Dr. Dan F. Kopen: A Radiant Face of America

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Photographs by Tony Mussari, Sr
Copyright 2015
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD
The Face of America Project

Great men show politeness in a particular way; a smile suffices to assure you that you are welcome, and keep about their avocations as if you were a member of the family. John James Audubon

In 2011, Kitch and I were presented with one of the biggest challenges of our life. It was the day Dr. Dan Kopen told Kitcha_118DrK she had breast cancer. At the time, we knew Dr. Kopen by his reputation. During the next four years, we would get to know Dr. Kopen as a member of our family.

As a physician, Dr. Dan Kopen was a perfect partner in our battle with cancer. He was caring, compassionate and competent. He was available, and he treated Kitch like a patient not a client. He gave us confidence that everything would turn out well.

He once described the cornerstone of his medical practice with these words: “Treat every patient like they are members of the family.”

Whenever we were with him in his office, his surgical center, DK KL2msmin our garden, at Candy’s Place (The Center for Cancer Wellness) or at a local restaurant, he was the personification of gentleness, goodness and kindness. He understood and he respected the insight that a person does not get cancer. A family gets cancer. He wanted to lessen our fears and give us hope.

Henri Nouwen’s beautiful words accurately describe our medical relationship with Dr. Kopen:

The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of confusion or despair… who can tolerate not knowing… not healing… not curing…who can be patient with our human imperfections and our anxieties…the person who refuses to give up on us when we are in the dark house…the person who reaches out to ease the pain and uncertainty that is a friend indeed.

We are blessed to be able to say that these priceless words also describe our friendship with Dr. Kopen.

The Measure of His Greatness

When President Harry Truman spoke these words, he was describing Dan Kopen:


In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves…self discipline with all of them came first.

When Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote these words, he was describing Dan Kopen:

Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force – that thoughts rule the world.

President Dwight David Eisenhower emphasized six qualities Dan Kopen possessed:

The qualities of a great man are vision, integrity, courage, understanding, the power of articulation, and profundity of character.

Sir Winston Churchill identified another characteristic of 110_3dkspeakingDan Kopen with this aphorism:

The price of greatness is responsibility.

Benjamin Franklin penned a thought that identifies the essence of Dan Kopen:

There never was a truly great man that was not at the same time truly virtuous.

Edward Gardner gave us another important insight into the life of Dan Kopen:

It’s not what you take but what you leave behind that defines greatness.

Dr. Kopen’s Legacy

On May 26, Dr. Dan Kopen made his way to heaven. After a courageous battle with ALS disease, he left behind a sterling reputation as a husband, father, physician, surgeon, author andDK pict community leader.

His inspirational example will live on in the hearts and souls of thousands of patients who will remember his kindness.

His charitable work will enable serious-minded students to become doctors.

His book, Common Sense Health Care Reform, will continue to provide a blueprint for compassionate patient-based health care.

He was part of a team that created the Welles Street Medical Arts Complex in Forty Fort. He established the breast cancer surgery component of the Welles Street Medical Arts Complex. This medical arts center is a model for integrated medical services for breast cancer patients.

For those of us who were privileged to know him, his life and legacy give truth to the words of G. K. Chesterton:

There is a great man who makes every man feel small. But the real great man is the man who makes every man feel great.


Dr. Dan Kopen was a “real great man.” He was genuine, and he always gave his very best to everyone he met.

For Kitch and me, Dr. Dan Kopen gave life and meaning in actions, not words, to the admonition of Thomas Merton:

Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone- we find it with one another.

In death as in life, Dr. Dan Kopen is a radiant Face of America on its best day. He is admired, respected and loved, and he will always have a very special place in our hearts.

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