28 Mar Michael Kopp
Michael Duane Kopp of Wilton, North Dakota, a lifelong collector of experiences and adventures, began his last adventure on March 25, 2023. Having secured passage on the eternal heavenly express, paid for by Jesus Christ, Mike leaves behind a legacy of explorations.
I wonder what that’s like?
What would happen if?
What is over that hill, down that road?
Sure, I’ll try that!
Mike D Kopp was born August 1,1953 in Boone, Iowa to Duane and Evelyn (Dutcher) Kopp. A solid rural life in the Des Moines River Valley of Stratford, Iowa taught him the value of hard work, endurance, and inventiveness.
Whether a late-night FM Blues DJ, a building contractor, a truck driver, a graduate college instructor, a television newsman, or a doorman at a lowly bar, Mike found contentment in seeing life from the inside out. He was known for his animated storytelling, his quick sense of humor, and his intense work ethic. Mike’s broadcast voice was legendary.
Mike’s love of the Lord was evident throughout his life. He attended bible college after high school and preached in the Stratford, Iowa area as well as the Bismarck, North Dakota area. Leading youth was one of his passions and he was involved in Lost Timber and Storybook Bible Camps in Minnesota, as well as a horse-riding ministry in the North Dakota Badlands. Very special for Mike was his ministry for inmates at the North Dakota State Penitentiary.
One of Mike’s early vocations was as an iron worker. He took pride in his ability to navigate and work on high steel. He founded Kopp Konkrete Konstruction Company of Stratford, Iowa while attending Iowa State University in Ames, where he majored in Communications and Political Science. He began a student run radio station at ISU. Concurrently he was a sheep farmer on a family farm nearby.
Musically inclined, Mike’s instruments of choice were the trumpet, piano, and guitar. His love of the Blues was apparent when he became a late-night Blues disc jockey.
In 1975 Mike married LaVon Johnson of Pilot Mound, Iowa. A new adventure began with the birth of their son, Caleb, while still living in Iowa. Then came daughter Kharem and another son, Kelsey, after their move to Bismarck, North Dakota. Mike and LaVon later parted ways, being a dad remained Mike’s favorite part of life.
In Bismarck Mike pursued a career in television and radio, working at KFYR, KXMB, and KNDR. His roles included ag reporter, tv anchor, weatherman, political reporter, investigative reporter, and television producer.
Mike earned his master’s degree from the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota. An educator by nature, he was an Instructional Facilitator in Business Management there as well.
As the managing editor of the New Town News in New Town, North Dakota Mike developed the newspaper into an award-winning publication and was honored by the North Dakota Newspaper Association for overall excellence, advertising, photography and writing.
While in New Town Mike worked closely with the Mandan Hidatsa Arikara (MHA) Nation. One of his most cherished honors was being adopted by the Mandan Tribe, and named Mini Shot, or White Horse. He also was an instructor at Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College in New Town.
While later employed with the North Dakota DOT, Mike was the multi-media developer and public information coordinator during the construction of both the Four Bears Bridge in New Town and the Liberty Memorial Bridge in Bismarck. For that work and documentation through video, book, and teachers’ resources about the Rainbow Arch Bridge in Valley City, Mike earned several journalism accolades, including several Telly Awards.
Politically active, Mike worked with the North Dakota senate majority leader at one point and was communications director for a Cramer for Congress campaign.
Mike worked with the Federal Highway Administration where he developed and produced training modules on topics of safety and materials handling. He produced podcasts and audio newsletters for the highway industry which were distributed nationally.
Mike was employed by Forum Communications and Jobs HQ, and Shales Play Media in western North Dakota.
Mike poured himself into the fascinating badlands areas of North Dakota. The badlands regions became his passion and his refuge: his place of peace.
Along with riding Harley Davidsons, it was the Beautiful Badlands of North Dakota that intrigued Mike’s new partner, Mary Lou Tastad, and helped form their relationship together. Explorations and adventures there became their new vocation when they developed Beautiful Badlands ND, a digital entity which promoted western North Dakota and eastern Montana through photographs and stories. They became passionate about the history, culture, terrain, and people of the area.
Whether it was hiking, bicycling or camping in the badlands wilderness, or riding their Harleys across the upper midwest Mike and Mary added adventure after adventure to their new life together. They became inseparable in their love of explorations. In 2017 they were married in the north unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and wer
e surprisingly joined during the festivities by a herd of bison and longhorn cattle, which they had fondly photographed and written about so often. It seemed only appropriate that the herds joined them on such a momentous occasion!
Mike was unshakeable in his faith and devotion to God as well as his undying love for his wife, children, and grandchildren.
Mike is survived by his beloved wife, Mary Lou Tastad, and his children Caleb (Michelle) Kopp of Grandview, Missouri; Kharem (Matt) Currie of Chickamauga, Georgia; Kelsey (Emily) Kopp of Plymouth, Minnesota; and his grandchildren whom he deeply adored, Oliver, Lucy, Judah, Samuel, Elijah, Griffin, Nolan and Evelyn; his sisters DeLayne (Jerry) Noble of Dayton, Iowa; and Paula (Phil) Youngdale of Brandon, South Dakota; and his brother Mark of Des Moines, Iowa.
He was preceded in death by his parents.
Mary Lou and family, we are so very sorry for your loss. Sending prayers for comfort and healing to all. Love, Sandy and Susie Nichols.
I loved working with Mike at KXMB. I am so sorry to hear of his loss. It seems too early but I know he lived every single day to its fullest!
So sorry to hear of Mike’s passing. We crossed paths a number of times, on assignment for our respective news organizations. May he rest in peace.
I am sorry for your loss. Mike was a extraordinary story teller whose talents highlighting the best our state has to offer will be sorely missed. I truly enjoyed every photo and word he shared. I am happy to know that his pain has come to an end. My heart breaks for everyone he left behind that will miss him dearly. I’m sending prayers for comfort and healing.
Thank you Mary for sharing who Mike was and his contributions to people. He was an amazing man!
Beautifully written obituary for a deep and wonderful man.
So sad to see Mike pass. Had just been thinking of him this week. Wonderful obituary. Thoughts and prayers for all of his family and friends!