Jack Kopcak lived for literature, laughter, the kids he raised, and the kids he taught.


Tiffany Kopcak

Newly retired Forge teacher John “Jack” Kopcak III died suddenly of a heart attack on August 2, 2022, while playing golf.

Exit Vernon and Kat Halepaska

During his second day of retirement, Jack Kopcak, former Forge English teacher, died of a heart attack during a game of golf on Tuesday Aug. 2, 2022. The news left many of his past students and family members shocked.

Mr. Kopcak taught English 9 and 12 in addition to sponsoring the National Honor Society. He first joined the Forge family as a substitute teacher after retiring from multiple careers in his lifetime. He was a teacher in the ‘70s, a rep for Mobile Gas, and an educational materials salesman, before finally becoming an educational consultant. 

No matter the job, he loved to read and teach. “I think it was just a passion that he had, and he followed it. I grew up with a real love of literature and books from my dad,” John Kopcak IV, his oldest son and namesake, said.

If you met Mr. Kopcak, you knew he loved ‘70s music (you could always hear Led Zeppelin playing when walking past his room), the Steelers, and J.R.R. Tolkien. He also enjoyed deep sea fishing and golf. His dream, when he retired, was to go play Kiawah Island in South Carolina. 

He made an immediate impression when he first joined the Forge family. “I thought he would be a stereotypical old cranky guy. But he wasn’t, just really nice, really chill,” Jona Han, a NHS student said. 

Mr. Kopcak had a strong bond with his students.  

“He was really proud of all the kids that he taught and all the kids in the NHS. My dad and I would frequently get together on Thursdays. He would always wax eloquent about the great stuff that kids were doing and how great it was with the class,” John said. 

Mr. Kopcak’s students described him as a very welcoming person. 

“He told me how proud he was of me and all my hard work. I remember breaking down and crying because I felt like I had a genuine and safe space to open up,” said Jhadecia “Decia” Walter, the current president of the NHS.

Mr. Kopcak is also a caring father and is described as very dedicated to his family. 

“He said he will always have a love for working with his students, but he also looked forward to getting some personal time to relax and spend time with his family,” Decia said.  

Mr. Kopcak adored his wife, Vicky, telling co-teacher, Ms. Christina Rook, that he was looking forward to retirement “because now I get to spend the rest of my life with the woman that I love.”

You can view comments left on his online obituary by those who knew him.