News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Tom Kopec

1943 - 2024

Tom Kopec passed away at the home that he built with his loving wife Kate Kopec on January 18. Tom was born in Irvington, New Jersey in 1943 to Stella and Chester Kopec, who were first generation Polish immigrants. Tom was always proud of his Jersey roots and his Polish heritage. Tom grew up attending Catholic school where he enjoyed testing the nun's faith and commitment on a daily basis.

Tom migrated to the West Coast in his 20s, and lived/worked in Southern California working a variety of jobs, including a sales rep for the developing tech industry in the early 80s. He moved to Sisters in 1991, working at the Conklin Guest House, serving a variety of guests, partnering with Frank and Marie Conklin, and becoming a fixture in the community.

This is where he met his future wife, Kate, who went to the Conklin's Guest House on a visit to Sisters.

After meeting Kate, a year and a half later the two of them were married. Tom joined his wife and her family in the Portland area. He worked as a tech recruiter in downtown Portland, and eventually started his own business as a recruiter for many years.

Tom inherited an immediate family with Kate's son, Nick Sundstrom, and daughter, Jennifer Thomas, and their spouses. Eventually, Tom became "Grandpa Tom." Grandpa Tom was a huge fan of his local grandkids, Malachy, Gracen, and Lilly Sundstrom. He was also involved and active with Jennifer's children, Zach Edwards and McKenzie Thomas. Throughout Tom and Kate's relationship, he called Kate "Shotz" or "Shotzie." How this came about is up for debate, but it was a loving way to communicate his care and dedication to Kate.

It was always Tom and Kate's dream to return to Sisters. They were able to find a lot and build their dream house in 2008. They lived a mostly retired life by becoming involved in many local groups and activities. Tom became involved with the local Kiwanis, a Sisters RV group, St. Edward Catholic Church, and his beloved pickleball group. If you didn't know, Tom was very active and loved this newfound sport. Being nicknamed "stay-back Tom", because of his desire to whack away from the baseline, and not move up to the net. He carried his paddle with him in his truck with the hopes of improving his game and being a part of the activity.

Tom fought a valiant and long battle with prostate cancer. Throughout this process he kept his sense of humor, love for his wife, passion for pickleball, and willingness to express his opinion on various topics related to the Sisters community. He became more active in his faith, regularly attending the Catholic church and formed a strong relationship with Father Sibi.

Tom's life has been characterized by highs and lows, being a unique character with his East Coast thoughts and opinions. His family will miss his retelling jokes that the first time were funny, the 17th time were not so funny. His family loved him even if he started an 18th re-telling of the same joke or story. Husband, Grandpa Tom, friend, Catholic parishioner, and pickleball player, he will be missed by those who knew him.


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