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Remembering former TCC Board member, MLK winner Coppage

Former Tidewater Community College Board member Samuel Coppage died March 9 at Sentara General Hospital in Norfolk. He was 65.

Coppage, an associate professor of information technology and decision sciences at Old Dominion University since 1983, represented the City of Norfolk on the College Board from 2003 until 2011 and is a former recipient of the college’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Award. Curt Aasen, TCC’s director of institutional effectiveness, shared fond recollections of Coppage, whom he first met at Old Dominion. Aasen was a graduate research assistant in the master’s program in the 1990s and spent one summer working for Coppage. “Sam was someone who was so friendly,” Aasen said. “He’d take the time to talk to you and answer your questions. He was an educator, and he showed it in the way he dealt with his assistants.”

Aasen later connected with Coppage on the College Board at TCC. “I always felt at ease talking with him; he remembered me,” Aasen said. “He will be missed.”

Coppage was a member of the board’s Curriculum and Student Development Committee for five years and the Advocacy and Advancement Committee for two, chairing both, and playing a critical role in advising the college through a period of unprecedented enrollment growth and expansion.

According to a TCC Resolution awarded in Coppage’s honor upon the completion of his service to TCC, he “kept an especially close watch on the college’s ‘shared vision’ with the City of Norfolk, which included the establishment of the Joseph N. Green, Jr. District Administration Building – the college’s ‘corporate headquarters’ – and the Norfolk Campus Student Center.” In addition, he held particular interest in the college’s relationships with the Norfolk Public Schools and Old Dominion.

The son of civil rights activist Samuel Coppage Sr., the younger Coppage received a 2009 Martin Luther King, Jr. Award from TCC for his efforts to preserve his father’s papers, which document his civic and professional activities in Norfolk from the 1920s until the 1970s. The papers are part of the Virginia Black History Archives at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Coppage was also a member of the Broad Creek Civic League, where he served as a liaison with the federally-funded Hope VI Project. He also served as a governing board member of the Feldman Chamber Music Society, the Tidewater AIDS Task Force and the Norfolk Sister City Association. He was one of the first life-members of the Youth Branch of the NAACP.