Kopecky, Josef H. (1886–1977)

By: Josephine Hejl Legg

Type: Biography

Published: February 1, 1995

Josef (Joseph) H. Kopecky, physician and teacher, was born on August 12, 1886, in Rutersville, Texas, the third of twelve children of Moravian immigrants Josef H. and Josephine (Malinak) Kopecky. In 1902, when he was sixteen years old, he taught second grade at Bordovice, a Czech community near Fayetteville. He attended Sam Houston Normal Institute (now Sam Houston State University) at Huntsville and graduated in 1909 as class valedictorian. During 1910–11 he taught at the Texas School for the Blind in Austin. He entered the medical department of the University of Texas, Galveston, in the fall of 1911 and graduated third in his class in 1915. He joined the United States Army Medical Corps in 1917 and was commissioned in 1918 before volunteering for service with the army's Siberian Expeditionary Forces in Russia, where he was in charge of an army hospital. In 1920 he resumed private practice in El Campo. He then accepted a teaching position on the staff of the University of Texas Medical Branch in 1921 and was associate professor from 1923 to 1924 and full professor of Clinical Medicine and Pathology in 1925–26. In 1929 he was appointed by the president of the University of Texas to be the first exchange professor to the National University of Mexico.

Kopecky's pride in his Czech heritage was reflected in his many contributions promoting the Czech culture in Texas. He was chairman of the Czech exhibit at the Texas Centennial at Dallas in 1936 and first president of the Czech Ex-Students' Association of Texas. He was an active member of many Czech and medical organizations in both the United States and Mexico. In 1966 he received the Ashbel Smith Distinguished Alumni Award for his outstanding contributions to internal medicine and education. He was a Methodist. He married Golda Elizabeth Willis in 1918, and they had a son and a daughter. Kopecky died in San Antonio on February 23, 1977.

Estelle Hudson and Henry R. Maresh, Czech Pioneers of the Southwest (Dallas: South-West, 1934). North San Antonio Times, March 3, 1977.
  • Education
  • Educators
  • Medical
  • Health and Medicine
  • Founders and Pioneers
  • School Founders

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Josephine Hejl Legg, “Kopecky, Josef H.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 06, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/kopecky-josef-h.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 1, 1995

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