A McHenry County judge who died after being found unresponsive in his chambers Monday is being remembered for his love of animals and his family ahead of a funeral service.
The Woodstock Fire/Rescue District responded around 8:22 a.m. Monday to the McHenry County Government Center, 2200 Seminary Avenue in Woodstock.
Woodstock Fire/Rescue District Communication Specialist Alex Vucha said paramedics responded to a call of a person in cardiac arrest.
An adult male was found unconscious and not breathing. He was rushed by ambulance to Northwestern Medicine Hospital in Woodstock, Vucha said.
McHenry County Coroner Michael Rein said the man, identified as McHenry County Judge Michael Coppedge, died at the hospital.
The coroner’s office was notified around 10 a.m. of Coppedge’s death, Rein said, adding that the judge was pronounced dead minutes earlier at 9:56 a.m.
McHenry County Chief Judge Michael Chmiel said in a statement that Coppedge, 61, of Crystal Lake, was found unresponsive in his chambers.
“We are struck with shock and sadness at the Judicial Center today with the passing of Judge Coppedge,” Chmiel said.
“He was one of the most thoughtful and professional persons many of us have ever met and was relied upon throughout the courthouse by all of us. He is and will be missed. Our good thoughts and prayers extend to him and his family,” Chmiel added.
Coppedge graduated cum laude from the College of St. Francis in Joliet in 1984. He attended law school at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb where he also graduated cum laude.
He began his legal career as a law clerk at the law firm Cowlin, Ungvarsky, Kukla and Curran.
After passing the bar exam in 1987, Coppedge was hired as an associate and then became a partner at the firm.
Coppedge had an extensive background in civil litigation, real estate law and local government law.
McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally called Coppedge “one of the most prodigious legal minds in McHenry County” and a “wonderful judge.”
“It is hard to overstate what a loss this is for the 22nd Judicial Circuit. Our deepest condolences go out to Judge Coppedge’s family, the McHenry County Judiciary, and Judge Coppedge’s many friends. May he rest in peace,” Kenneally said.
Coppedge was sworn in as an associate judge in the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court in November 2015.
He presided over family, traffic, misdemeanor, and most recently, felony cases.
McHenry County Trial Court Administrator Dan Wallis said the judge’s judicial acumen was widely respected.
“He was one of the most brilliant legal minds that I ever had the pleasure to work with. While he did not always say much, when he spoke, you listened, because he was probably right. My condolences, thoughts and prayers are with the entire Coppedge family,” Wallis said.
An obituary for Coppedge said he “dedicated his career to the judiciary” and cherished his time and the relationships made through a “shared pursuit of justice.”
Coppedge was known to his grandchildren as “Grandpa Donut” and surprised them with donuts on Sunday mornings, his obituary said.
The obituary said Coppedge showcased a deep love for his family and loved animals, especially dogs and cats.
Coppedge leaves behind his wife and son and several other family members.
A visitation is scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday until a service at 7:30 p.m. at Davenport Family Funeral Home in Crystal Lake.
The coroner said his office is working collaboratively with Northwestern Medicine Hospital in Woodstock to investigate the death.