Aviation

Former Bell CEO loved his job, but his family came first, family says

Bell Helicopter celebrates 65 years in Fort Worth

Bell Helicopter shows off its expanded pilot and mechanics training center at Fort Worth headquarters campus. (Video by Max Faulkner and Andrea Ahles)
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Bell Helicopter shows off its expanded pilot and mechanics training center at Fort Worth headquarters campus. (Video by Max Faulkner and Andrea Ahles)

Lloyd Shoppa, a former president and CEO of Bell Helicopter, died Monday. He was 86.

Mr. Shoppa died after a brief illness and was surrounded by his family, his wife, Betty, said.

Betty Shoppa described how she and her husband traveled to 64 countries where Bell Helicopter sold aircraft. Some of her favorite memories were of going to air shows in London and France, and visiting Manila and living in Canada for two years.

Although Mr. Shoppa worked hard, his family always came first, she said.

“He was an amazing guy,” she said.

Mr. Shoppa began his career as a systems engineer at Bell Helicopter in 1964 and worked his way up to president of Bell Helicopter Textron Canada and eventually president and CEO of Bell Helicopter Textron. He retired in 1997.

Mr. Shoppa was born Aug. 31, 1932, on a farm in Wharton, Texas.

He loved hunting and fishing, skills he learned in the Boy Scouts. He attended Wharton County Junior College on a football scholarship and then transferred to the University of Texas.

Mr. Shoppa married Betty Jean Ziobe, on Jan. 25, 1955.

After college he got a job in process improvement at Texaco.

Mr. Shoppa served on the Hurst-Euless-Bedford school board for six years and was president for three of those years. He also served as president of the Hurst-Euless-Bedford Chamber of Commerce.

In 1997, Mr. Shoppa was inducted into the National Management Association Hall of Fame in recognition of significant personal and professional contributions.

After he retired, Mr. Shoppa supported his children in their business endeavors, becoming chairman and director of Shoppa’s Farm Supply, a John Deere dealership with eight locations on the upper Gulf Coast, owned by his son Chris, and chairman of Shoppa’s Material Handling, a Toyota Industrial Equipment distributor with nine locations, owned by his son Jim.

Betty Shoppa recalled how she and her husband traveled between their homes in Wharton and Colleyville.

Jim Shoppa said he will always remember his father for attending sporting events and coaching track and youth football.

“Dad gave us a work ethic, but even more important, he gave us family values, something you don’t see much of anymore,” Jim Shoppa said.

Visitation is from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Bluebonnet Hills Funeral Home, 5725 Colleyville Blvd., with church service scheduled for Friday at 10 a.m. at Cross City Church First Euless, 1000 Airport Freeway. Funeral services will take place at 3 p.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church, 507 N. Fulton St., Wharton.

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With my guide dog Barbara, I keep tabs on growth, economic development and other issues in Northeast Tarrant cities and other communities near Fort Worth. I’ve been a reporter at the Star-Telegram for 34 years.

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