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Cal Bollwinkel 

Lou Coppola

September 13, 1927—April 25, 2020

(Copy by Jim Drennan)

Lou Coppola, the guy who always had plenty to say at our Valley Broadcast Legends luncheons, has gone silent after a life that was both long and well-lived. He passed away on April 25 at the age of 92.

He spent his last months in a board and care home in the Greenhaven area of Sacramento, and I’ll be forever grateful that I had the chance to spend a wonderful hour visiting with him before the quarantine forbade such visits.

Up until his move into a board and care home, he and wife Betty had lived in a house on Eighth avenue in Land Park they had bought in 1963. When word spread that Lou was nearing the end of his life, neighbors filled their front yards with American flags in his honor.

Said son Chuck: “My father was fervently patriotic…To me, that simple tribute put a lump in my throat, more so almost than his passing.!”

Emo Luigi Fernando Coppola’s journey began 92 years ago in the northern Italian village of Uscio. His parents Emilio and Rosa brought him to America in 1930 to escape Mussolini’s dictatorship and settled in Concord, California. Lou’s dad worked as a laborer.

But from the beginning Lou seemed destined for greater things. Lou was president of his senior class at Mt. Diablo Senior High, graduating in 1945. He was a natural at baseball, and played on semi-pro teams in the East Bay and worked as an auto mechanic at his brother Mario’s service station. One of their customers noted that Lou had a natural voice for radio…which turned out to be prophetic.

Lou got into radio courtesy of the U. S. Army, which sent him to Korea where he picked up a gig broadcasting for Armed Forces Radio. After the war, he attended broadcasting school at San Francisco State, got his first radio job and met his future wife at KMOR in Oroville , and moved to Sacramento where he spent the next 40 years working for KCRA and then KGNR radio where he indulged in his greatest passion: calling the plays at Sacramento Solons games.

Chuck remembers being with his dad when he broadcast the last game at the Solons’ Edmonds Field on April 12, 1964…an exhibition game between the San Francisco Giants and the Cleveland Indians in which Willie Mays and Willie McCovey hit back to back home runs.

Lou’s second passion was big band music. Although he didn’t play any instruments, he had a “great set of pipes,” according to friend Lizette Martinez-Hopkins. He used that voice to host many a swing era dance featuring live bands, and sang in the choir at Holy Spirit Church in Land Park. He also spent his time in a host of volunteer activities, including helping ex-cons write job resumes.

In our final conversation just weeks before his death, Lou showed that same love of life and luminosity of spirit that he showed all his life. I’m sure heaven is a happier and livelier place now that Lou’s voice is being heard there and that God is letting him talk as much as he wants.

CORRECTION: The Sacramento Bee's obituary incorrectly credits Lou with being a founder of our club Valley Broadcast Legends. He was not. VBL was started by Joyce Krieg, Maxine Carlin, Charlie Duncan, and Harry Warren.



last edited 20 May 2020