Tom Kopriva with one of his free-flight models Jim Corbett photo.

Longtime Oregon modeler Tom Kopriva dies

Longtime Eugene Prop Spinners member Tom Kopriva died at his home on Dec. 28, 2022.

Besides being an active control-line modeler, Tom was an active the Willamette Valley Modelers free-flight club. He was an active Free-Flight modeler and a master craftsman, having worked as a dentist before retirement.

Tom was a lifelong control-line flier, who was active in Combat and flew Stunt and sport planes later in life. He also flew radio control, both indoor and outdoor. He is survived by his wife, Earline.

Newspaper obituary

This article was prepared by Earline Kopriva

Thomas Michael “Tom” Kopriva passed away on Dec. 28 of a heart attack at the age of 79. He was born on January 19th, 1943, in Cleveland, Ohio, to Ida and Nickolas Kopriva; he was the eldest of three children.

In 1968, Tom graduated from Case Western Dental School; that’s where he fell in love with Earline Cole when she sat in his dental chair. Tom served in the United States Air Force and worked as a dentist at Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas. In 1970, Tom and Earline married in Del Rio, Texas. After being honorably discharged as a captain from the Air Force, in 1972 Dr. Kopriva began his professional career in Houston.

Their son, Michael Thomas, was born in 1974. The family moved to Eugene, Ore., in 1980, where Tom joined the dental practice of Dr. Clark. Tom later bought the practice and insisted that Earline be his office manager.

Tom and Earline lived life to the fullest and traveled extensively.  Tom was a man of many talents. He was a collector, golfer, fisherman, cook, gardener, bird watcher and photographer. He was musical and had a large collection of guitars which he enjoyed playing. One of his many hobbies was the design and fabrication of Earline’s jewelry. His 2022 Christmas gift was a necklace and earring set that featured beads with maps of places they visited. He also was an enthusiastic patron of the Eugene Library.

As a child Tom developed a lifelong passion for model airplanes and was a member of a number of clubs affiliated with the Academy of Model Aeronautics, including the Eugene Prop Spinners and Willamette Modelers. He made and flew model airplanes and won many contests with his creations.

He had firm opinions which he was more than willing to share, often sitting back and enjoying the reactions of others. Not wishy washy, our Tom.

Tom was predeceased by his parents, his sisters, and sadly his son, Michael. He is survived by his devoted wife, Earline. A celebration of life will be held on what would have been Tom’s 80th birthday, January 19, 2023, at 2 p.m. at Along Came Trudy, 1488 18th St., Springfield.

Contributions in his memory can be made to the Eugene Library Foundation or Wounded Warrior Project.

One of Tom's last control-line planes was the Lieutenant, designed by Leroy Ducharme, which was featured in the January 1958 issue of Model Airplane News. It also is in "Classic Era Construction Drawings" by Tom Morris. Power is a Tom Dixon-modified Fox .35. The plane, covered with silk, weighs 36 oz. It is seen here at a Prop Spinners Can Do Ranch flying session in July 2022. Flying Lines photo.

Back to Prop Spinners page

Flying Lines home page

This page was upated Jan. 10, 2023