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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Local businesswoman and philanthropist Mimi Barash Coppersmith was just 11 years old when she had her first significant life-changing experience. On July 25, 1944, a telegram informed her family that her brother Calvin — a B-17 navigator for the U.S. Army Air Corps and her parents’ only son — was killed in action over Italy.

“I remember it as if it were yesterday,” Coppersmith told an audience of more than 100 on Aug. 30 at Penn State University Park. Her new memoir, “Eat First, Cry Later: The Life Lessons of a First-Generation College Graduate, Penn State Alumna and Female CEO,” was the topic of discussion for a lunch-and-learn event co-sponsored by the Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence (CGNE) and Center for Nursing Research (CNR) in the Penn State College of Nursing.

Coppersmith’s book outlines a series of life lessons beginning with the fateful day in 1944 that shaped her decision to pursue a lifetime of helping others.

“I developed a sudden, uncontrollable urge to help my parents overcome their devastating grief,” she said. “I would make myself happy by making them happy.” In the process, she discovered that “it is more fun to do for others than for yourself.”

As a philanthropist, Coppersmith has made an immeasurable difference in the lives of others. Her longtime support of the CGNE reflects her commitment to the concerns and well-being of older adults.

“(Learning) to make a demonstrable difference in the lives of others … meant more to me than any other part of my résumé,” she concluded.

The first event in the 2018–19 CGNE/CNR Collaborative Seminar Series, the hour-long lunch-and-learn was “light but poignant, full of laughter and sadness, thought provoking, and applicable for all,” according to one attendee.

For the next event in the series, Hollyce Winters, attorney and executive director of the Centre County Bar Association, will discuss “Ethical and Legal Aspects Related to Persons with Cognitive Impairment” Sept. 27 at noon. For more information about this seminar or the CGNE, contact Donna Massari at 814-863-1048 or

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