Leonard Virgil Koop was born July 24, 1928.
He didn’t feel suited for farm life and left home at age of 15 to go to California. He made it to New Mexico where he worked for the Forest Service hauling timber to build a mountain railroad. When that was finished, he moved on to Phoenix, AZ where he worked at the Air Force base. Although he got a social security card that stated he was one year older than he was, they still would not allow him to join. He left Phoenix and on his way to Washington State, he won a motorcycle in a poker game. Once in Washington, he opened a window washing business.
However, his goal was always to join the military so he returned to Oklahoma. He was inducted into the United States Army in 1947. He served for the next 26 years. He was an Airborne Ranger medic with the 4th Division Airborne Ranger Division in the Korean War. He was severely wounded by mortar fragments in 1951 and spent two years in an upper body cast with multiply surgeries to his left shoulder. In 1968-1969 he served with a Supply Division during the Vietnam War. He was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star as well several awards and citations for his service and bravery.
Leonard has always had artistic leanings and created many things for his family’s enjoyment. For Christmas of 1963 he drew and cut out life sized reindeer and Santa and painted all showing distinct personalities to decorate the lawn in Security, Colorado.
In approximately 1970, Leonard combined his excellent mechanical and artistic knowledge to restore long forgotten cars. His first project was a purchase of a 1928 Model A with suicide doors. It was in pieces and had spent 5 years in his cousin’s shed. His daughter shook her head and walked away. Although she knew he could fix anything with a motor, she could not imagine this junk ever being a car.
His restoration of the vehicle was meticulous. He started with all parts that were wooden. He made patterns from the rotting pieces and made all new ones by hand. The rest of the vehicle received as much attention. His favorite story about this car is that he is older than the car; when the car came off the assembly line, the chassis was stamped July 27, 1928.
Leonard went on to restore several model As as well as a 1960 MGA complete with rag top and hard top, a 1962 Buick Electra and a 1981 Mercedes Benz 380SL. Leonard has been generous with his time, knowledge and tools. Besides his son, son-in-law and grandsons, he has taught many how to work on and restore these parts of United States motoring history for future generations to enjoy.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Edna J. (Jackie), his parents, Benjamin and Olga Penner Koop, his brothers Clifford, Clarence, Alfred and Benjamin and his sisters Eva, Freida, Clara, Olga and Lorene. He is survived by his son Leonard V. Koop, Jr. (Jennifer M. Strong), his daughter, Lewana J. Shearer (Patrick L. Shearer), and his brother Wilmer Dean Koop. He is also survived by his grandsons Stewart D. Schmidt (Cara M. Purcell) and Egan P. Shearer (Gina R.Moore), his granddaughters, Laura E. Koop and Katherine M. Koop and his great-grandchildren, Connor S. Schmidt, Luke P. Shearer and Elle L. Shearer.