Local man made difference in New Richmond business community
Thomas Koop, Sr., a resident of New Richmond and an instrumental person in bringing WITC to New Richmond, passed away on Feb. 5 at the age of 91.
“He was a very knowledgeable person and loved to read,” said his son Thomas Koop, Jr. “He was very insightful, especially when it came to education. He wanted to make sure every kid used every bit of their talent to the fullest. That is why he pushed so hard to bring WITC to New Richmond.”
Koop graduated from St. Thomas College and went on to attend Georgetown University. He later graduated from the William Mitchell College of Law. In 1959, he moved to New Richmond where he was employed by Doughboy/Domain Industries as an attorney executive and later as vice president of Personnel-Labor Relations.
“I knew him the whole time we were here at Doughboy and he was instrumental in helping with the direction of the company and was relied on a lot for the information and insight he could give by upper management,” said John Helling, who worked at Doughboy as a divisional manager and corporate credit manager. “He was a very pleasant person to work with, but he was also very direct. He was always a knowledgeable presence at Doughboy. He was a good worker as well as diligent and precise.”
Along with his job at Doughboy, Koop was a major player in the education scene in New Richmond due to his belief that everyone deserved the chance to better themselves through education. Many have said that without his help and dedication to education Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College would never have opened a campus in New Richmond.
“Our father would say that education was the great equalizer,” said one of Koop’s other sons, Richard Koop. “He felt that without the opportunity to have an education, life would be very difficult.”
According to Marilyn McCarty, who worked for 30 years at WITC before retiring as the Regional Administrator, Koop’s involvement in bringing WITC to New Richmond began in 1962 when he spoke with the Kiwanis Club about a lack of skilled workers and a lack of vocational technical training in the area.
“If Tom hadn’t done what he did for the school it never would have ended up being in New Richmond,” McCarty said. “He was a visionary and his commitment and devotion to bringing vocational technical education to the area has really helped out the business and industrial communities of the region. Tom never faltered through the whole process of getting the school here.”
Because of his love for education, Koop’s family has set up a scholarship, the Thomas E. Koop, Sr. Scholarship Foundation, in his memory at WITC. All contributions to the scholarship can be sent to WITC to the care of Tom Koop, Sr..
In addition to his passion for education, Koop was also a father of six and believed his children were his greatest accomplishment of all.
“Our fondest memories are of the discussions we would have with him about so many different things,” Richard Koop said. “He was always able to break complex issues down to make it easier to understand, and then figure out if it was right or wrong. That is just the way his mind was wired. He also believed in equal opportunities for everyone because of his upbringing.”
Koop was also a voracious reader his whole life. He loved to read constitutional law and would never pass up the chance to discuss that or any other topic with friends and family.
Mass of Christian Burial was 11 a.m. Monday, Feb., 10 at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, in New Richmond. Visitation was held from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday at Cullen Crea Funeral Home in New Richmond. Memorials preferred to WITC Foundation, in care of Tom Koop, Sr., 1019 S. Knowles Ave., New Richmond, WI 54017.