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HomeNewsLocal newsRodney Koopmans, Director of My Brother’s Table, Dies

Rodney Koopmans, Director of My Brother’s Table, Dies

The Rev. Rodney Koopmans with his grandson Aiden Hiller and wife Janie Koopmans.
The Rev. Rodney Koopmans with his grandson Aiden Hiller and wife Janie Koopmans.

Parishioners at St. Croix Reformed Church this Sunday morning will miss the benediction given by the Rev. Rodney J. Koopmans, in which he urged them, as he held his hands high, to go forward into the world in peace. Koopman’s died unexpectedly early Tuesday at the age of 71.

He will also be missed in many other parts of the community. He was the director of My Brother’s Table, a soup kitchen in Frederiksted that serves the homeless a noon meal Monday through Friday. He was also active in the Interfaith Coalition on St. Croix and started Jazz Vespers at the church. He was also on the board of directors at King’s Hill School for about 15 years. The school, run by his wife Janie, was closed after 15 years after the Hovensa Refinery closed.

He had awakened at midnight Monday and told his wife he couldn’t catch his breath. She drove him to the hospital, but by the time they arrived, he was gone. The doctors believe it may have been a blood clot that originated in his lungs and are referring to it as a cardiac incident.

The Rev Rodney Koopmans at the 2012 groundbreaking for the church wind turbine.
The Rev Rodney Koopmans at the 2012 groundbreaking for the church wind turbine.

He had been the pastor at the Reformed Church for almost 20 years. Before that he had been a pastor in Fishkill, New York, for 15 years. Before that he was a pastor in the country of Oman.

He told his wife, with whom he had celebrated a 50th anniversary last year, that he never thought about retirement, he said, because. “I love what I do.”

His son Dirk, who flew in from Germany this week, said in an interview about his father, “He firmly believed in a church for everybody.”

He said his father mentored the first female pastor in the Reformed Church because he believed in her ability.

Koopmans was often on the vanguard of those promoting the rights of all people. During his college years, during the civil rights movement, he went into the South to help register blacks to vote. On St. Croix, he was one of the few pastors to officiate at same-sex marriages.

In his sermons he often mentioned how blessed he felt to be living on St. Croix. One of the successful projects he promoted was the installation of a 10-kilowatt wind turbine at the church on top of the hill in La Reine in 2012. His goal in that project was not to “save the church money,” but to redirect the money to charitable efforts more worthy than paying an electric bill. One of those efforts was the donation of a copy machine to Alfredo Andrews Elementary School.

Rose Carty, manager of My Brother’s Table, said they closed in memory of Koopmans on Thursday. She added, “He was a good spirit and was a good hearted person.

For pleasure, Koopman’s liked to play golf, but did not find much time for it in recent years. He was a fan of P.G. Wodehouse, the English humorist, and had read most of his novels.

He was born in Wisconsin and attended Western Theological Seminary in Michigan. He met Janie their first day of college. Besides his son, Dirk, he has a daughter, Lara Koopmans- Hiller.

A memorial service for Koopmans is set for 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Reformed Church. Donations can be made in his memory to My Brother’s Table, RR01, Box 6125, Kingshill, VI 00850

The benediction with which he ended church services was, “May the Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.”

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  1. Rev Ron inspired me the moment we met while I was volunteering at My Brother’s Table. He was bigger than life but went about his missions with quiet grace and wisdom. He was a man ahead of his time with an open heart for all humans. He will be missed deeply but is on to greater things in his journey. Thank you Ron

  2. We knew Rod when he was our pastor in Fishkill, NY. We had the pleasure of visiting him and his family in St. Croix. He was a great pastor, a true man of God. Our thoughts and prayers are with Janie and their family. May the Lord bless hem and keep them.

  3. I have always had only the highest regard for Rod Koopman who I knew years ago in our days at Western Theological Seminary and we were both from Wisconsin. My regards to Janie and their family and the extended Koopman family (as I also know his brother Sherwin quiet well). Rod was open to a broader understanding and belief in God’s love and grace and his words, his actions, and his life were all witness to his faith in God and the saving grace of Jesus. I am confident Rod’s spirit will live on in the lives of his family and the people he ministered to over his career in ministry. Thanks Rod for your faithful and expansive witness. Peter J. Theune

  4. My husband Charlie and I met Rod and Janie in the 70’s. We were all very young with very young children and we had just moved to New York State. Rod was the pastor of the Gardiner reformed church and Janie orchestrated many organizations affiliated with their church. We were Catholics so we were parishioners of st. Charles Borremeo in Gardiner as well. We were drawn to Rod and Janie because of their gracious hospitality when we attended an event at their church and also their generosity of their time they contributed to all of Gardiner townspeople. They were loved, respected, and truly missed when they left. This last fall we had the absolute pleasure of seeing Rod and Janie when they visited Gardiner, New York thanks to Mathew Goodnow who he and his grandpa Dr. Goodnow r dear friends with the Koopman’s. We will be eternally grateful that we had this opportunity. Our prayers, thoughts, and hearts go out to Janie and their family.

  5. What a heartbreaking shock to learn of Rod’s passing! He was the most insightful, kind, and compassionate man of God I ever knew! His sermons here in Fishkill, NY, seldom failed to move me to tears, and it seemed like he was speaking to me and only me, but of course everyone in the entire congregation felt that way, I’m sure. I will be forever honored that he was the man who baptized my two sons. My most heartfelt condolences and prayers to Janie and their children, as well as all of his parishioners on St. Croix who have such an impossibly large hole to fill now. God’s peace and love to you all.