After a period of declining health, Ronald F. Szopa, DMD, FAGD, of Manchester passed away peacefully on November 16, 2021 surrounded by his loved ones. He was the son of Stanley E. and Blanche (Kuliga) Szopa.
Dr. Szopa started his education at Webster Elementary School and continued to Central High School and the University of NH. After earning a B.S. at UNH, he graduated from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and enlisted in the Army during the height of the Vietnam War. Dr. Szopa began his dental career at the U.S. Institute of Dental Research, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington D.C. He served in the army for two years at Andrew Rader Army Clinic, Fort Meyer, VA where he practiced general dentistry as well as serving as Post Preventive Dentistry Officer lecturing to troops and setting up a preventative dentistry program for the post. Upon completion of his duty, he returned to Manchester to set up his General Dentistry practice on Elm St. Within a few years he purchased a charming turn of the century historic Victorian home in the north end, which he restored to its former beauty. He practiced there for over fifty years until his retirement. The two floors above the office were private living quarters. When he met and married Jacqueline Bernard, it is where they began their life together and welcomed daughter Alia, their only child.
He was beloved and respected by his patients, many mutigenerational, and was always available to treat them in emergencies no matter what time or day. He is even credited with saving the lives of several patients by his early detection of their oral cancers. Dedicated to his patients and profession, he continued to attend courses in dentistry throughout his time practicing to stay on the forefront of his profession.
Since NH Magazine's inception highlighting the state's "Top Dentists," Dr. Szopa, highly respected by his peers, was always among them. He held the office of the president of the Manchester Dental Society and the NH Society for Preventive Dentistry. He was a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry. In addition, he was a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, the American Dental Association, the Manchester and NH Dental Associations, and the Delta Sigma Delta, International Dental Fraternity. Dr. Szopa was on staff at Catholic Medical Center.
Proud of his one hundred percent Polish Heritage and devoted to his faith, Dr. Szopa was involved in Holy Trinity Polish National Catholic Church, where he was a lifelong member. He was on the church's Building Committee, controller chairman, head usher and annually worked the Christmas Fair.
Dr. Szopa had an "aesthetic eye" and appreciated beauty in nature and ancient and historic architecture. His green thumb was well known in his office and the landscaping both there and at his home. He and his wife could be seen many weekends in the spring and summer working at their meticulously groomed properties.
Always up for an adventure, Dr. Szopa's travels took him throughout the United States, Canada, Caribbean Islands, Europe and Mexico. He loved traveling with his wife, daughter and her family. Those were the times that meant the most to him. His home reflects these travels in the art and artifacts he and his wife collected during their trips. He particularly loved the ancient architecture of Greece and Italy. A highlight of his travels was Communist Poland at which time he and his wife, along with his parents, were able to meet and connect with both his maternal and paternal relatives.
His family meant everything to him and was his first priority. He was a stellar and loving husband, father, grandfather and father-in-law. His other priorities were his faith, country and profession. His life was well lived as an ethical and moral man. It was a life of success through hard work and determination instilled in him at an early age. He lived the American Dream.
He is survived by his wife of forty-six and a half years Jacqueline (Bernard), daughter Alia Szopa Ritchey, her husband Scott Ritchey, grandsons Hunter and Donovan Ritchey and his precious cat Seraphina. He was loved and adored by all of them. He will be missed greatly- particularly for his gentle ways, patience and kindness. He was predeceased by only sibling Walda Szopa.
A private Celebration of Life Mass for Dr. Szopa was held at Holy Trinity Cathedral officiated by Bishop Paul Sobiechowski followed by a military burial at the church's cemetery. Lambert Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements. The family sincerely thanks the doctors and nurses at Elliot Hospital for the loving care he received.
Donations in memory of Dr. Ronald Szopa may be made to Holy Trinity Cathedral, 166 Pearl St., Manchester, NH 03104.