly stressful time in his life. That simple kit started a hobby that has yielded over 100 rugs and brought him great satisfaction and relaxation.
“I only keep a few of them and the rest I give away,” Kopp said.”
Kopp may have celebrated his 90th birthday but he sees no reason to slow down or stop the activities he loves and that includes volunteering.
“I’m going to make it to my 100th birthday and St. Vincent’s is going to have to throw me another big party because I intend to be right over there still volunteering,” Kopp said. “I think anybody can volunteer and live a good long life if they don’t drink or smoke. Just go to church and you will have a great life.”

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