The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Theodore W. Kaye (Kopecko)

 

HAYWARD, Wis. - Eighty years ago, when Luther L. Wright High School won its first Upper Peninsula basketball championship in 1937, the captain of the team was Theodore "Ted" Kopecko. Ted, who later changed his last name to Kaye, passed away March 24, 2017, in Hayward, at the age of 98.

As a senior in 1937, Ted helped Ironwood defeat Ishpeming 17-15 in four overtimes to capture the Class B U.P. title. Ted also competed in track and field.

Ted was born in Ironwood on Nov. 15, 1918. After two years at Gogebic Junior College, he moved to Chicago, and with a strong interest in radio and electronics, he took a job at Stewart Warner. There he met Dorothy "Dottie," and they married on Feb. 5, 1944.

Ted was able to use his electronics knowledge while serving with the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II. His family background in speaking Russian and Polish also enabled him to do some translation work for U.S. forces during the war.

In 1952, the Kaye family moved to Northbrook, Ill., which at that time was just a small village about 25 miles north of Chicago, and Ted soon left his job in the city to begin his own television repair business - Kaye's TV Service, which he operated for about 40 years.

During this time, Ted never forgot a dream that began when he was in high school and worked summers at a resort in northern Wisconsin. So, in 1961, he and Dottie purchased Liberty Lodge Resort in Hayward. From that time on, the Kayes ran Liberty Lodge, which still is owned and operated by the family in a limited way. One of the keys to keeping Liberty Lodge going was the fact that Ted could repair, build or rebuild almost anything on the property.

Ted and Dottie lived half of the year in Illinois, but from May to October all through the 1960s into the early 2000s, they welcomed dozens and dozens of families who planned their summer vacations around a week or two at Liberty Lodge. After awhile, it was not uncommon for many of those early families' children to bring their own children back to Liberty Lodge.

Ted, who loved to fish, had returned again last year for another summer in Hayward before moving to Aspen Acres Assisted Living in July. His ashes will be scattered at Liberty Lodge.

He is survived by Dottie, his wife of 73 years; his son, Daniel (Susan), of Northbrook; two grandchildren, Jeffrey and Kristin; and many nieces and nephews, including Bill, Pete and Chuck Kopecko, and Ron Dishaw. Pete Kopecko, a 2015 inductee into the Ironwood Area Sports Hall of Fame, was a starter on the 1960-'61 Ironwood team that won the second U.P. championship in the school's history.

Ted was preceded in death by his daughter, Dollyne; his parents; two brothers, Lloyd and Stanley; and three sisters, Della, Bertha and Helen. Ted was the last of his generation in his family.

 
 

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