Sam Kooperman 1947-2021
BEACHWOOD — Sam Kooperman, a pillar of the Youngstown Area Jewish Community, passed away peacefully in his sleep Tuesday, April 27, 2021, at his home in Beachwood, at the age of 74.
Sam was born Jan. 21, 1947, at Foehrenwald, a displaced persons camp established following the conclusion of World War II in Bavaria, Germany, to his holocaust surviving parents, Jacob and Rosa Kooperman. When Sam was 4, his mother, father and younger sister (Dora) immigrated to the United States. They settled in Sioux City, Iowa to live with Jacob’s brother (Boris) and sister-in-law (Donia) Kuperman, who were the family’s only known surviving relatives.
Sam grew up in Sioux City, attending Woodrow Wilson Middle School and graduating from Central High School. Sam attended the University of Iowa earning a B.A. in history and a master’s degree in student personnel. During college, Sam became active at Hillel on campus, which culminated with Sam serving as the University of Iowa’s representative for the American Zionist Youth Foundation during the 1971-1972 school year, as well as its representative to attend the foundation’s annual seminar in Israel — which would be the first of 28 trips Sam made to Israel during his lifetime.
After graduating from Iowa, Sam moved to Youngstown to accept a position as the youth director at the Youngstown Jewish Community Center in 1973. Sam was promoted to the campaign chair position in 1978 and obtained a master’s degree in social work from the Wurzweiler School at Yeshiva University in New York later that year. In 1984, Sam started a new position as the executive vice president of the Jewish Community Center, which he held for 31 years until his retirement in 2014.
Sam was a pioneer in the Youngstown Jewish Community who devoted over 40 years of his life to the betterment of the Jewish community in the Youngstown area and many other charitable causes. He was honored by Israel Bonds in 1994 and received the B’nai B’rith Guardian of the Menorah honor in 2002. He served on the board of directors of Mercy Health, Mahoning Homeless Coalition, Hospice of the Valley, Temple El Emeth and the Youngstown Symphony. Sam also served as an advisor for the Thomases Family Endowment of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation, with which he had been involved with since its inception.
Sam was a sports enthusiast, Cleveland Indians fan, lover of golf and passionate about playing poker with his regular group of close friends over the years. He was never shy about his fondness for betting on sports or visiting casinos in the comfort of his signature zip-up track suit. Trips included regular excursions to Las Vegas to stay at his beloved Desert Inn (where all the dealers knew him by name) while his son Brian was attending Arizona State University.
Sam will be remembered for his work ethic, dedication to his family and his enthusiasm to provide the less fortunate a path toward improving their lives. Sam was a connoisseur of Youngstown Jewish geography who talked to everyone about everything. He was generous, compassionate, congenial, selfless and had an infectious personality. To put it simply, Sam was a mensch.
Sam is survived by his wife, Kathy; his son and daughter-in-law, Brian and Cory Kooperman; his daughter and son-in-law, Nya and Joe Dreyfuss; his son, David Aron; his grandchildren, Sophia and Mara Kooperman; his sister and brother-in-law, Dora and Len Shefren; his special mother-in-law, Florence Mirkin; and his loyal dog, George, who never left his side.
He was preceded in his death by his first wife, Suzie Mirkin Kooperman; and his parents, Jacob and Rosa Kooperman.
The family will receive friends for condolences 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, April 30, 2021, at the Shriver-Allison Funeral Home in Youngstown, followed by a graveside funeral at Tempe El Emeth’s Anshe Emeth Cemetery on Granada Avenue.
Donations can be made to The Sam Kooperman Endowment of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation. More information can be found at www.yajfoundation.org/endowmentapps#kooperman.
Arrangements are being handled by Shriver-Allison-Courtley-Weller-King Funeral Home. Friends and family may view this obituary and share memories and their condolences at www.shriverallison courtleyfuneralhome.com.