Reflections on a Great Friend: Paul Kopp

Paul and I went to a number of Twins Games through the years. I never knew what I would enjoy the most: The game itself, as we discussed the intricate details of baseball along with reflections on baseball history – or, would it be the deep conversations as we drove over two hours to and from the stadium. Of course, with Paul, the best part of any trip is the unexpected. In this case, it was parking the car.

I was driving. Paul was navigating. He directed us to the parking lot of Bethlehem Baptist Church near the Metrodome. Paul said we could park here. I explained to Paul there was “No Event Parking ” signs everywhere. Our car will get towed.

He said, “No, it’s OK. We can park here.”
“But Paul, I don’t want my car towed.” 
“They won’t tow your car. It’s OK!” 

Then Paul began to write something. 

“I’ll put this on the dashboard.” 
“What does it say?” 
“It says my sister is a member of your church. Thank you for letting us park here.” 

I’m thinking that should settle everything. The tow truck driver is going hook up our vehicle and suddenly see the note on the dashboard and say, “I didn’t realize his sister went to church here. My mistake!” 

Just then, I saw a person that might work at the church. “Paul, let’s at least ask him if we can park here.”

Paul walks over to him like he’s a Jedi Knight talking to a Storm Trooper (you know — “These are not the droids you’re looking for.”)

— “Hi, we parked our car over there.” 
— “My sister goes to church here.”  
— “We put a note on the dashboard too.” 

The whole time Paul is talking, the guy is nodding like he is in a normal conversation. Then the man said, “OK – thank you for letting me know.”  As I began to walk away, Paul says to the man, “Can we pray for you?” 

This is a microcosm of a 40+ year friendship with Paul: Continuous joy, unexpected twists and turns, led by the Holy Spirit.

We met Paul and Sandy in 1981. Janet began doing daycare for their daughter Kristen (age 1 at the time). A life-long friendship developed with many family celebrations and get togethers (Sandy and I also have the same birthday). Paul and I shared many common interests including family, baseball, politics, but mostly, a serious approach to practical Christianity. We also enjoyed much of the same music (like U2):

Yeah, we’ll shine like stars in the summer night
We’ll shine like stars in the winter night
One heart, one hope, one love
With or without you . . . 

The first thing I noticed when we met Paul and Sandy was how calm they were. (Sandy on the phone: “I suppose I should go now. I saw Paul drop by the window. He must have fell off the roof.” Yes – you did read that correctly! ) She must have been used to Paul doing things like dropping from the sky. Once Paul showed me where he was driving a pick-up truck with their piano in the back. He took the corner too fast and too sharp and the piano flew out of the pick-up and shattered all over the intersection. This is why when we moved into our current house, Janet whispered to one of my other friends, “Don’t let Dave and Paul carry the china cabinet.” Again, I have shared characteristics with Paul – dropping things, breaking things, and injuring ourselves. The china cabinet was safe and sound, but then we heard a crash from the other room. Paul dropped the silverware all over the kitchen floor.

Paul filled so many roles at different points in my life: prayer partner, intellectual, encourager, sports enthusiast, political analyst, theologian, prophet, comedian, counselor, and so much more. People are right to see Paul as a very kind man. But those who see Paul only as a very kind man miss the grand scope and immensity of who he is.  

Paul is dying. I will miss him immensely. But to say that Paul is dying doesn’t mean he is losing his life. He gave that up a long time ago. He found peace and joy in giving his life to be like Christ. He found peace and joy in giving his life to others.  Even in his recent suffering, like Christ, he’s giving his life to bring love, joy, and peace to others. He went to the hospital in Fridley, MN. Paul didn’t find healing there — but the hospital did. The doctors did. The nurses did. The staff did. And in these last days of his life, Paul’s suffering will ultimately help his family and friends find the love, joy, healing, and peace he’s always wanted for all of us. It may just take us a while. 

Thank you Paul for giving so much life to all of us. 

And you give yourself away
And you give yourself away
And you give
And you give
And you give yourself away


All Song Lyrics: U2: With or Without You

Jesus Follower, Blogger, Public Speaker.

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7 comments on “Reflections on a Great Friend: Paul Kopp
  1. Larry T says:

    Dave – You’ve so eloquently stated what all of us who know Paul feel in wordless sentiments. Thanks for your time and care in expressing for many of us the content of our hearts for this dear man.

  2. Luane says:

    Dave, this is beautifully stated and helped me get a glimpse of other aspects of this amazing man and brother in Christ.

  3. Becky Quaintance says:

    What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful person so many loved and thought highly of. This is written with excellence & inspiring and memorable and truly from the heart. Thank you for sharing, Dave. Paul’s life left a lasting mark of Christ’s love, as evidenced by your beautiful article.

  4. Christy B says:

    This tribute to Paul is beautifully written. He has no doubt impacted many xx

  5. Resa says:

    Interesting, but after reading this I’m not sure if I should offer condolences, or congratulations.
    Both seem somehow fitting. Be well, Dave!

  6. Michael Boeddeker says:

    I m just now finding out Paul passed away, it’s been some time since I ve seen Paul and sandy, but I remember them leading our youth group meetings on Wednesdays at bethel Baptist church. I remember Paul being so kind and he had this great sense of humor, it saddens me, but I know for sure he’s walking with our Lord and I will see him again someday. My condolences to Sandy and the kids. Michael Boeddeker

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