TPA 1972-73 president Coppedge dies

Monday, 13 December 2004

Don Coppedge, who served as TPA president from 1972-73, died Nov. 8, 2004 at his Waxahachie home following a long illness. He was 73.

Coppedge also served as president of the Texas Newspaper Foundation from 1975-76 and was a past president of the North and East Texas Press Association.

Coppedge was publisher and general manager of the Waxahachie Daily Light, from 1960-76.

In 1976 he left to begin his tenure as publisher of the Miami (Okla.) News-Record, a position he held until retiring from the newspaper industry in 1989.

After retiring, Coppedge served in the administrative office with the Brownsville Independent School District until 1993.

Coppedge’s 1972 TPA president’s bio described him as “a vigorous and interested man” who liked being in the middle of things. He had no private office at the Light — only a big desk in the center of activities near the news, advertising and business areas of the newspaper.

Early in his life he became a “tennis bum” on public courts in North Hollywood, Calif., where he was born. The family moved to Oklahoma where he continued his tennis career, taking state high school tennis championships, both in singles and doubles. He attended Oklahoma State University at Stillwater on a tennis scholarship from 1950-51, but was interrupted by the Korean War.

While in Japan, he played ping pong and badminton for the U.S. Army and worked on a company newspaper that played an important part in his life. It was in Hokkaido, Japan, that Coppedge decided to change his college major from personnel management to journalism.

After his discharge, he entered North Texas State University at Denton and soon was the number one player for the tennis team. He graduated in 1956 with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism. While at NTSU, Coppedge worked for the Denton Record-Chronicle as a news reporter.

After graduation, he went to work for the San Angelo Standard-Times on general assignments, but by 1958 he had worked up to state editor.

At that time he resigned to go to the Brownwood Bulletin as editor. In 1962 he took a leave of absence to travel six months as press aide to John Connally during his first race for governor. This gave him an opportunity to see the Fourth Estate from the other side of the fence.

But when the management of the Light was offered to him, he couldn’t resist — he was back in the newspaper world.

Coppedge also was part owner of the Stephenville Daily Empire and vice president of CRACO Inc., a newspaper management company.

He was a founding director of both Waxahachie YMCA and Ellis County Historical Museum and Art Gallery. Coppedge served as president of the the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce, chairman of the Bluebonnet District Boy Scouts, executive director of the Waxahachie Family Welfare and chairman of the Waxahachie Park Board.

He also was on the board of management for the YMCA Camp Grady Spruce, director of Waxahachie High Emergency School Assistant Program and on the vestry of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Gov. Connally appointed him to the Brazos River Authority in 1964.

Coppedge was named Waxahachie’s Outstanding Young Man in 1964 and received trophies of appreciation from the National Boy Scout headquarters and the Waxahachie American Legion.

He was on the charter-commission, which helped to rewrite the city’s charter that passed in 1970, and was credited with the idea for the annual Gingerbread Trails celebration, which raised money to purchase a home for the Ellis County Museum.