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Family | Gymnastics | Law | Beliefs

Perhaps the best way to convey Mari-Rae’s strongest beliefs is to allow her friends to state their observations:

“Mari-Rae Sopper did not live in vain and she did not die in vain.”

“Passionate, bright, enthusiastic, obvious perfectionist, generous, determined, disciplined, courageous, tolerant, unique, beautiful, talented, trusting, nonjudgmental and full of ideas.”

“Mari-Rae was passionate about many things: family, politics, current events, women’s rights, friends, and of course, gymnastics. She cherished her relationships.”

“Mari-Rae’s greatest qualities were undying conviction and belief in doing the right thing even though it may not be popular or mainstream.”

The 2000 Presidential Election

Mari-Rae actively sought votes for Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election by going door to door in Pennsylvania, a key swing state. Al and Tipper Gore sent their condolences and praised Mari-Rae’s spirit (click the letter at left to see a larger version).

People for the American Way

Mari-Rae’s beliefs led her to volunteer efforts that focused on empowering the underprivileged. She found a cause with People for the American Way, whose president, Ralph G. Neas, praised her in a recent letter, “She was obviously a woman of many talents and passionate commitment. We feel very lucky to have known her and to have been the beneficiary of her dedication to social justice. She will be missed by many.”

The following statement appeared on the People for the American Way web site:

IN MEMORY: Mari-Rae Sopper

People For the American Way Foundation mourns the death of Mari-Rae Sopper, a former PFAWF volunteer, who was among those killed September 11 on American Airlines flight 77. The plane crashed into the Pentagon. She was 35 years old.

Last year, Sopper lived in Washington, D.C., where she served as a frequent volunteer for PFAWF efforts, including our “Arrive With Five” campaign to encourage voter participation in the African American community. Staff and interns in the PFAWF’s Field Department praised Sopper’s dedication and commitment to social justice.

Chris Block, who was then a volunteer coordinator for PFAWF, remembered the contributions that Sopper made. “Mari-Rae participated in many of our phone banks, and she did an excellent job,” Block recalled. “It was easy to tell that she cared passionately about progressive values. I remember her being very energetic and bringing this energy to everything she did in support of People For’s efforts.”

Sopper was taking the September 11 flight to begin serving as the women’s gymnastics coach at the University of California at Santa Barbara. “Mari-Rae was a very dynamic and enthusiastic person, and it is tragic that her life was cut short,” said UCSB Athletic Director Gary Cunningham. PFAWF extends its deepest sympathies to Sopper’s family.

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