ROGER OPP MEMORIAL

Roger Leroy Opp
   September 8, 1940 - April 14, 2020
 
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Whether you knew him in the classroom or on the basketball court, Roger Opp made a lasting and profound impact on countless School of Mines students, faculty and staff.  Roger lived life with such enthusiasm and a passion that came out in everything that he did. While countless lives were impacted by his dedication to helping and serving others, his wife Betty, pointed out how much his interactions with others enriched Roger’s life as well. 

To honor Roger’s legacy, along with the steadfast support of his wife, the Roger & Betty Opp Academic and Roger & Betty Opp Athletic Memorial Scholarships have been established. If you are one of the many people whose life was made better because of Roger, we hope that you will consider donating to either one or both of these endowed scholarships so that Roger’s name and legacy will live in perpetuity.

Sincerely,
Toni Logar & Ed Corwin

Contact Elizabeth Sailer at elizabeth.sailer@sdsmt.edu for more information .

Have you considered a multi-year commitment?
You have the option of making a multi-year commitment to supporting the Opp Memorial Scholarship(s). You have the option to make monthly, quarterly or annual gifts for a defined period of time or it can continue until you tell us to stop.

Do you work for a matching gift company?
You can double or even triple the impact of your gift by using your company’s matching gift program. Visit with your Human Resources department to find out how to take advantage of one of your most important benefits.  The simply include your company’s matching gift form along with your tax-deductible donation.

Obituary
Roger Leroy Opp, our husband, father, brother, grandfather, uncle, great uncle, and professor passed away April 14, 2020 in Rapid City, South Dakota from causes incident to Cardiac Amyloidosis. Ultimately, his heart wore out, but not without a long, concerted fight. Roger touched many lives through interactions with his family, his students, his fellow professors, the basketball players of South Dakota School of Mines & Technology (SDSM&T), and the baseball players of Post 22 in Rapid City. Our husband and dad was a relentless learner and perfectionist, even learning how to operate his first cell phone in the final 3 weeks of his life.

Roger was born on September 8, 1940 in Long Lake, South Dakota. As the oldest son of a long line of homesteaders, he learned the value of hard work on the family farm. The people in the area told his parents that “he was a smart one” and should be allowed to focus on his schooling. He was sent to Leola, SD as a 14 year old boarding student where he finished high school in 1958. He went on to Northern State College in Aberdeen, SD, and finished his Bachelor’s Degree in Education in 1962, the first in his family to complete a college degree. A Master’s Degree in Mathematics from SDSM&T followed in 1965.

He married his college sweetheart, Betty Jean Brockel, in June of 1962. They were married for 57 years and had three children together. Roger had several hobbies, many of which he focused on to the point of obsession. Umpiring Post 22 baseball games, timekeeping at SDSM&T basketball games, playing bridge, completing crossword puzzles, and feeding the birds were all important pastimes. Mostly, though, he was a family man…we can’t remember him missing any of our ball games or other school activities. He was always available to play catch or tutor us (but only if we had “attempted to solve the problem” first).

Many people in the local community will remember him as “Screaming Opp” from behind home plate and in front of the chalk board …he was a dedicated Math and Computer Science Professor at SDSM&T for 40 years, winning Professor of the Year honors in 1985. He truly loved the classroom. He was a natural teacher and prided himself for never having “canned” lecture notes nor using a past exam. His oldest daughter, Susan, kidded him repeatedly for the B+ that he gave her in Assembly Language. Many past students would tell us that Roger was the best professor that they ever had. We believe them. Susan can attest to it with her firsthand experience, too.

A few examples of Roger’s many accomplishments: His induction into both the SDSM&T Sports Hall of Fame and the Rapid City Sports Hall of Fame which acknowledged his three plus decades at the Scorer’s Table for over 500 Men’s and Women’s SDSM&T Hardrocker Basketball games. When bestowed with this honor, Roger was quoted as saying, "Service to the students, both academically and athletically, was important to me. Seeing a student in the classroom and then on the playing field allowed me to see both sides of the educational experience." A few years later, a Computer Science Laboratory dedicated to Professor Opp was endowed by a former student’s company in his memory. This Director of Software Engineering had struggled as a non-traditional student and had received many hours of dedicated assistance from Professor Opp in Pre-Algebra and Trigonometry. The “Opp Lab” is a lasting testament to Roger’s dedication to his profession.

Roger is survived by his wife, Betty; his two surviving children, Susan (Evan Deneris), Stacey (Michael) Arens; his daughter-in-law Dee; six grandsons: Andrew and Zach, Colin and Camrin, Jacob and Isaac; his sister Darlane (Larry) Hoffman, his brother Calvin (Becky), his sister-in-law Nila Kraft, as well as 4 nieces, 1 nephew, 2 great nieces, and 6 great nephews. His former students should also be counted amongst his surviving family. He was preceded in death by his son, Stuart, his parents, Arthur and Anna (Kirschman) Opp, and his grandparents.


Video from the archives