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Kopperl, Isabella Dyer (1835–1902)

Elizabeth Hayes Turner Biography Entry

Isabella Dyer Kopperl, philanthropist, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1835, the daughter of Joseph and Josephine Dyer. She moved to Galveston in 1846 to live with her aunt, Rosanna Dyer Osterman, the wife of Joseph Osterman. Isabella married Moritz O. Kopperl on June 10, 1866, in Cincinnati, Ohio; they had two sons. She served on the Board of Lady Managers of the Island City Protestant and Israelitish Orphan's Home (later the Galveston Children's Home) from 1885 until her death and presided over the board as first director from 1885 to 1887. Her husband and she bequeathed $1,000 each to establish the orphanage infirmary, which was finished in 1885 and operated until 1894. She bequeathed $2,000 to the orphanage's kindergarten. Her family contributed significant sums as well: Isadore Dyer bequeathed $5,000, half of his estate, to the home in 1888, and Rosanna Dyer Osterman in her will established the Osterman Widows and Orphans Home Fund of Galveston, the proceeds of which were distributed to the city's benevolent institutions, including the Galveston Children's Home.

In 1889 Isabella Kopperl began serving on the board of directors for the Woman's Home (later the Letitia Rosenberg Woman's Home) and helped to draw up plans for the home built in 1896 on Bath Avenue. She was a member of Temple B'nai Israel's Hebrew Ladies Benevolent Society and the Ladies' Musical Club of Galveston. She served on the board of directors for the Johanna Runge Free Kindergarten, the House Committee for the Sealy Hospital Nurses' School, and in 1901 on the first executive committee of the Women's Health Protective Association. In 1921 her home at Broadway Boulevard and Twenty-fourth Avenue, formerly the Osterman home, became the dormitory for the YWCA.

Mrs. Kopperl died on May 19, 1902, in Redlands, California, in an automobile accident. As a tribute to her enthusiastic work in replanting the island after the Galveston hurricane of 1900 and the grade raising, the Women's Health Protective Association established Isabella Kopperl Memorial Park on Rosenberg Avenue, across from Union Station. In 1926 the park was moved to the Broadway Avenue esplanade at Seawall Boulevard. Isabella Kopperl is said to have brought the first palms to the island.

Galveston Daily News, January 23, 1896, May 20, 1902. S. C. Griffin, History of Galveston, Texas (Galveston: Cawston, 1931). Elizabeth Hayes Turner, "Women, Religion, and Reform in Galveston, 1880–1920," in Urban Texas: Politics and Development, ed. Char Miller and Heywood T. Sanders (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1990). Vertical File, Rosenberg Library, Galveston.


  • Peoples
  • Jews
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Civic Leaders
  • Patrons, Collectors, and Philanthropists
  • Women

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

Elizabeth Hayes Turner, “Kopperl, Isabella Dyer,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed March 06, 2021,

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