Whitewater man remembered for community action, AED program
The funeral procession for Tom Schopen, a former member of the Whitewater Fire Department, and captain of the Whitewater Rescue Squad, stretched along Wisconsin Highway 89 near Whitewater. Schopen was buried Feb. 11. Photo submitted.
WHITEWATER--The impact Tom Schopen made on his community--with almost half a century on the Whitewater Fire Department and 42 years on the Whitewater Rescue Squad--was reflected by the procession of friends at his funeral, ranging from fire/rescue vehicles to tow trucks.
Schopen, 74, also known as "The Happy Hooker" and "Big Daddy" died Feb. 4 at the Rainbow Hospice Inpatient Center in Johnson Creek.
A Watertown native, he started Schopen Automotive Service in 1962 and served on the board of directors of the Wisconsin Towing Association for years.
He joined the Whitewater Fire Department in 1966, and became captain of the Whitewater Rescue Squad in 1971.
Schopen was instrumental in helping spearhead a defibrillation program in Whitewater in 1998 that trained area EMS, fire and rescue members and citizen responders to aid in cases of sudden cardiac arrest. Some 30 automated external defibrillators were placed around Whitewater in factories, retirement homes, restaurants and squad cars.
Through his training with the AED, Schopen actually saved the life of his wife, Judy. When she collapsed with sudden cardiac arrest, his training, and the fact an AED was only minutes from their home helped save her.
Friends say Schopen's compassion was well known, and he will leave a void in the community.
Funeral services were held Feb. 11, at Randy's Supper Club in Whitewater with Rev. Jerald Wendt officiating. Schopen was buried in the Town of Richmond Cemetery.
Schopen was preceded in death by his wife, who died in 2011; brother, Richard; and sister, Donna.
Survivors include daughters Tomi (David) Schaitel and Jona (fiance Kelly Freeman) Schopen, both of Janesville, and Cindy (Tim) Krueger of New London; grandchildren and siblings.
His family requests memorials be made only to the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association or to the Rainbow Hospice of Jefferson.