Charles Neal Koopman was born August 29, 1938, in Pleasantville, Iowa, the firstborn son of Neal and Ruby (Sinclair) Koopman.
He was raised in Knoxville, his father, a truck driver, his mother, a coal miner’s daughter from Monroe County. As a young boy, in the evenings, Charles helped his father change oil and service his truck. In the daytime, he rode along as his dad hauled coal from southern Iowa mines to customers in Des Moines. Times were hard. Days were long, for both men and women. The obligation to provide for a family and the work ethic to do so, was impressed upon Charles from the earliest age. To his father, and to his uncles, the Sinclair brothers, how hard a man worked, was the measure of that man. By age 10, Charles was mowing lawns; later he worked in the shoe department of a clothing store; helped his father when called upon, and, as the oldest, helped his mother Ruby look after his younger brothers, Larry and Max.
In search of opportunity, many of Charles’ extended family moved to California in the 1950’s. Mid-way through his senior year of high school, Charles’ parents, seeking a more favorable climate for his mother’s health challenges, followed suit. The move from small town Iowa to southern California came as something of a shock to Charles. He made the best of it, made some friends, had some adventures, and some misadventures, and stayed just long enough to receive his diploma with the Canoga Park High School class of 1956.
Upon graduating, Charles left his folks and younger brothers behind and moved back to Iowa on his own. He had something different in mind. Something better. Before his family had moved to California, Charles, this handsome young man from the wrong side of the river, had met a dark-haired beauty from Pella, by the name of Delores Eeling. And Charles was intent upon claiming her as his bride. That, he did. On August 23, 1957, Charles married the love of his life at the First Baptist Church in Pella. The newlyweds made their home in Knoxville. A year later, their first daughter Sherri Lynn was born, followed soon after by Lori Denise, two years after that, came Julie Ann.
True to form, Charles worked any number of jobs, for Sinclair Plumbing, Conoco Oil, Newman Construction and Rankin Roofing before going to work at Armstrong Tire and Rubber in Des Moines, where he would build truck tires for the next 30 years. Even while he worked at Armstrong, commuting 40 miles each way, he roofed houses on the side to support Delores and their growing family.
On December 7, 1962, tragedy struck. What all parents fear most. Daughter Lori, precious, two-year-old Lori, died after a brief, severe illness. Devastated, certainly, but by the grace of God, and sheer force of will, they rallied. They had to. In 1964, another baby girl, Christi Dee was born. In 1970, came their youngest, and only son, Charles Neal Koopman II.
By this time, the family had moved to a new home just northwest of Pella. The Koopman kids participated in almost every extracurricular activity Pella Community Schools afforded them and Charles and Delores were their biggest fans. The family enjoyed boating, camping, riding minibikes, made annual trips to California to visit family and traveled throughout the Midwest to go-cart races Charles competed in. He worked meticulously to build and tune these high-performance carts, capable of speeds well over 100 mph. Charles accumulated numerous trophies, and his children, a host of memories they treasure yet.
An outdoorsman, hunting and fishing were pursuits Charles enjoyed nearly his whole life. Early on, it meant putting meat on the table. Later, increasingly, it became about the camaraderie, be it a church fishing trip to Minnesota, a pheasant hunt with his dog Bo, trout fishing on Lake Taneycomo with his grandkids, or every December, deer hunting with the guys. Charles loved it and like everything else he took an interest in, he was good at it.
In 1988, Charles took early retirement from Armstrong and began roofing full-time. For the next 21 years he grew Koopman Roofing and Siding into a flourishing business. As his business grew, Charles hired a lot of young men. Some of them, students, worked for him summer after summer through high school or college. Others worked for him full-time. He taught them all a trade. To do the job and do it well. But more than that, by his example, they learned to do what you say you’re going to do. To do whatever you do, with honesty and integrity.
When Charles and Delores’ children had young families, each year, for nearly a decade, they vacationed together at Table Rock Lake in Missouri. For each and all, these trips stand out as the very richest of times. Swimming, boating, water skiing, fishing, amusement parks, meals together, bedtime stories…pure joy. Their children and grandchildren have continued that tradition with their families, each in their own way.
In retirement, Charles and Delores attended literally hundreds of their grandchildren’s birthday parties and athletic events. And later, their graduations, weddings, and baby showers. Regularly they traveled to visit friends and family all over the country. Justifiably proud of his and Delores’s beautiful home west of Pella, Charles planted fruit trees, pulled weeds, mulched flower beds, fertilized, and mowed their large lawn, moved snow, and fixed anything and everything that needed his attention. He helped his neighbors to do the same. As he got older, and getting around became more difficult, he spent less time hunting pheasants and more time searching out the best deals he could find. Whether it was super unleaded, chuck roast or canned peas…to the penny, from Cantril to Des Moines, Charles knew which station or store had the deal and how long it was good for. Among Charles’ many accomplishments, in the summer of 2020, he cornered the market on dark brown mulch. He no longer had the strength or a pickup truck to take delivery of all those tons of mulch. But the Lord provided both in his son-in-law Jeff and his F150. He enjoyed cooking, and like a lot of fellas, particularly enjoyed cooking meat. He deep fat fried fish, turkeys, and pheasants. He especially loved grilling and smoking meat, and almost as much, he enjoyed watching Youtube videos of others doing so. He loved sharing what he’d prepared. He and Delores were never happier than when their house was full of family and friends.
Charles Koopman was a family man. Devoted to his parents, his brothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins, but especially so to Delores, their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
Charles Koopman worked hard. Even in Pella, a community renowned for the industriousness of its people, Charles Koopman stood out as someone who knew how to work.
But to truly know the story that was Charles Koopman’s life, is to know of Charles’ life in Christ. At 22 years of age, Charles professed his faith, committed his life to The Lord and was baptized at the First Baptist Church in Pella. A simple man, not given to delve into abstract theological concepts, he prayed, read his Bible regularly, and endeavored to live out his faith. “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way.” It was Christ in Charles, “the hope of glory,” that over the years, patiently, tenderly healed his heart after the loss of Lori. It was Christ in him that led Charles to share his testimony and lead others to The Lord at Armstrong Tire. It was Christ to whom Charles prayed for months before deciding to retire from Armstrong Tire and start Koopman Roofing. Charles would chuckle, “I didn’t know the Lord was going to work me this hard after I retired.” Everything Charles did, everything he owned, was the Lord’s and he managed it accordingly. Steadily, year after year, as Charles grew “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” more and more, this tough, hard, even bitter young man, was transformed into a loving, patient, kind, generous, godly man. He loved the Lord, he loved others, and he did so in his very characteristic manner, with all his heart, all his soul, all his mind, and all his strength.
As he aged and the wear and tear of the years took their toll resulting in numerous surgeries and setbacks, seldom did his optimism flag. He was an inspiration to so many, just what it looked like to persevere in hardship. Despite the challenges before him, Charles planned to live…really live, right up until he died. Or as Charles often said, “When the Good Lord pulls my timecard.” He and Delores had a trip they were planning for this summer. Really, not a trip, more of an odyssey. To Tennessee, on down to Texas, west to Arizona, on to California, and up to Washington. At every stop, to visit family.
Two weeks before he died, Charles took ill. Despite his compromised heart and lungs, he battled valiantly. With his children around him, he called Delores to his side, asked for a kiss and said, “I love you.” In his last days, he repeatedly said, “I want to go home.” And he did just that. And what a homegoing it was! Home now, with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And so many others he loved and was loved by. His daughter Lori, mother and father Ruby and Neal, father and mother in-law Frank and Kay Eeling, brother Larry, brother-in-law Henry Schutte, nephews Jimmy and Ricky Koopman and Tony Schutte.
Saddened by his passing from this earthly life, but celebrating his life made new, and carrying on in The Faith, are, his wife of nearly 66 years, Delores Koopman.
And his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren:
Sherri and Alvin Ozinga
Amanda and Kevin Hetland
Lukas and Norah
Randy and Tanya Ozinga
Harper and Sutton
Julie and Chris Doehrmann
Jessica and Phil Myers
Cassie and Bryan Wallin
Adam and Jenn Doehrmann
Christi and Jeff Vander Voort
Jeffrey and Brooke Vander Voort
Jeffrey, Jane and Jonathan
Wyatt and Angela Vander Voort
William and Alexandra
Faith and Tommy Leander
Jack and Jacqueline Vander Voort
Charlie and Martha Koopman
Cooper, Claire, Christian and Caleb
His Brothers and Sisters-in-law:
Max and Joanne Koopman
Jerry and Pam Koopman
Dale Eeling and Kim
And numerous aunts, nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, coworkers, customers and so many others impacted by the life of this man. This good man.
Lake View Camp
P.O. Box 836, Pella IA 50219