PINOLE -- Bob Kopp doesn't like to sit and watch TV. At 71, Kopp, who walks with the gait of a much younger man, prefers to stand behind the camera, producing videos pro bono for Pinole Community Television.
The city-owned cable television station supplements broadcasts of City Council meetings and other public meetings with high school sports coverage and some original programming, much of it by Kopp.
Last month Kopp was at the Pinole Senior Center filming a Zumba class. A week earlier, he filmed cooks at work in the kitchen of the senior center, which prides itself on preparing its own food unlike some other senior nutrition programs that serve fare precooked off-premises.
"It's like a commercial for the senior center," Kopp said. "Maybe the film might help to get new members to join."
An electrical contractor by trade, Kopp has lived in Pinole for 45 years and has become one of its biggest boosters.
He serves on the Pinole Community Services Commission and with the Pinole Police/Community Partnership, but mostly he prefers to stay in the background.
That won't be the case for his next big project, BBQ for the Troops, a free dinner for 50 soldiers and their families in Pinole's Fernandez Park in the spring. Kopp is raising funds for it and will be doing a lot of the cooking, too.
"Bob Kopp is a community leader and a hometown hero," Rep. Mike Thompson, whose 5th California Congressional District includes Pinole, said in a statement. "He cares deeply about Pinole and the people who live there. Through his charity work, community service activities and care for our veterans, he makes Pinole a better place to live and raise a family. I'm privileged to know him and to count him as a friend."
Kopp never served in the Armed Forces -- during the Vietnam War, the draft passed him by, he said, because he and his wife, Carol, had a baby -- but he has a soft spot for returning veterans.
It's not that he supports every United States war. He says Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan accomplished little and cost a lot of lives. But he feels strongly that those who served are not sufficiently appreciated and do not get the support they deserve once they return home.
One is likely to see Kopp sooner or later when attending Pinole events. If there is a Pinole Valley High School game or graduation, Kopp is there as a volunteer cameraman. He films the city's Summer Sounds concerts in Fernandez Park and the annual NorCal Cruisers Car Show. He has organized and provided and cooked the food for several Pinole cable TV fundraisers and helps with Pinole's National Night Out Kickoff BBQ.
Kopp recently produced a video for the historical society about the internment of Japanese people in California during World War II, and he films crime-prevention public service announcements that are aired on Pinole cable TV.
For a recent video in collaboration with the Pinole Police Department, Kopp engaged friends to play shoppers in typical but potentially perilous situations: walking through dark parking lots talking on their cellphone, oblivious to potential thieves; or a mother leaving a toddler unattended in the shopping cart while responding to an older child's call for attention.
"Bob is the most civic-minded person I know," said Jeff Rubin, vice chairman of the Pinole Community Services Commission and vice president of the Pinole Historical Society. "While a lot of people talk about the importance of community involvement, Bob is out in the community, as involved as any person could be. He has done so much for so many people and organizations, always quietly, never drawing attention to himself. He's just a very good man who cares about people, and about his city. He has a very good heart."
Kopp's other passions include his Harley motorcycle club and hunting, which he does frequently for boar, elk, deer and antelope. Kopp believes in what he calls "ethical hunting," meaning not for a game animal's horns, but for its meat, none of which is supposed to go to waste. He said he is working out an arrangement with Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco to give it a boar to feed the poor the next time he shoots one, which he plans to do near Red Bluff later this month.
Most important in Kopp's life is his family. His daughter and two of his five grandchildren live across the street from him, and his son and the other three grandchildren live in another part of Pinole. These days Kopp's son and daughter-in-law run the family company, Continental Electric, but he and Carol still help out, he said.
It was Carol who introduced him to video production about six or seven years ago, after she ran into an employee of Pinole Community Television at a crab feed, Kopp remembered. It was the perfect fit.
"I'm lucky. I'm healthy for my age. And I've got a little bit of money," Kopp says, adding that's why he can afford the hobby.
"I never made a dime filming," Kopp said. "I do it because I enjoy meeting people."
Name: Bob Kopp
Claim to fame: Kopp is Pinole's volunteer, semi-official chronicler, producing crime prevention and history-themed videos and recording high school sports events for Pinole Community Television.
Quote: "I never made a dime filming. I do it because I enjoy meeting people."
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