Kopacs at NY Marathon finish line
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Lynne in NYC

Kopac's Corner

Memories of Bob Rother

by Bob Kopac

To Bob Rother, Our Best Friend and Faithful Running Companion
12/25/1932 - 07/27/2004

Road Trip! --The Boston Marathon Sideshow Awards and Disqualifications

For many years Bob Rother, Lynne, and I would travel to Natick, MA, to our traditional spot 10.658 miles into the Boston Marathon. There we would search for "interesting" runners--"interesting", as in "That's an 'interesting' looking baby." Bob Rother and Lynne would scan the crowd and yell out when they spotted candidates, and I would photograph the prey. On the ride back to Poughkeepsie we would discuss what awards or disqualifications to give the candidates. For example, in 1999 we spotted a runner from South Africa running in a rhinoceros outfit, complete with scales, head, and a large horn. Of course we gave him the Horniest-Runner Award.

Sometimes Lynne objected to some of our nominations as being sophomoric. However, with 3 people voting, Lynne often was in the minority, as Bob Rother shared my love of bad puns.

In 2001 I started giving out Sideshow movie awards. During the year I would research movie titles and create potential awards; Bob Rother would critique. I then arranged them into the following categories: "Bob Rother's First Choices" and "Not in Bob Rother's First Choices". At the race, we tried to find runners who matched the awards, and we also created new awards based on what runners we saw that year. For example, Bob Rother suggested the Some-Like-it-Hot Award for the male runner wearing a flapper dress and a turquoise-blue wig.

One year, Uta Pippig magically appeared at our intersection to cheer on the runners. She HAD to get a Sideshow Award! We debated on the way back. The only movies we could think of were X-rated movies or The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom. We decided those movies somehow were not quite appropriate. Very, very late that night I had an inspiration and called Bob. He voted in the affirmative, so that is how Uta received the "Trading Places" award.

Rat Race

Bob kept bugging Lynne and me to watch a movie he really enjoyed - Rat Race. We said we weren't interested, as we hate stupid movies that pander to the lowest common denominator. Bob was persistent. He showed up one Friday evening with the DVD and said we had to watch it that night. So Lynne and I grudgingly watched the movie. We loved it! It was a guilty pleasure. Jon Lovitz's character was hilarious, and we now know you should have bought the squirrel!


When Bob Rother traveled to NYC with Lynne and me for Lynne's chemo treatments, we ate at various restaurants on the Upper East Side. Bob's tastes were all-American. Whenever we suggested Burmese or Afghan restaurants, he countered with the Silver Spoon Diner where he could have a hamburger. Eventually we arrived at a compromise-the restaurant Serendipity II, where Bob ate sausage omelets-at least it wasn't a hamburger!


Bob had such a very deep, low voice that sometimes it was difficult to hear what he said. Bob also had trouble hearing out of one of his ears. Thus, when Bob Rother and Lynne ran, the word used most often by both of them was "What?" I never had that problem. Whenever I couldn't understand Bob, I just nodded in the affirmative and said, "Yes." Perhaps that is how we ended up eating at the Silver Spoon Restaurant so often!


Bob Rother traveled with us to the Old Chatham 5K, where I had the opportunity to interview Bill Rodgers. After the race, Bob Rother met Bill Rodgers, and Bob finally was able to ask Bill the question Bob always wanted to ask: "Why did you steal my initials?"