January 19, 2013

Ray Bopp 1925 - 2013

My dad, Rayman Conrad Bopp, Jr. died in his sleep Saturday morning, January 19, 2013. The cause was acute leukemia, stemming from a rare bone-marrow disorder called myelofibrosis for which he was diagnosed following a stroke in 2007. 

Ray & wife Jeanne in 1986 at Vandenberg AFB; photos by Tom Bopp

A Tribute

Dad had a lot of different jobs over his long life, but most recently retired from managing security for special projects in the aerospace industry of southern California for TRW (since absorbed by Northrop Grumman) and before that Hughes Aircraft Co. (Space & Communications) After sending notices of his death to his email list, this tribute came in:

Dear Tom and Diane

That is sad news. Thank you for telling me. Your dad was my security manager for many years at TRW. He was a real team member and often helped out in areas outside his area of expertise just so the security of the nation would remain strong. You, and all of the rest of the people in the United States, should sleep a lot better because of the work that your father did. It is too bad you cannot know the details of what he did but you should know he put the security of the United States of America above all else. And his humor and smile always enlightened people’s day.

I have followed your career through Ray at Yosemite. I climbed there in the 1970s and 1980s, sleeping at Camp 4 on trips to the Valley. You are very fortunate to have such a majestic place to work and to have had such a great father.

  -- David Vandervoet

Vice President, TRW and Northrop Grumman Corp

Among the items Dad kept on his dresser was this card from Mom with a photograph and her inscription on the back:

I think I can safely say that the email and card show two of Dad's greatest achievements - the love he shared with my mom (who died in 1987), and the accomplishments in his career in national security, which remain classified to this day, due much to his own diligence. Beyond that, also on his dresser-tops, walls, and throughout his house were pictures of his family, granddaughters, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, attesting to his great love of his family for whom he provided a safe and stable home.

As time allows, I intend to add pictures and stories as further tribute to my dad, and to memorialize his remarkable life. I request of all who knew him to please email your stories to me so I may reference them on this site.


Tom Bopp

Ray and Jeanne Bopp, May 24, 1952 (colorized) [Dad always carried an original black-and-white print of this in his wallet].

Read all comments here, or follow the links in the CHRONOLOGY below to read specific comments.


Note: Dad told me more than once that he would quit a job if he found himself liking it too much.
Note: Most sources (unless otherwise noted) for residences and employment come from Dad's own employment history files, particularly from job applications and security background questionnaires from the late 1950s - 1970s.

Born in Chicago (on the same day as Johnny Carson). Sometime after his birth and before 1936, he and his family lived upstairs in his mother's parents' home (out of financial necessity) at 12119 South Peoria, in a frame house constructed by his grandfather Martin Koch.

1936 - 1938
Residence: 7457 Bennett Ave.

[Date undetermined]
Residence: 19 1/2 E. 72nd Place. This address doesn't show up in Dad's employment history files, but he told me in an interview (Nov. 2012) that the family lived here at the time he was given a pith helmet and a broken rifle from a relative - Mr. Fernald - who was clearing out junk to throw into a trash heap. The "junk" included a crystal regulator clock. In the same interview he said that the family moved from this residence during the time he was a patient at La Rabida (see upcoming listing).
Reminiscence: The Clock  

1938 - 1939
Spent 5-6 months in La Rabida Hospital for investigation of heart disease after scarlet fever.

1938 - 1/1940
Residence: 69 W. 72nd Street

1/1940 - 5/1944
Residence: 7715 Burnham Ave. Note that rents went up on May 1st - thus the succession of moves over the years in that month, and the line from the verse of Rogers & Hart's "Mountain Greenery": "On the first of May, it is moving day..." This residence featured a tall tree that Dad would climb to the top and recline on one of its boughs.
Reminiscence: The Tree  

Attended (and graduated from) Myra Bradwell Elementary School

Attended South Shore High School; dropped out.

Employment: Seagram's Distillers; stockboy. This was in what was then called the Pure Oil Building at 35 East Wacker Drive in Chicago; it was one of his favorite buildings.
Reminiscence: The Pure Oil Building Adventure

Ordered to report for physical exam by Selective Service on 1/24/1944; a letter from Selective Service dated 12/17/1944 certifies he was "rejected for Service in the Armed Forces" due to various physical conditions.

5/1944 - 5/1945
Residence: 7938 Colfax Ave.

2/18/45 – 10/16/45
Employment: Pullman Co., Merchandise Mart Building, Chicago, Ill. employed as a clerk, resigning voluntarily.
[According to Dad, his official position was Vermin Clerk; he told me he took the job mainly so he could claim that he’d once held that position. His job was to process reports of vermin in the Pullman railroad cars. He remembered one report of a lady awakening with a shriek upon finding a sleeping mouse nestled atop the base of her neck to keep warm.]

5/1945 - 6/1950
Residence: 6130 Ingleside Ave.
Employment: around these years he sang at the Crown Propeller Lounge at 63rd and Cottage Grove; he remembered the drummer in the band, Barrett Deems, who for years was Louis Armstrong's drummer. He remembered singing "Penthouse Serenade," "Deep Purple," and a jazzed up version of "Bibbidy-Bobbidy-Boo."

10/1945 - 2/1946 
Employment: Railroad Retirement Board, American Fore Building; Multilith Operator (offset printing, etc.).

2/1946 - 6/1946
Employment: Balaban & Katz; Usher (he didn't remember which theater; I do remember his telling me he was an usher sometime later at Orchestra Hall, Chicago).

6/1946 - 9/1946
Employment: Morrison Hotel, Chicago; Elevator Operator. In a handwritten note Dad indicates he went back to school around this time.

9/1946 - 6/1947
Employment: Gragg Rug Cleaners, 915 E. 7Sth St., Chicago, Ill.; truck driver for Ray Gragg

12/2/1946 – 12/24/1946
Employment: Marshall Field & Co., Chicago, Ill. [He also worked here in 1947-1950, and 1952-1954, according to available records.]

11/14/1947 - 7/17/1948
Military Service: Private, Illinois National Guard (Honorable Discharge; classification 3A)
Employment (June - October 1947): Robertson Brothers Curtain Cleaners, 5726 N. Western, Chicago, Ill.; truck driver.

10/17/1947 – 6/1950
Employment: Marshall Field & Co., Chicago, Ill.
He worked there in shoe sales, where he was friends with Mike Royko who worked there as a stock boy. He also sang in the Marshall Field Choral Society and remembered singing behind featured guest soloists Mario Lanza and Al Jolson. He sang a solo performance in one of their concerts of "Let's Take An Old Fashioned Walk." Choral director Albert P Stewart liked his singing so much that he offered him a scholarship to Purdue University (where he taught), but my dad declined for private reasons. Dad recalled attending a poetry reading, probably accompanied by his friend, Peter Spengler Selby (1916-1986), given by Edith Sitwell (likely during her 1948 U.S. tour),
Reminiscence - Ronald Bopp (brother)

6/1950 – 9/1950
Employment: Associated T. V. Service, Riverside, Calif.
[He installed T.V. antennas; given the rural area, this involved very tall multi-stage mast & guy-wire assemblies.]
Residence (mailing address, June - August 1950): Box 380, Norco, Calif.

9/1950 – 1/1952
Employment: Kaiser Steel Corp., Fontana, Calif. – Fireman & ambulance driver. [He said he left this job to return to Chicago and track down Jeanne Kenney and propose marriage.] Duties included ambulance and first aid service to Riverside County. He received training from the U. S. Bureau of Mines in "The Use and Care of Self-Contained Oxygen Breathing Apparatus."
Residence: 1926 Indianapolis Street, Riverside, CA (This street no longer exists - probably removed when the 91 freeway was constructed).

12/1951 – 2/1952
Employment: Riverside Calif. Post Office
[He told me this was a temporary seasonal job, and was never able to get confirmation from the U.S. Postal Service of his employment with them. He said he thought he remembered that the job was tied to Christmas deliveries.]

2/11/1952 – 1/6/1954
Employment: Marshall Field's Department Store. Though he claimed to be “Unemployed and traveling”during February to March, 1952, according to an employment investigation in 1957, the same report shows that Marshall Field’s employment records have him working there, in Chicago, from 2/11/1952 – 1/6/1954. I think I remember him saying he held down two jobs during this period (see entry for 4/1952).
Residence: for one month, 12119 Peoria St., Chicago
Employment: I'm not sure about just when, but Dad worked with another fellow (I'll update the name and the time period if I find some info on this) repossessing cars for a south Chicago car dealer named Hans Lichtenfeld.
Reminiscence - Repo Man

4/1952 – 11/1952
Employment: Sky Coach Airlines, 36 W. Clark, Chicago, Ill; Dispatcher
[This is when he worked for Sky Coach Airlines, later Trans-Continental, a “non-sched” airline for which he worked as a dispatcher. He wrote more on this and I’ll post it here when I find it.]

3/1952 - 1/1953
Residence: 6036 S. Dorchester (given in an employment questionnaire, this is a block south of the Midway Plaisance; it's corroborated by Jeanne Bopp's Social Security card from that period)

Married Jeanne E. Kenney

9/1952 – 2/1953
Employment: Mandel Brothers, State Street & Madison, Chicago, Ill. Shoe Salesman

1/1953 - 7/1953
Residence: 6038 S. Blackstone Ave. (Address given in a questionnaire).

7/1953 - 10/1955
Residence: 6614 S. Kenwood Ave.

10/1955 - 4/1957
Residence: 7833 Clyde Ave.

2/1953 – 4/1957
Employment: Ford Aircraft Engine Div., 7401 S. Cicero, Chicago, Ill. Fireman, Fire Instructor. Here he delivered a series of sixteen lectures on "Industrial Fire Prevention" (he very much enjoyed giving lecture/demonstrations, and was particularly good at it).

5/1957 - 
Residence: 617 Pine Drive, Torrance, CA

5/6/1957 - 2/1958
Employment: North American Rockwell, Los Angeles International Airport, 1700 East Imperial Hwy, El Segundo, CA; Fireman

2/1958 - 11/1958
Employment: North American Aviation/Atomics International, Department 52, 21600 Van Owen, Canoga Park, California; Fireman - Building Inspection and hazardous operations standby service. Special training included suppression of radioactive and alkali metal fires, and the handling and disposal of radioactive waste. In a resume Dad wrote that the Fire Department had responsibility for a diverse range of some 200 ongoing experiments in nuclear technology. He invented a simple but innovative approach for fire suppression in a sodium reactor experiment which I'll write about later and post here.

10/1959 - 5/1963
Residence: 5604 Bartlett Drive, Torrance, CA

11/1958 - 7/1961
Employment: Hughes Aircraft Company, Centinela & Teale Street, Culver City, CA; Fireman

7/1961 - 8/1961
Unemployed; looking for work.

8/1961 - 9/1961
Employment: Hughes Aircraft Company, Centinela & Teale Street, Culver City, CA; Fireman

9/1961 - 2/1962
Employment: Nortronics Research Center (division of Northrop Corporation), 6101 Crest Road, Palos Verdes, CA; Fireman.

Employment: Hughes Aircraft Company, Centinela & Teale Street, Culver City, CA; Fireman, fire prevention inspector, first-aid instructor, etc.

5/1963 - 1993
Residence: 5520 Arvada St., Torrance, CA

1966 - 1967
Employment: Hughes Aircraft Co.; joins Security Department as Security Inspector; redisignes and implements a security education program, conducts security indoctrination lectures, writes monthly security newspaper "The Security News" distributed to 19,000 employees.

Employment: Hughes Aircraft Co.; Supervisor, Security Special Projects, Services Division, Aerospace Group

Employment: Retires from Hughes, hired by TRW

Retires from TRW

Died 1:14 a.m. January 19th in Oakhurst, CA
Buried 11:20 a.m. March 25th at Pacific Crest Cemetery, Redondo Beach, CA, in the same plot as his beloved wife, Jeanne.
Reminiscence - The Burial