Snapshot: Shirley Kopnicky
Occupation: After graduating from Harding High School in Bridgeport, class of 1948 (we just celebrated our 70th reunion), I worked for Pullman and Comley lawyers for five years as a legal secretary. After leaving to take care of my family, I finally went back into the work force in 1977 and worked for Ethan Allen Headquarters in Danbury for 31 years as a secretary/coordinator in the merchandising department. I retired in 2009.
Family: I grew up in Bridgeport. I have a sister, Doris, and a brother-in-law, Rudy, who now live in Georgia. I met my husband, Robert Kopnicky, at the Pleasure Beach Ballroom in Bridgeport. We were married in 1953, for 47 years, until his death in 2001 after a long illness. We had two sons — Alan, who now lives in Ohio, and Steven, who lives in Newtown. I have two grandchildren, who have spouses, and nine great-grandchildren that all live in Ohio. I am also close to my Kopnicky relatives.
Pets: None now, but at one time, we owned 16 greyhounds and groomed them for racing. It was a lot of work, but they are beautiful animals. When their retirement came, we got good homes for all of them and kept two for our pets. They were wonderful companions for my husband, especially after he had a stroke.
How long have you lived in Newtown? My husband built our home in Newtown in 1957. We bought a three-acre parcel with two other Kopnicky brothers, and we each built on one acre — we were in the middle. The third brother eventually moved here, only five minutes away. We all had many parties over the years and celebrated any occasion we could think of to get all of our family and friends out to Newtown. When my home got to be too much for me to handle, I researched retirement apartments in the area and discovered Nunnawauk Meadows. It was just what I wanted. I’ve lived here for five years, making me a Newtowner for a total of 61 years.
What do you like to do in your free time? In addition to my two art classes and drawing class, I am also interested in gardening, poetry, bingo, keno, Pokeno, LCR, and crafts, which includes rock painting.
What is the best part about Newtown? The people are friendly and helpful, especially in stressful situations. There is always someone around you can talk to, and of course, they usually know at least one member of the four Kopnicky families that lived here.
Who has been the greatest influence in your life? My daughter-in-law, Mary. When I visited Alan in Ohio, she took me all over the place. She taught me how to speak in front of a group of people. I never could do that, especially without fear. She could be a leader without having any papers in front of her. I miss her very much. She died in 2004 after a long sickness. My parents were also a great influence in my life, and I had a very happy childhood, even though it was during the Great Depression and wartime.
If you could spend the day with one person, who would you choose and why? My mother. She was a very busy lady for someone who could not drive a car, but she always managed to get to where she wanted to go. She was very much into church, flowers, and crafts. She taught my sister and me many things — from making lifesaver dolls to wax flowers to puppet dolls for sick children. She loved to do poetry on cards to give to others. She reminded me of Mother Teresa, which was also her name.
Who is your favorite musical artist? Without a doubt, Jerry Vale. My husband and I had every record and CD he ever did, and we even saw him perform twice at the Round Theater in Oakdale, Conn.
What is your favorite quote? Psalm 23 from the Bible. [The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want...]
What is something you cannot live without? The love and encouragement of my many friends and family members.
What is your proudest accomplishment? Looking back on my life’s experiences and outcomes, I would try to accomplish the same things all over again if I had the chance — only better. Also, I always wanted to have a one-woman art show with my acrylic paintings, and that day came last year due to my art teacher, Lynn Welsh, and the Newtown Senior Center, who sponsored it.