Today’s news of the impending retirement of Thomas “Coop” Cupillari from the Keystone College observatory that bears his name was bittersweet for me. No one deserves to walk away on his own terms more than Coop, but Keystone won’t be the same without him.

I said the same when he retired as a professor in 2007, but I was happy he was staying on to run the observatory, a true area gem that would not exist without Coop’s leadership. As a proud graduate of Keystone and former student of Coop, I wish him health and happiness as he enters the next phase of his well-lived life.

That said, it feels funny to describe myself a “former student” of a man who taught me so much more than the order of the planets and the frequencies of comets and meteor showers. Coop is Old School. He not only tells it like it is, but how it should be, often prefaced by the phrase, “The hell of it is…” A consummate gentleman and scholar, Coop made a lasting difference in countless lives, mine included.

Congratulations, Coop. You showed us the stars and made us believe we could join them.