Cover photo for Tova Kopperud's Obituary
1937 Tova 2020

Tova Kopperud

October 1, 1937 — December 30, 2020

Some reminiscences of Tova and the life that lately she left..

On October 1, 1937, a Viking woman started life on this planet in Oslo, Norway. Throughout her life, she manifested the Viking Spirit of courage and “True Grit” in whatever she under took.

As a small child, she lived through the German occupation, five years. One of her recollections of that time was that she never saw a German soldier in uniform but figured it was because her parents protected her. She explained that Quisling’s first name was regarded as the equivalent of feces.

After the war, while in very modest financial circumstances, her mother somehow managed to give her many opportunities in training, including piano lessons, horseback riding, cross-country skiing and swimming. Her primary athletic activity and ambition was cross-country skiing, in which sport she excelled at due to extraordinary physique and athletic skill.

Later, a well to do uncle who Tova described as “The Norwegian Onassis” stepped in to help. After high school, she attended an exclusive girls school in Paris. Her father was a Francophile and that gave Tova a deep appreciation of all things French, even the Citroen automobile. In fact, years later, when the Citroen car club came to Amarillo, she served as a translator and greeter. Her father was also a fitness enthusiast and a great admirer of Tarzan (Johnny Weismuller). Whenever a Tarzan movie came to Oslo, the whole family had to attend. Tova had lots of encouragement in athletics and she had a lot to work with to that end.

Tova first came to the United States in 1959 and when one asked her why she immigrated, she replied “Freedom, of course!” She came thru Ellis Island, got married in the Seaman’s church and went on to live in Pittsburg, PA for several years where her first child, Tanya was born. She has a photo doing a handstand at 8 months pregnant.

After several years in the United States, job opportunities took them back to Europe where they lived in Sweden and Belgium. While in Belgium, Tova remembered having beer delivered to her doorstop like milk. Again, job opportunities for her husband, an Engineer decided the next move. They came over in a container ship because of the need to move their German Shepherd. Tova said it was first class with the dinner at the captains table every evening. Lots of room for dog walking on deck while onto Midland, MI where many wonderful friendships developed. Her husband worked as an Engineer with Dow Chemical. She recalled that one of the jokes about pollution around DOW was “the solution to pollution is dilution.” True Enough!

In Michigan, she participated in triathlons and coached cross-country skiing, and won all the local meets. After a divorce, she decided to go back to school and pursue a degree in Exercise Physiology from Northern Michigan University in Marquette, MI. After additional schooling in Florida, she moved to Amarillo where she taught Yoga and worked as a trainer at several clubs. One of her noteworthy events was running up Pikes Peak.

She met her second husband, Mark in a running event in Panhandle, TX. That led to an extended period of adventure with Aviation. They had an airplane, Bellanca. Tova thought it would be nice to see if she could organize a group of the Bellanca for social get together’s and “flyins” at various airports. Tova was very adaptable to flying and had a knack for navigation. The greatest contribution was videotaping aviation activities. Through aviation, she made friends all over the United States from Kennebunkport, ME to California often camping out next to the airplane wherever it landed. Mark and Tova did a “flyin” to Oshkosh, WI twice and camped while there. The airplane was big enough to carry camp gear, two mountain bikes and on a few occasions, two cats!

Tova made many friends during her time in aviation one of which resulted in a move to Beaver Island, Michigan where she lived for 3 years. The island was rich in history. It was hard to leave behind friendships but a door opened and the culmination of a great life, the birth of her only granddaughter, Darlene, the two moved back to Amarillo and adopted her as their own. Tova’s last ten years were handed down to Darlene. A natural Viking woman, learned to ski and took to it like any Norwegian would.

Tova enjoyed cross-country skiing, opera, musicals, cats, movies, reading, watching movies and painting. She let a wonderful life, full of adventure.

Her ashes will be spread into the wind in Norway.

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