Friday, August 17, 2007

Clarence Alumni - Dave Wopperer ('74) - RIP

Announcement from cousin Frank Wopperer:

"My cousin, Friend, Business Partner and Confidant of some 41 years, Dave Wopperer, passed away suddenly last evening of a heart attack.

We are all very saddened by this tragic and sudden event. Dave was 51 years old. Dave's father, Chuck, brought him to work when he was 10 years old. As long as Chuck let Dave drive the Fork Truck around he was happy to come to Thermal Foams. Back in those days you could do those things. Dave throughout the years kept coming to Thermal Foams and eventually became President. Thermal Foams is what it is today because of Dave Wopperer. Dave will be sorely missed by me, his family and friends, his business partners and his loyal employees."

From the Buffalo News:

David C. Wopperer of Clarence, who as president of Thermal Foams Inc. was instrumental in developing foam crash guards used at auto racing tracks, died unexpectedly Tuesday in Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Amherst. He was 51.

A retired local race car driver brought the idea of using foam blocks at tracks to Mr. Wopperer in the early 1990s. After experimenting, he came up with 4-by-8-foot blocks of polystyrene foam that dissipate impact by exploding when they are hit.

Marketed as Softwalls, they are used at tracks at Watkins Glen, Lancaster, Oswego, the Poconos and Pike’s Peak, among others.

The company also makes foam products for home insulation, packaging and land stabilization, as well as for use by visual artists around the world.

Born in Buffalo, Mr. Wopperer was a 1974 graduate of Clarence High School, where he played on the football team, and a graduate of Erie Community College.

He had been involved with Thermal Foams while he was still in school. The company was founded by his grandfather, Frank C., in 1959 and then headed by his father, Charles F.

Since Mr. Wopperer became president of the company in 1992, it has tripled in size and has expanded to Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Rochester. He also was an officer and a member of the boards of directors of six family-owned businesses.

Devoted to football all his life, he was the coach of the Clarence Bull Dogs, a Little League football team, and was active with the Clarence High School Football Boosters.

His other passion was barbecue. An expert chef at the grill, last year he was nationally certified as a judge of barbecue competitions.

“Sunday was his fun day,” his wife, Amy, said of his barbecuing, “because he could figure out what to cook or smoke or do something to. It was an adventure to him.”

Surviving are his wife of 23 years, the former Amy Pope; a son, Charles D.; a daughter, Emily J.; his mother, Joan; and a sister, Cheryl DeTamble.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday in Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church, 8500 Main St., Clarence.

WOPPERER-David C. - Suddenly August 14, 2007; beloved husband of Amy P. (nee Pope) Wopperer; dearest father of Emily J. and Charles D. Wopperer; loving son of Joan L. (nee Moss) and the late Charles F. Wopperer; brother of Cheryl (Jim) DeTamble and the late Carol David; brother-in-law of Jim David. David is also survived by many relatives and friends. The family will be present on Thursday from 7-9 PM and on Friday from 2-4 and 7-9 PM at the (Harris Hill Chapel) AMIGONE FUNERAL HOME, INC., 8440 Main Street (near Harris Hill Rd.) where Funeral Services will be held on Saturday at 9:15 AM and a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated from Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church (Harris Hill) at 10 AM. Friends invited. If desired, donations may be made to Clarence Football Boosters, P.O. Box 116, Clarence, NY 14301-0116. Online register book at
Published in the Buffalo News from 8/16/2007 - 8/17/2007.
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