HAMPDEN – Chris Warren Kopang was born Aug. 24, 1949, in Redlands, Calif., and grew up in the mountain resort of Lake Arrowhead, Calif., located approximately 70 miles east of Los Angeles in the San Bernardino Mountains.
Upon graduation from high school in 1967 he commenced work on a bachelor’s degree in Rhetoric from the University of California at Berkeley, from which he graduated in the spring of 1971. With the Vietnam conflict still ongoing, he had the dubious distinction of having the “low lottery number of 36″ in the selective service draft, the only lottery he ever won. He passed away on Feb. 9, 2014, after a prolonged battle with prostate cancer, with his beloved wife, Jan and her sister, Maureen at his side.
With call-up into the Army imminent due to the draft, Chris chose instead to join the Naval Reserves for two years of active duty, not knowing in August of 1971 that he would commence 35 years of active naval service entering the regular Navy as a Seaman Recruit and retiring as a Navy Captain in July 2006. Throughout his 35 years of service, he was blessed to be selected to command a Navy Destroyer, USS LEFTWICH (DD-984) out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where his ship led all Hawaiian home-ported vessels in both enlisted and junior officer retention, to serve as Director of Military Compensation in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and to command the Naval ROTC unit at Maine Maritime Academy/University of Maine. Having served as an enlisted man during his career, Chris believed that if you took care of your sailors, your sailors would take care of you.
Even though Jan and Chris were both born and raised in California, the decision to remain in Maine upon Chris’ retirement was an easy one, due to the scenic environment and friendly people they met during Chris’s last three years in the Navy while living in Castine. Upon retirement from the Navy, Chris went to work for the Federal Aviation Administration in September 2007 at the Bangor International Airport.
Chris is survived by the love of his life, Jan whom he met at Resurrection Lutheran Church in Coronado, Calif. They both knew it was love at first sight, and were married on Jan. 15, 2000. He is also survived by two children from his first marriage, Jessica Kopang who lives in San Jose, Calif., and his son, Michael and wife, Ashley, who live in Fort Wayne, Ind. His proudest achievements are his two children who he loved unconditionally.
Volunteer service to the community was important to Chris. During his three years in the Navy while living in Castine, he served as President of the Castine Men’s Club, and upon moving to Hampden, he volunteered to serve as Council President of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Bangor for three years. In addition, he has served the last three years as President of the Pine Tree Chapter of the Military Officer’s Association of America.
Following cremation, it is my wish that you join me for a memorial service at 1 p.m. Feb. 22, at Redeemer Lutheran Church, 540 Essex St., Bangor, where you can toast me with a glass of wine. I will hear you! Formal military interment will be held at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, Calif., at a future date. In lieu of flowers, anyone wishing to make a donation may do to New Hope Hospice, P.O. Box 70, Eddington, ME 04428. www.hampdengilpatrick.com.