If you are looking for a leading family of physicians, the Kopeckys would surely be at the top of the list.
Dr. Robert Kopecky, the patriarch, shared a medical office in the 2200 block of Shelby Street for 33 years from 1951-84 with the late Dr. John Deever. Between them, they delivered approximately 10,000 babies at St. Francis Hospital over the years.
Kopecky’s son Dr. Kenyon Kopecky is a radiologist at Community Hospital East, and granddaughter Kimberly Kopecky is completing her surgical residency at Stanford University Hospital in California. Kenyon graduated from Indiana University Medical School in 1978, and Kimberly, daughter of Edward and Gwen Kopecky, graduated in 2014 from Harvard Medical School. A third son, Tom, lives in Colorado with his family.
A Cornhusker from Omaha, Neb., Robert graduated from the University of Nebraska School of Medicine in 1948 and did a one-year internship at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. He then attended Michigan University School of Law for 18 months before deciding that he preferred medicine. That’s when he returned to Indianapolis and started his practice with Deever.
Kopecky delivered Jan and Gary Layne’s first baby, Greg, in 1966 and was scheduled to deliver their second one, Stacey, in 1968. But it was a snowy, icy night in January, and Dr. Kopecky slid into a mailbox en route to St. Francis and did not make it on time.
“It was a really scary night,” recalls Jan. “My water broke, and Gary had to help me out to the car because it was so slick. We were afraid we wouldn’t make it to the hospital in time. Stacey was born 12 minutes after Gary got me there. I remember being rolled down the hallway with Stacey, and Gary was still signing me in.
“Dr. Kopecky was a great doctor. I really liked him. He was real personable and a real nice person. His partner, Dr. Deever, was equally nice. Dr. Kopecky was my children’s pediatrician for years.”
Those sentiments about the doctors were commonplace.
“Everybody liked John,” said Milly Kopecky, Robert Kopecky’s second wife of 44 years. “John was a gentleman’s gentleman. He was a lovely man.”
Dr. Kopecky retired from delivering babies in 1984 and held administrative positions with the hospital until 1999.
Milly was the head nurse at St. Francis’ nursery department when she met Kopecky, who became the love of her life. She worked on and off as a nurse throughout her career and went back to school to earn a degree in theology so she could serve as a chaplain at the hospital. Now retired, she volunteers with the hospice program.
“We can’t go anywhere without someone approaching us and saying, ‘Aren’t you Dr. Kopecky?’ Robert is very recognizable because he is still lean and still has some of his hair. He doesn’t always recognize his former patients because they have changed so much, but he remembers their children when they give him their names.”
Greenwood residents for 15 years, the couple previously resided near Thompson Road and Sherman, which was close to the hospital. The Kopeckys, who have nine grandchildren – one of whom is deceased, and three great-grandchildren, used to own Carson Square, which is now in the hands of Edward.
Dr. Kopecky turned 90 Tuesday, and Milly hosted a birthday party for him on Sunday. “It wasn’t anything real extravagant, just punch and cake,” she said. “Friends and family stopped by to visit.”
The couple enjoy reasonably good health, and Dr. Kopecky exercises and lifts weights every day. He used to play golf and enjoyed going on fishing trips to Canada, but he recently gave up those hobbies. His current interest is the St. Francis Hospice House project, which he wholeheartedly supports.