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Mary L. Koppes

Mary L. Koppes The Koppes family, longtime former residents of Manhattan, has lost a special person from their lives.
Mary Louise Koppes, whose personality glowed with warmth and friendliness and who expressed keen curiosity about everyone and everything around her, died peacefully at her home in San Antonio, Texas, on Friday, Feb. 22. She was 93.

Mary seemed to have never met a stranger. Her belief in the goodness of people and her gregarious nature enabled her to bond almost instantly with all she met. She liked playing bridge, working crossword puzzles, and listening to “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” by Michael Crawford.

The daughter of Frederick Julius Nelson and Emma Maria Swanson, Mary was born Oct. 18, 1925, at the home of her maternal aunt Mary Swanson Brown in Blue Rapids, Kan. She attended the Cottage Hill Public School District until 8th grade and graduated from Waterville High School in 1942.

She married Ralph James Koppes on April 11, 1944, at St. Monica’s Catholic Church In Waterville, Kan. Ralph died in 1994, seven months after he and Mary celebrated their 50th anniversary.

Mary worked secretarial positions in the Transportation Office at Fort Riley, Kan., and at the headquarters of the 2nd Air Force in Colorado Springs, Colo., where Ralph was stationed during part of World War II. They returned to Waterville in 1945 after Ralph’s discharge from the Air Force.

Mary and Ralph moved their young family to Manhattan in 1955. In 1956 she began her long career at the Kansas State University Admissions Office, intermittently after the birth of her son Steve in 1957, then full-time for most of her career. She worked meticulously to ensure that KSU was friendly, caring and responsive to multiple generations of prospective, admitted and current students.

KSU selected Mary as a semi-finalist for Classified Employee of the Year in 1982, one of 18 semi-finalists out of 235 nominees. Her responsibilities included aiding prospective students, parents, counselors and others with admissions inquiries. She also was responsible for interviewing, hiring, and training all new personnel on computer use in the processing division.

Mary retired in 1990. An avid KSU basketball fan and season-ticket-holder for more than four decades, her retirement party was attended by then head coach Lon Kruger and official mascot Willie the Wildcat.

After retirement, her big, ongoing project was sewing 3-foot Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy dolls, which became an immediate hit among her grandchildren and other family members. She also assembled 15 photograph albums for family.

Mary is survived by three children: Gerald Koppes, M.D., of San Antonio; Jeanette Leeper of La Verne, Calif.; and Steven Koppes of Lincoln, Neb.; 15 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her sister, Anna Mae Yandell, and a son, Douglas.

A memorial service will be held Sunday, March 3, in San Antonio. A second memorial service will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 9, at St. Thomas More Catholic Church, 2900 Kimball Ave., Manhattan. A graveside service will be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Riverside Cemetery in Waterville.

Online condolences may be left for the family by clicking on "Send Condolences" on this page.

Memorial contributions may be made to the St. Thomas More Catholic Church. Contributions may be left in care of the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home, 1616 Poyntz Avenue, Manhattan, KS 66502.

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