Bob Koppes, Founder of Safe Reflections
May 9, 1956 - May 3, 2015
Bob Koppes, born on May 9th 1956.
Passed away after a hard battle with lung cancer on Sunday, May 3rd, 2015 surrounded by his family. Having such a strong will and passion for life and those he loved, he fought for it until the very end.
Survived by his wife, Nataliya; children Joey, Jennifer and Davyd; brother, Michael; sister, Elizabeth and nieces and nephews, Chad, Christina, Trevor, Michael, John, Stephanie, David, Claire, Kris, and Peter; granddaughter Kaelyn. Preceded in death by his parents Paul and Betty Koppes, his brothers Peter and James.
Being self-driven and motivated, he was determined to find his purpose and always followed his heart. From line chef, car restoration, lab technician, chemical engineer, ski patrol, firefighter and EMT, to successful business owner.
Caring for a very young family, Bob worked his way through a Chemical Engineering degree at the University of Minnesota in the cancer research center. Upon graduating, he was hired by 3M in Ames, Iowa. Even while working long days, he was always there for his family. During his tenure at 3M the family moved back to Woodbury and even to California for a few years where Bob was able to re-visit Newport Beach with the fond memories of his youth when he cooked at a gourmet restaurant many years prior. Working as a process engineer for the sandpaper division in Saint Paul he spent his free time working on restoring an early Fiat X-19 roadster. After fifteen years with 3M, Bob was ready to start on the next chapter of his life by risking everything to venture out on his own.
Bob created and worked tirelessly to build the company Safe Reflections into the success it is today. While working three jobs and taking care of his two children alone, Safe Reflections was formed 22 years ago out of necessity from his personal experience of saving people’s lives at night on hills of Welch Village and within the city of Woodbury as an EMT and Firefighter. He overwhelmingly felt the responsibility to increase people’s visibility and safety during work and play. This mission Safe Reflections still embraces today. He has touched the lives of countless people in the inventions and the products he created, as well as the people he directly touched during his time as a first responder. The reflective technology that he created will continue to save peoples’ lives long into the future.
Just when his professional and personal life was starting to fall into the place where had always strived to achieve, the freedom of becoming a private pilot, a good family and the day-to-day stress of having his own company fading as it was becoming successful, a diagnosis of advanced prostate cancer in 2009 put a hamper on the life he was just starting to enjoy. Instead of letting this serious diagnosis crush his spirit, he strived to beat the cancer even though the odds were against him. With a twist of fate his new wife Natalyia having been a nurse in an ICU with an equally passionate and determined spirit, was the perfect companion for tackling the difficult road ahead. Taking control of his treatment, he and his new wife spent their days working to get the best care he could across the entire country.
With the prostate cancer finally in remission for a short year, a routine scan discovered the most crushing news anyone can receive on April 28th of 2014, the very day he became a grandfather, extensive-stage small cell lung cancer. Trying his best not being discouraged, he took his limitless determination to task to fight the enemy within. Utilizing his experience as a cancer researcher and his medical training, along with his vast network of friends around the globe, he worked to exhaustion everyday to source the best knowledge, doctors, and treatment options throughout the past year. All of the efforts of friends, family and the people that fate brought into his life that included dedicating many trips around the country, time spent researching options, and their emotional support were greatly appreciated and necessary to continue the battle. And even during his own personal struggle, the past year his compassion for others was indisputable with his support for freedom in Ukraine and contributing funds for first aid to the young soldiers fighting for that cause.
Not being stopped by a year of harsh chemotherapy and radiation treatments, the conviction to stay alive for his family did not end until he was reassured that they would be okay without him, he peacefully took his last breath.
His final, weak words the day before were “I love you” to his wife.
Quoting Bob’s usual last words: “...End of story.”