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URBANA — Harold Eugene Lopeman, 97, of Urbana passed away at 11:20 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019, at Amber Glen Special Care Center.

 Visitation will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 16, 2019, and funeral will be at 1:30 p.m. at First United Methodist Church in Urbana. The Rev. Robert Freeman will officiate. After the funeral, a 21-gun salute and taps will be played. A private interment will take place at Mount Hope Cemetery on Nov. 18.

Harold was born Dec. 13, 1921, in Pontiac to Frank Ernest and Vada Belle (Teal) Lopeman. His parents, three brothers and three sisters preceded him in death. Their names were Harriett, Verla, Evelyn, Edward, Howard and Noble.

He is survived by a son, Scott Lopeman; and a daughter, Nancy Lopeman. 

Harold's life was saved as a baby by a man who was walking outside the family home.

Harold graduated from Pontiac High School in 1939 where he met and later married Mabel Irene Russell on June 18, 1944, at the Methodist Church in Topeka, Kan. Mabel survives. They celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary in 2019.

During World War II, Harold served as a radio operator gunner on a B-24 bomber in the 450th Bomb Group in the Army Air Corps, which became the 15th Air Force. 

His brother Howard was in the Marines. and Noble was in the Seabees. His brother-in-law, Fritz Cloos. was in the Army.

Harold received a technical degree at Valporaiso Technical Institute in 1947. He also attended the University of Illinois until his father was dying of cancer, and he had to leave to help take care of him and his mother.

He worked for WTAX and WCVS radio stations in Springfield as an engineer with Mike Walden, who later announced for the University of Illinois, USC, UCLA, Wimbledon and the San Diego Padres. Mike wanted him to follow him wherever he went. Mike is in the radio Hall of Fame and USC's Hall of Fame.

In 1949, his sister Harriett saw an ad in the Chicago Tribune for an "electronic brain." Harold took the position taking a $250 pay cut to work on ORDVAC.

He was a pioneer in computers at the University of Illinois. He was honored in Chicago as one of 100 people working on computers prior to 1954. He worked on ORDVAC, ILLIAC I, II and IV. ORDVAC was one of the first computers in the nation and is in the Smithsonian Institute. He was a supervisor at the Digital Computer Laboratory and was sent all over the country to learn how to fix the various computers of that time. He usually brought his family with him. He then taught others how to fix them.

He retired from the University of Illinois in 1982 with 33 years of service.

When their son was born with medical problems, his doctor said he needed to swim in warm water. His lawyer asked him to build a swim club for the community that had heated water instead of a backyard pool. Windsor Swim Club opened in 1966 and was sold in 2009. 

The Lopemans were longtime members of First United Methodist Church of Urbana, American Legion Post 71 and the Exchange Club.

They loved to travel, visiting all 50 states, all Canadian provinces, England, Scotland and a Copper Canyon, Mexico, train trip. They went on two cruises to the Caribbean and South America.

The family's favorite destination was Hawaii. In the four trips to Hawaii, they visited all of the main islands. They attended the Big Island Classic and the Maui Invitational. They loved to go on trips with Elderhostel.

They loved to dance and had a class at the club in the off season.

They had season tickets to the Fighting Illini football and basketball games. They attended volleyball games. They went to many bowl and tournament games. 

They were founding members of the O.U.R. Group to fight for NCAA reform. They attended two Fnal Fours handing out literature. Their daughter attend four. They loaned the money to get the literature produced. 

They loved music, especially Dixieland jazz. They were friends of Dan Perrino and attended many Medicare 7,8,9 concerts.

They loved to go to shows at the Assembly Hall and the Sunshine Dinner Theater.

Memorial contributions may be made to First United Methodist Church or the Exchange Club.

Condolences may be offered online at www.renner-wikoffchapel.com.

 

 

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