David Cope was born Feb. 5, 1943, in Detroit, Michigan. He graduated as valedictorian of his high school class and achieved the highest scores in the state of Ohio on graduation exams in math and English. David received a Bachelor of Science degree from Cleveland State University. While completing an internship for NASA in Houston, he met Hester Black who was a senior at the University of Houston. They married Aug. 31, 1963. The couple moved to New Orleans, Louisiana where David worked for Boeing as part of the space mission team. They then moved to Auburn, Alabama where he completed his master’s degree in mathematics from Auburn University. The couple then relocated to Huntsville, Alabama where David resumed working for Boeing on the Apollo Mission project. During this time he was one of a team of two men who calculated the amount of thrust needed to send the Saturn V rocket to its first moon landing. Following the completion of this project, David began to work on his Ph.D at the University of Alabama. While at the university his only child, Katherine Cope, was born. After completing Ph.D coursework, David accepted a teaching position in the math department of the University of North Alabama in 1971. He taught mathematics at UNA for 41 years until his retirement in 2012.
Throughout his life, David was a passionate advocate for causes that he cared deeply about. While at UNA he led an initiative to create a workable program to implement the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. His research on this topic was later published in two national publications. In recent years, David also organized a group of concerned citizens and led a grassroots movement to protect the water quality of Cypress Creek. He conducted hands-on research to expose the pollution of the creek from the nearby sanitary landfill. This citizen group successfully filed a federal court case to force state agencies to enforce regulations which protect this beautiful waterway. The monitoring of the landfill’s impact on Cypress Creek was an ongoing cause to which David contributed countless hours of passionate effort.
David was a devoted husband, father, and grandfather who cared about his family above all else.
He is survived by his wife, Hester Cope; daughter, Katie Cope Drewry; son-in-law, Steve Drewry; and grandchildren, Lauren Kate and Nate Drewry. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Tennessee Riverkeepers, P.O. Box 2594, Decatur, AL 35602.
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