Chris Kupferer, 56, of Lower Gwynedd Township, a copy editor at The Inquirer for almost a quarter of a century, was found dead Friday, July 5, at his home.
After Mr. Kupferer did not report for work Friday, Lower Gwynedd police officers went to check and found him unresponsive. The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office said the cause of death was not immediately known but was not believed to be suspicious. Mr. Kupferer’s family said he had struggled with heart problems in the past.
Mr. Kupferer was hired by The Inquirer in 1995. He first edited copy for the local Neighbors sections and the daily Metro report.
In the late 1990s, he held the key role of slot editor, or last person to see the copy before it was typeset, for the Sunday paper. For the last three years, he had edited feature stories.
Stan Wischnowski, executive editor/senior vice president of The Inquirer, worked closely with Mr. Kupferer when Wischnowski was a news editor shaping the daily report.
“Chris was an outstanding copy editor, and his skills graced every section of The Inquirer during his 24-year career,” Wischnowski said. “His high standards for accuracy, fairness, and stellar writing were on full display every Sunday in our Live Life Love section. Most important, Chris was a kind and compassionate colleague, and he’ll be deeply missed by us all.”
Gabriel Escobar, editor/vice president of The Inquirer, said during the Monday morning news meeting that Mr. Kupferer was “a consummate professional.” On Tuesday afternoon, a moment of silence will be observed in the newsroom to honor Mr. Kupferer.
In general, Inquirer copy editors check editorial content for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and accuracy. With the advent of multi-platform publication, editors on the print production desk either lay out pages for the newspapers or write headlines and captions while giving a final check to stories; Mr. Kupferer worked in the latter role. Changes they make also appear in stories already published online.
David Sullivan, an assistant managing editor and Mr. Kupferer’s longtime supervisor, said he could be loud and sarcastic at times, but the brusqueness masked a softer side.
“Underneath the growliness was a sweet guy who based his life in part on giving insulin to his diabetic dog at the same time every day,” Sullivan said. “He was incredibly patient and helpful in teaching people new things.
“If you sent him a joke he liked, his laugh would fill half the newsroom – but if he didn’t find it funny, there was no polite laugh, just silence, and you knew you had let him down and vowed to do better. He had incredibly high standards for himself and everyone, and he would get frustrated when things fell short, but it never became personal, he was professional through and through.”
Mr. Kupferer was very thorough and detail-oriented when reading copy.
“When Chris was handling your section, you knew he had your back,” Kevin Ferris, a former editor, posted online.
Occasionally he was wrong, which he admitted. Former Inquirer copy editor David Cohen said Mr. Kupferer liked to tell of his irritation when then-Metro columnist John Grogan turned in a column about his dog, Marley. Mr. Kupferer thought it frivolous, but the column became the basis for the best-selling book Marley & Me and a movie.
Born in West Orange, N.J., Mr. Kupferer was raised in Millerton, N.Y. He graduated in 1980 from Webutuck High School in Amenia, N.Y. In 1985, he graduated from Montclair State University in New Jersey with a bachelor’s degree in English.
His career path took him from a job as features editor for an 11,000-circulation twice-weekly paper in Lakeville, Conn., to a reporting job in Waterbury, Conn. He hit his stride as assistant city editor for the Norwich (Conn.) Bulletin and then as a copy editor for the Danbury (Conn.) News-Times.
His brother Keith said that as a boy Mr. Kupferer liked to read, tinker with mechanical things, and travel. As an adult, he enjoyed caring for his dog and watching old TV shows “that we used to grow up on.”
In addition to his brother, he is survived by his mother, Anna Mae, and another brother, Kurt.
Visitation is planned for 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, July 12, at the Scott D. Conklin Funeral Home, Millerton, N.Y. A memorial service will follow at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 13, at St. Mary Catholic Church, Lakeville, Conn. Burial is private.