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Valpo Remembers

Keith Schoppa

Fall 2023

Keith Schoppa passed away on June 27, 2022, in his summer home in Madison, Wisconsin surrounded by family. He was born in Vernon, Texas, son of Robert and Dorothy (Karcher) Schoppa and grew up in Plainview, Texas, where he was valedictorian of his high school class.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in history from Valparaiso University in 1966, Keith discovered a new academic interest when he received a fellowship to the University of Hawaii’s East-West Center and earned his master’s degree in East Asian History in 1968. He would then go on to receive his Ph.D. in Modern Chinese History from the University of Michigan. 

He was united in marriage to Beth Braaten ’66 on July 14, 1968 in the Chapel of the Resurrection. A member of the Valparaiso University faculty from 1968 to 1998, he was the first to teach courses in East Asian History and helped to establish an East Asian Studies Program, which he chaired for 11 years, in addition to serving as chair of the history department for 19 years.  

In 1998, Keith was named Doehler Chair in Asian History at Loyola University Maryland, where he enjoyed teaching until his retirement in 2014. He loved the camaraderie of his history department colleagues and a teaching load which permitted more time for research and writing. At Loyola he received the Nachbar Award in recognition of Outstanding Scholarly Achievement in the Humanities from the Center for the Humanities. After his retirement, he remained an active scholar and author, publishing his last book, “The Twentieth Century: A World History,” in 2021.

Throughout his life, Keith loved music, whether it was playing the organ and piano in church throughout his youth, playing the trombone in high school, singing in his church choir, or attending symphony performances and choral concerts. Other strong interests were politics, current events, film, art, theater, and literature, and he enjoyed his years participating in the Valparaiso University Christ College Alumni Reading and Discussion Group.

He was an active church member, both at Immanuel Lutheran in Valparaiso, and most recently at Divinity Lutheran in Towson, Md., where he served as Council President for several years. His children and grandchildren provided him with great joy, and he loved recent summers at his Madison home, where he was able to spend time with his grandchildren and where he also enjoyed St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church. 

Keith is survived by his wife, Beth; children, Kara (Bobby) Cobbs ’03 M.Ed., Derek (Ondrea Tucci) Schoppa and Heather (Dave) Bernhard; grandchildren, Laurel Schoppa, and Noah, Luke and Eli Bernhard; sisters, Janis (Sam) Nafzger, Nancy (Jamey Nordby) Duensing and Karen Hengst; sister-in-law, Debbie (Cliff Yarosh) Schoppa; step-grandchildren, Rhyann Whaley and Alexandria Tucci-Rugg, and many nieces, nephews and other relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Randy Schoppa ’73; and brother-in-law, Earnie Hengst.

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