Richard J. Coppola did not allow deafness to prevent him from taking in all that life had to offer. And nothing gave him more joy than performing as Elvis Presley, his idol, at deaf-community events.
“I think a large part of it was the persona,” said Marie Coppola, his daughter. “He really did love the music. He had all the albums. He would play them and sing along with them.
“For his 60th surprise birthday party, we hired an Elvis impersonator. This guy was super-cocky and my Dad could not wait for this guy to sit down so that he could have his turn. He didn’t think the guy’s moves were that good. He really embraced his alter ego.”
Mr. Coppola, who had been an employee of the 30th Street office of the U.S. Postal Service, died Saturday, April 25, one day after his 80th birthday, of complications from the coronavirus at Immaculate Mary Center for Rehabilitation and Health Care in Northeast Philadelphia.
Marie Coppola said her father, an active participant in the city’s deaf community, was an ardent sports fan. He rooted for all Philadelphia teams but loved the Green Bay Packers so much that his son, Victor, was given the middle name of Lombardi.
He also had this thing about televisions.
“When I was growing up, and in fact until very recently, there were three or four TVs in our living room,” she said. “In the ’70s, nobody had four TVs in the living room. He would have them all on, watching different sports at the same time. And he’d be reading the paper simultaneously.”
What Mr. Coppola said was “the crowning achievement to his fatherhood,” according to his daughter, came in 1985 when he took the family to the World Games of the Deaf in Los Angeles. Their travel route allowed them to hit all 48 contiguous states in the span of 42 days, covering 13,760 miles.
“We had to go way out of the way to get to some of them,” she said. “He’d work nights at the post office, and he was a total night owl. So we didn’t actually stay overnight in many places because he would like to drive at night. Then he would pull over and nap in the morning.”
In addition to his daughter and son, Mr. Coppola is survived by his wife of 52 years, Amelia Eibel Coppola; a son, Dominick, and four grandchildren.