Harold Coopersmith, August 1, 2023; also known to us as Hal, was born August 6, 1929, in Philadelphia. He was preceded in death by his wife of 53 years, Marian, whom he met when she was in high school. He was also coincidentally a high school history teacher at the time, no comment. His parents, Mosia and Judith Coopersmith, escaped from the Ukraine as teenagers and were true heroes and embodied the American dream, raising successful educated children through persistence and hard work. Hal was a strong advocate for the downtrodden all his life and persevered and rose to the top despite the odds and challenges. As a young child with polio, he still participated in all sports. Despite this challenge, he is well remembered walking, exercising, and was an accomplished sailor, bike rider, skier and all-around mentor to his children. He rode his bike in the 5 Boros ride in New York and in the MS City to Shore ride many times. His neighbors fondly remember him walking around Dublin Terrace and before that up and down the very steep hill on Hawthorn Lane where we grew up. Even at Ann’s Choice he walked outside and then forced himself to walk the very long hallways to maintain his health and fitness. Even in his last days, he was doing leg lifts in the hospital.
As a parent, he provided us with every opportunity we could want. He is survived by his four daughters, Michelle C. Berk (David), Galina Knopman, Belinda Lader (Nathan), and Jenni Coopersmith. He had 6 granddaughters, one grandson, a great grandson and granddaughter and four devoted nieces, Francene Mason, of blessed memory, Melanie Mason, Cynthia Reichman and Tina Josephson, to whom he was very devoted. They will miss their beloved Uncle Harold.
We grew up with many fun family vacations in the U.S. and around the world. We fondly remember him lacing the four of us into our ski boots in freezing conditions skiing in Vermont while some of us let him know how cold it was in no uncertain terms. He skied the younger daughters by leaning over and snow plowing down the hill. Winter break and Presidents’ weekend, we would head for the hills, skiing. Summers were spent on Long Beach Island. He provided us with every type of lesson and we attended all cultural events. He indulged all our whims for travel, academics, and sports, to give us a well-rounded education and life. He was a devoted father, grandfather, and great grandfather to a great grandson and great granddaughter. He took us to and attended all our recitals and those of the grandchildren, 6 girls, of course, and one grandson. He also attended all his children’s and grandchildren’s extracurricular activities, which were numerous, wherever they were held. He even baby sat and continued the family bike riding tradition with the grandchildren.
We fondly remember our family vacations and waterskiing on LBI, running his motorboat aground and breaking the prop, not once, but numerous times. Dad would simply get it repaired and teach all four of us, and our friends, to waterski. We have no idea how he had the patience to do that. Our friends still fondly remember those adventures years later. In retrospect, we wanted for nothing growing up.
Dad was a strong proponent of academics and education and was a true Renaissance man and an exemplary family man. He supported our mother in pursuing her many higher education degrees, ventures, and adventures. Although he had a grueling commute to work, and an even more grueling and soul crushing position as the Vice President of his in-law’s printing and publishing business, he went above and beyond. He is highly respected and beloved by his many employees and colleagues for his integrity and honesty.
The patriarch of our family and as a son, son in law, husband, brother, father, and uncle and Poppop, he also went above and beyond and gave his all to caring for others. He was always there to help everyone and anticipated their needs. He was always there for his family and travelled anywhere to help us and his extended family, and, even strangers, or anyone in need and had compassion for all.
He was charitable and cared for all. He was a true liberal and advocate for democracy and propounded and embodied the principles of liberty, equality, and civil rights for all. He was an avid advocate and proponent of women’s, minorities, and immigrant’s rights. He exhorted us to wear flat shoes and to eschew high heels if we wanted to get ahead in the world. He also told us that we didn’t need to wear makeup and looked better without it, so maybe his vision was clouded.
Dad also had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and was a voracious reader and learner. He always had stacks of library books and newspapers that he read constantly. He remembered and could quote every word and make every concept relevant. His memory was astounding and his grasp of history and application to our current political situation was unsurpassed. He loved watching the not so scintillating CSPAN channel on TV. He was an autodidact and took constitutional law and philosophy classes for fun. He was an avid learner and had a curious intellect and thirst for knowledge. He would describe and recall all manner of facts in the news and apply them to interpret current events. He provided a historical perspective on even the most disturbing recent political situations, since his first career was as a high school history teacher. His worldview was of a true secular humanist. Even in the hospital, he remembered the names of historical figures and knew all about pop culture, at age almost 94! I will miss our discussions where we solved all the world’s problems and almost always agreed on the solutions. He was also always a strong advocate of Israel and strongly pro- Jewish, culturally and historically. He and mom were avid travelers, to exotic locales they planned on their own, never a part of organized tours. He was open to trying any cuisine, despite his multiple stomach ulcers, probably a result of aggravation, not bacteria! He loved spontaneous adventures and flouting arbitrary rules, such as “No Parking” signs, which should probably not be mentioned. He loved hearing and telling jokes.
Above all, dad’s passion was that he was a highly accomplished cellist. He could have been a professional, had he not been tethered to the family business. He returned to the cello in middle age, taking lessons until there was nothing more even the most famous local cellists could teach him. He played in community orchestras and most famously, always had his own quartet, quintet or sextet rehearsing in his living room. Most notably, he is acclaimed for always calling and relentlessly pursuing musicians to play. He would schedule and find replacements and order the music and serve delicious repasts that were the musical and social highlight of their week. He practiced the cello almost constantly, for as long as he physically could, into his nineties. He travelled to play wherever and whenever he could. His musician friends are indebted to him for always creating opportunities to play and socialize. He never waited to be called, he initiated the calls, a very good lesson for us and our children, whom he loved above all and was a true family man.
The world will be a much smaller, less vibrant, fair and equitable a place without our dad, Harold Coopersmith. Contributions in his memory can be made to Planned Parenthood Action Fund or American Friends of Mogen David Adom.
Services will be Thursday, August 3, 2023, at 11:30 AM, at Joseph Levine & Sons, 1002 Skippack Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422. Shiva follows at the home of Belinda and Nathan Lader. www.levinefuneral.com.