Philip Lee Koppelman, passed away peacefully on October 25, 2023, surrounded by family at his home currently in Pine Island, MN. His long courageous battle with cancer allowed more time to cherish milestones and daily life together as family and friends. Phil was a beloved son, husband, father, grandfather, uncle, brother, and friend. A memorial service will be held at 1 PM on Saturday, November 11th at Breckenridge Lutheran Church in Breckenridge, MN. Visitation will be held 2 hours prior to service at church.
Born on July 22, 1945 to Ted and Regina (Damman) Koppelman of Breckenridge, MN. Phil graduated from Breckenridge High School in 1963. He enrolled in North Dakota State College of Science where he majored in accounting and played basketball. As a part of the 1963-64 Basketball Team he was inducted into the NDSCS Athletic Hall of Fame in 2014.
In May of 1965 he graduated with his degree. He proposed marriage to his high school sweetheart, Sharon Gruenberg, and were married on September 4th, 1965, at Christ Lutheran Church in Mitchell Township, near Breckenridge, MN. They had two children Carrie and Carl, and over the years lived in Wolverton, Moorhead, Fertile and Breckenridge. They enjoyed tent camping with their kids, helping on the Gruenberg farm and spending time with extended family at reunions or gatherings.
Phil drove school bus for Breckenridge Public Schools for 38 years starting in 1978. He owned Phil’s Champlin Gas Station starting in 1973, had a hobby farm and was an Apartment Maintenance Serviceman. Phil was very influential in the Breckenridge Lutheran Church through serving on the church council, was church maintenance and custodian for 13 years, and even routinely set up for the quilting ladies.
He was able to build a few hot rods over the years with the help of his group of car guys, but held on to the green ‘55 Chevy that reminded him of his days courting Sharon. He hosted many family and friends in his backyard garage, and always looked forward to summer car shows, especially the annual Back to the 50’s Show in St. Paul. His hobbies included designing and building home improvements, which sometimes included wooden crafts with his wife and grandkids.
A lifelong sports fan, Phil could often be found cheering on his alma mater the Breckenridge Cowboys and Cowgirls, and his grandkids’ teams, the Pine Island Panthers, or Albert Lea Tigers especially when his grandkids were playing.
Friends and family remember Phil for his willingness to always help others, his big warm hugs, sense of dry wit humor, unforgettable grin, and giant teddy bear personality hiding behind his intimidating stature. He was a very generous man who would always lend a hand with projects or help others in need.
Phil was preceded in death by his parents Ted and Regina Koppelman, brothers Clifford (LaVonne), Paul (Patricia), and sister Janice Letteer (survived by Dick Letteer). Phil is survived by his wife of 58 years Sharon; children Carrie (Jon) O’Reilly, Carl (Kalli) Koppelman; grandchildren Cody O’Reilly (Danielle Malagrino), Jackie (Erik) Hasselquist, Courtney (Austin) Imdieke, Julianne O’Reilly, Carter O’Reilly, Alexander Merritt, and Meryll Koppelman; great granddaughter Eleanor Hasselquist.
He has chosen to donate his body to the Mayo Clinic Body Donation Program in gratitude for the many years of amazing care and memories.
The family wishes to express their gratitude to the Mayo Hospice team for their loving care.
Cards may be sent for the family to receive later to Breckenridge Lutheran Church in Breckenridge, MN (301 6th Street N, Breckenridge, MN 56520).
The service will be live streamed on Breckenridge Lutheran Church's facebook page using the following link: