Martin P. Coopey was born May 26, 1911, in Corvallis, the son of Margureth Kaupisch Coopey and Julius Coopey. Martin’s paternal grandfather, Charles, an Englishman, had gone to Australia as a young man, where he became involved in raising sheep. From Australia he came to Portland, Oregon, to open a tailor shop in the late 1890s. While in Portland he acquired a large tract of land in the Columbia River Gorge near Multnomah Falls and had a plan to install a woolen mill there before the Pendleton Woolen Mill was established. Coopey Martin’s father, Julius, came to Corvallis as a young man, and he and his wife purchased a farm near Broo Lane, south of the present Oregon State University campus. Julius was a longtime manager of the Corvallis Creamery. Martin and his two older brothers —Charles Julius, born in 1903, and Raymond Waldemar, born in 1905 — enjoyed riding on the creamery delivery trucks.
Martin graduated from Corvallis High School in 1929, then enrolled at Oregon State Agricultural College in civil engineering. While a student, he became well-known through the Pacific Northwest as the tall and talented drum major for Captain Beard’s marching band. His nickname, “Izzy,” was in part earned or the fancy drills he and a compatriot encouraged and perfected through long hours of practice. He was also a member of Kappa Kappa Psi, the national honor society for band members, and Scabbard and Blade, the national honorary in military science and tactics. He was active in his social fraternity, Phi Sigma Kappa, ROTC, and the Oregon National Guard.
On October 7, 1935, he married Louise Scheel, a home economics major from Stevenson, Washington, whom he had met at Oregon State. Louise was a member of the Phrateres social organization on campus and the Home Economics club. The couple’s first child, Raymond Peter, was born on March 19, 1937. A second son, Lauritz Martin, was born on June 25, 1942. Although both boys were hemophiliacs, they were active in school and the Boy Scouts until their deaths in June of 1955 and June of 1954, respectively. Probably as a result of this double tragedy, Martin served many years as Benton County chairman of the American Red Cross Blood Donation Program and was a member of the state board.
In 1940, Martin was invited to join the civil engineering faculty at Oregon State, where he remained until 1962. While living in Corvallis, Martin also became active in the Corvallis Elks Lodge and served a term, 1949–50, as exalted ruler. His consistent participation in the lodge on a state level resulted in his being elected president of the Oregon State Elks Association. He also was a member of the Washington Chapter Number 18 of the Masonic Lodge and later a member of the Mary’s River Lodge of Corvallis. He was elected as a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers. During summers, he worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In 1957 he graduated from the Institute of Transportation at Berkeley, California.
In 1962, Martin resigned from the faculty at Oregon State to accept a position with the Asphalt Institute as managing director of the southern division, with headquarters in New Orleans, Louisiana. In this position Martin traveled extensively through the fourteen states he represented, and Louise usually accompanied him. He also made frequent trips to Washington, D.C., on business.
In 1975, at the age of sixty-four, Martin retired from the Asphalt Institute and the couple purchased a home from Louise’s sister on the banks of the Siuslaw River in Florence. Louise and Martin spent many happy hours at this beautiful location until Martin’s death in August of 1983.
The Coopey Boys’ Memorial Fund benefits Corvallis students who suffer from physical handicap or serious chronic health problem.