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Gerald "Coach" Richard Coppola

Born: Sun., Jul. 7, 1935
Died: Sat., Dec. 29, 2018


Memorial Service

4:00 PM Sat., Jan. 12, 2019
Location: Windemere Hotel


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Gerald Richard ‘Coach’ Coppola
July 7, 1935 - December 29, 2018


Gerald Coppola, an over 50-year resident of Sierra Vista, was called up to pitch relief the final inning and got the win in the game of life on December 29, 2018.

Jerry was born July 7, 1935 in Newton Township, Pennsylvania. After his childhood in Buffalo, New York, his family moved to Tucson, Arizona. He graduated from Tucson High School in 1954 where he was a two sport star athlete, playing football and baseball.

He pitched for the University of Arizona Baseball team, where he received both a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Education. He began his teaching and coaching career in San Simon, Arizona in 1962. The next year he moved to Sierra Vista, Arizona where he began teaching Government classes and coaching at Buena High School. The thrill of his life was coaching the Buena Baseball team from 1963-1983. His career coaching record was 271-139-1 and he had the privilege of coaching his players in the Arizona State Tournament several times. Coach Coppola was honored to have players go on to play baseball at the collegiate and professional levels as well as become coaches themselves. He continued teaching until his retirement in 1992.

At Buena, he met an English teacher, Janet, who became his wife of 52 years. Together, they raised six children.

In 1996, The Buena High School Varsity Baseball field was named, “Coppola Field.” In 2010, he was inducted into the Arizona Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame.

A real character, he could often be heard in the hallways of Buena saying, “Get in here, you yahoos,” or on the baseball field teasing one of his pitchers, “You call that a curveball?” In the 1970’s he could always be found with a wad of “granulated gum” (tobacco) that much to his wife’s dismay somehow ended up all over him, his truck, and the house. Beyond his general hilarity, he also provided many pep and life talks, particularly to his ball players, that formed them into great men. The depth of his impact lives on. Former student Denise Lundin stated, “How lucky were we to live in a small town with a man of such high caliber, choosing to shape us the way he did. What a legacy he leaves.”

Jerry had many interests and hobbies. A lifelong stellar athlete, he was an avid hiker, hiking the Grand Canyon several times. He also loved a sporting event and sneaking off to Laughlin to play craps, sit at the sports book, and listen to live music. In recent years, he found joy in walking and competing in the Bisbee 1,000 Stair Climb. In 2017, he placed first in his age group.

A complete “social butterfly,” he never met a stranger and had multitudes of friends and attended many social gatherings, from having lunch with his Tucson High Classmates of 1954 or attending retired Coaches’ Luncheons, to meeting his Sierra Vista Circle of friends for coffee and visiting. When you became friends with Jerry, you were his friend for life.

His most favorite activity of all was doing anything with family. He absolutely adored his kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids and they adored him back.

Jerry is preceded in death by his parents, Sam and Peg; sister, MaryLou; niece, Shirlynn; and the wife he adored, Janet. He is survived by his sister, Lucille; brother, Louie; sisters-in-law, Joanne and Helen; nieces, LuAnne, Janet, Joi; nephews, Brad and Jon. His greatest joys were his 6 children. He is survived by all of them and their families: Jim, Brian, Craig, Anne, Laine, and Amy; his daughters-in-law, Robin, Karen, Tracy and Julie; grandchildren, MJ, Nicole, Erin, Jake, Cameron, Mikaela, Kate, Kellie, Charlie, Claire, Seth, and Danelle; and great-grandchildren, Reagan, Kalon, Kail, Lillianrose, Killian, Kieron, and Isaac.

Jerry was free with his friendship, counsel, and most of all his love. His impact lives on through his students, ball players, friends, and most of all, his adoring family. He was the center of our universe and it will never be the same.

A Tribute for Gerald Coppola will be held by his children on Saturday, January 12, 2019, at the Windemere Hotel and Conference Center in Sierra Vista, Arizona at 4:00pm.

In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Buena Booster Club - Buena High School, 5225 E. Buena School Blvd. Sierra Vista, Arizona, 85635. Attention: Boosters Club, please specify: “For the Baseball Program.”

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