Cover photo for Robert Randall Cope Jr.'s Obituary
Robert Randall Cope Jr. Profile Photo
1943 Robert 2021

Robert Randall Cope Jr.

June 18, 1943 — April 15, 2021

Longtime resident of Sandpoint, Dr. Robert (Randy) Cope, died suddenly on April 15, 2021, while buying baby cabbages to plant in the garden which he had tilled that very morning.

Randy was born in a Naval Hospital in Chelsea, Massachusetts on June 18, 1943.  During the war he travelled the country with his mother, often in train cars along with the soldiers. 

The family then settled into the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area where Randy attended grade school and then high school at Shadyside Academy.  He did his pre-med training at De Paw University in Greencastle, Indiana and returned to Pittsburgh to participate in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine program.  It was there that he met his wife to be, Donna, on a blind date on New Year’s Eve. 

His medical training at the University of Pittsburgh led to an adventure to Liberia, Africa, where he worked in a hospital on a Firestone rubber plantation.  Randy had many unforgettable experiences there including the time that he spent aboard the freighter that took him there.

While attending the UAB School of Medicine in Birmingham, Alabama Randy became active in establishing GASP (Greater-Birmingham Alliance to Stop Pollution) coinciding with the creation of the very first Earth Day. Once Randy completed his Internship, he and Donna tied the knot on October 1st 1970, in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.  The two of them took off for Washington DC where Randy worked at the District of Columbia General Hospital as part of their Methadone Clinic Program.  He and his long time good friend, Mike Davidson, helped organize the Medical Committee for Human Rights which supplied care for all of those involved in the protests and demonstrations during that tumultuous time in DC.

From there, fate took them to West Virginia where Randy worked in the United Mineworkers Medical Clinic.  This was their “back to the land experience,” from living in a squatter’s cabin with no running water, to crossing the Little Coal River each day by rowboat in order to get to the clinic. 

Then it was on to residency training at the University of New Mexico. It was there that they met Bob and Wendy Carlson, who would become their lifelong friends.   After the birth of their first children, the four of them migrated to Sandpoint and thought they had found the most beautiful spot in the world. There they established Internal Medicine Associates in 1977.  Eventually the practice expanded to include doctors Scott Burgstahler and Charles Crane. 

Scouting was a big part of his life, from being the son and grandson of dedicated scouts to playing a major supportive role in his own sons’ scouting experiences.  He loved playing his banjo at Troop 111’s monthly meetings and taking an active role in each of the summer “50 Miler” wilderness hikes.

Music was also a vital part of Randy’s life.  He caught the bug when he was in college, performing in a trio of fellow classmates for whomever would listen. Randy, along with his Dobro and banjo, really loved getting together on Thursday nights to jam with his Bluegrass group, Café Gas, and others who would join them…always so supportive of each other. 

Beloved by many, Randy is survived by his wife of 50 years, Donna Cope; his sons, Jonathan and Jeremy Cope (Elisabeth and grandchildren, Maia, Jonas and Elias); his sister, Cathy Fryer (Eddie); and other extended family members.

Randy had a love for the work he performed as a physician, but also cared deeply for all creatures and the environments they occupied.  In his honor, and in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Nature Conservatory, the Sierra Club, or the Natural Resources Defense Council.

We hope to gather with friends and relatives on July 31st to hold a real celebration of the life that Randy had lived, with great music and food for all to enjoy.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Robert Randall Cope Jr., please visit our flower store.

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