Charles G. Kopp, 86, of Rittenhouse Square, a Philadelphia lawyer and powerful political adviser and fund-raiser for the Republican Party, died in his sleep Wednesday, Feb. 6, at home.
Mr. Kopp started his career at the Philadelphia law firm of Wolf Block in 1960 and stayed until 2009, when he joined the firm of Cozen O’Connor. He chaired Wolf Block’s tax department and was chairman and cochairman of the firm. At Cozen, he was senior counsel and a member of the tax department.
Mr. Kopp excelled in cases involving federal, state, and local taxation. He also developed an expertise in corporate acquisitions and mergers.
“Charlie was a wonderful adviser, mentor, and friend to so many,” said Cozen colleague Jim Schultz. “He was a legal and political giant in this city who was also thoughtful, brilliant, and uniquely kindhearted. I am not alone in saying Charlie was always there to share his sage advice whenever asked.”
Mark Alderman, another Cozen colleague, described Mr. Kopp as unique.
“There are brilliant lawyers and there are brilliant strategists,” Alderman said, “but rarely is such brilliance found in a single person. Add to that a gift for teaching and a love of humor, and you have Charlie Kopp.”
Much of Mr. Kopp’s work and social life centered on his skills as a political adviser and fund-raiser for the GOP. Over the years, he advised Bob Dole, Mitt Romney, John McCain, and Arlen Specter. “That was his hobby and to some degree his work, and he loved it,” said Matthew Kamens, another Cozen colleague.
Born an only child to Henry and Grace Kopp in Hartford, Conn., he graduated from Suffield Academy in Suffield, Conn. He earned degrees from Amherst College and the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
In addition to his law practice, Mr. Kopp was a trustee of Thomas Jefferson University and on the board of directors of Provident National Bank and the board of its successor, PNC Philadelphia.
In 1980, he was appointed to Gov. Dick Thornburgh’s Special State Tax Commission and two years later was appointed cochair of the Philadelphia Tax Committee by Mayor William J. Green III.
In 1986, Mr. Kopp was appointed a commissioner to the Delaware River Port Authority by Thornburgh. U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter appointed Mr. Kopp to the Federal Judicial Nominating Committee for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. He served from 1999 to 2009.
In 2011, he was appointed by Gov. Tom Corbett to serve as chairman of the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority. In that role, he pushed for the dredging of the Port of Philadelphia.
“Charlie was one of the kindest and sincerest and warm individuals that I had the honor to call my friend," Corbett said. "He always gave wise counsel on many of the issues facing me as governor, especially with respect to Philadelphia. He served me as a senior counsel on issues in Southeast Pennsylvania. That counsel was invaluable. Philadelphia and Pennsylvania have lost a great, quiet leader today.”
Jaime Lake, Mr. Kopp’s assistant at Cozen for 26 years, said her boss stood out because of his kindness and generosity.
“I’ve watched as a steady stream of people sought his advice or assistance,” she said. “He always gave it. As I’ve called people to let them know of his passing, most keep me on the phone to recount the many times he helped them over the years."
Democrats also were fond of Mr. Kopp.
When Ed Rendell was mayor, he would call Mr. Kopp when there were bills before the state legislature that affected Philadelphia. Mr. Kopp always championed the city and made a case for its interests to the Republican lawmakers in Harrisburg, Rendell said.
Charles Breslin, a Democratic lobbyist and aide to Rendell, considered Mr. Kopp a mentor.
“He had the best advice and it was usually, ‘Stay out of it if you can, keep your head low, and do as little damage as possible,’ ” Breslin said. “He was one of a few gentlemen in a tough business.”
Bob Asher, a Republican National Committee member and a major GOP fund-raiser, said Mr. Kopp’s skill in raising money lay in knowing whom to ask, what to ask for, and not being afraid of rejection.
Mr. Kopp raised millions of dollars for the party, Asher said. “Far and away, it was because of who Charlie was,” Asher said. “Charlie was the epitome of a gentleman and someone who was considerate of others.”
Outside of politics, Mr. Kopp enjoyed spending time in Ventnor, N.J., and taking long, solitary walks.
Mr. Kopp was married in 1962 to Ann Weiss. They divorced in 1964.