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Nina Coppens

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Nina Coppens Obituary
Nina M. Coppens

Nina M. Coppens, 62, of Nashua, NH and Stowe, VT, died at home Thursday, April 18, 2013 after a long struggle with Anaplastic Astrocytoma, a form of brain cancer.

Nina was born in Lafayette, IN on May 19, 1950, daughter of the late Aletha (Cooley) Reifel and the late Conrad Reifel. She graduated from Sheldon High School and furthered her education at Northern Illinois University where she earned Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Nursing. Nina later studied at the University of New Hampshire where she earned a Doctorate in Psychology.

Growing up among the corn, soy beans, and animals on Green Top Farm, Nina loved to run barefoot in the creek, carry kittens in her pockets, and care for her horse Buttermilk.

Her freshman year in college, Nina went to a party with a friend, Connie, where she discovered she did not like beer, but did meet Connie's older brother, Paul, who was happy to take Nina's beer tokens off her hands, take her to see the movie The Graduate a few days later, and ultimately take her hand in marriage.

Nina and Paul both were employed at the University of Massachusetts Lowell where Nina began her career as a faculty member in the Nursing Department. As a professor, she later transferred to the Psychology Department, which she chaired for many years before being named dean of the College of Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. She was recognized as an outstanding teacher and champion of diversity with a strong interest in the Cambodian community and especially the Angkor Dance Troupe.

As a mother, Nina was a model of love, compassion, and hard work who inspired her daughters to follow in her footsteps and become educators.

Nina was filled with unassuming grace and intelligence. She believed in thank you cards, surprise "care packages," putting others first, and doing a job the right way even if it's the hard way. She loved local art, travel, playing cards (from bridge to euchre), tulips, butterflies, the Green Mountains of Vermont, going to the movies, painting with watercolor, her dogs (even though, as she often said, "Kittens are the cutest animals.") apple pie, her mom's homemade noodles, and especially her wide extended family.

Her dislikes were few but included white rice, mushrooms, and pretentious people.

During the last weeks of her life, more than anything, Nina loved cuddling with her new granddaughter, Aurea. Her wish to be a grandmother came true.

Nina gave a final gift to the world of medicine and education by donating her brain to Massachusetts General Hospital in hopes of furthering research toward a cure for brain cancer.

Nina is survived by her husband of 41 years, Paul Coppens; daughter Lindsay Coppens and her fiancé Richard Cummings of Worcester, MA; daughter Katie Coppens and her husband Andrew McCullough of Portland, ME; infant granddaughter Aurea McCullough; brother Keith Reifel; and many in-laws, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, and cousins. She is previously deceased by her brother, Duane Reifel.

Visiting hours will be held at the O'Donnell Funeral Home, 276 Pawtucket St, Lowell, MA on Tuesday, April 23, 2013 from 4 to 8 o'clock with an opportunity to publicly share memories at 6:30.

Nina requested that in lieu of flowers, friends and family consider donating to the "Dean Nina Coppens Endowed Scholarship Fund" to support deserving students in the College of Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Donations should be made out to "Dean Nina Coppens Endowed Scholarship Fund" and mailed to the Office of Advancement, University of Massachusetts Lowell, One University Avenue, Lowell, MA 01854 or online at E-condolences/directions at Arrangements by Funeral Directors James F. O'Donnell, Jr. and John W. Crane (978 or 866) 458-8768.

Published in the Journal & Courier from Apr. 20 to Apr. 21, 2013
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