Anita L. Coppens, born on January 10th, 1941, in Philadelphia to her parents, Edward Laub and Helen Kalpokas Laub, has left an indelible mark on those fortunate to know her. She peacefully departed this world on February 6th, 2024, leaving a legacy of love, compassion, and selflessness.
Anita was raised in Essington, Pa, alongside her two older brothers, Walter and Edward Laub. The family moved from Philadelphia to Essington to care for her paternal grandmother, settling in her home near the Delaware River. In this turn of events, she unknowingly set the course of her destiny, living next door to the boy who would become her husband, Joseph Coppens.
In 1958, Anita married Joseph, affectionately known as Joey, and they began their journey together on the corner of 2nd and Carre Ave. The young couple started their family while renting the 2nd-floor apartment above Joey’s parents’ store. Their first daughter, Helen, was born in January 1960, and their second daughter and namesake, Anita Jr., was born in January 1965. Eventually, Joe and Anita Sr. purchased the store affectionately known as Coppens’ Hoagies and Steaks, which they owned and operated for over 30 years. The establishment became a staple in the community, touching the lives of many.
Anita was a devoted wife and mother and a pillar of strength and kindness in her community. She faced the challenging decision to close the store when she prioritized caring for her mother, who battled Alzheimer’s for a decade. During this time, Anita devoted much of her time and energy caring for the community’s feral cat population as well as funding the sterilization of many of these cats. Anita cared for these cats daily during her lifetime.
Additionally, Anita nurtured the wildlife around her, feeding birds and squirrels daily and caring for injured wildlife crossing her path. Throughout her lifetime, she lovingly nursed baby squirrels, birds, possums, and more back to health. When the care required extended beyond her capabilities, she would selflessly drive an hour away to take them to the Philadelphia Metro Wildlife Center in Norristown for rehabilitation.
She was the family’s constant, their touchstone, always improving things. Known for her quiet acts of love, Anita served her family, friends, and community with unwavering dedication. Her home-cooked meals were not only reserved for her family but extended to neighbors and friends. She would drive meals to their homes, which many affectionately called their personal meals on wheels. Her generosity knew no bounds.
A remarkable aspect of Anita’s life was her dedication to sending monthly cards to those who were sick or going through difficult times, offering comfort and support. Her greatest legacy, however, lies in her commitment to prayer. Anita prayed daily for her family, friends, and neighbors, instilling the importance of faith and its strength in her daughters.
In honor of Anita Sr.’s life, and in lieu of flowers, her family asks us to nurture a servant’s heart and strive to follow in her footsteps. Serve someone lonely, help the isolated, send cards to the sick and forgotten, extend kindness to community cats, pray for others, support those in need, and care for the creatures that share our world. Let Anita’s servant’s life inspire us all to be beacons of light, the constant in our families and communities, for the world needs us now more than ever. In doing so, we can keep Anita’s spirit alive and continue the legacy of love she beautifully crafted during her time with us.
Anita is survived by her daughters, Helen and Anita Jr. She is affectionately remembered by her brother-in-law Louis and Michael Coppens, sister-in-law Elaine Laub and Deidre Collins, granddaughter Dana Trace, three great-granddaughters, many nieces, nephews, and beloved friends.
In addition to the love she leaves behind, Anita joins her parents, Edward and Helen Laub, her beloved husband Joseph, and her brothers, Walter and Edward, in eternal rest. While she may be physically absent from this realm, the impact of her love and servant’s heart will continue to resonate in the hearts of those fortunate enough to have shared in her life. The memories of her kindness, generosity, and unwavering devotion will forever be cherished by her surviving family and friends, a testament to the legacy she leaves behind.
Relatives and friends are invited to her Visitation on Friday, February 16, 2024 from 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. at St. Gabriel Catholic Church, 233 Mohawk Avenue, Norwood, PA 19074 with her Funeral Mass to follow at 11 a.m.
Burial is private