Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2007 | 7:02 a.m.
In the autumn of his storied career as one of Las Vegas' leading plastic surgeons, Dr. Ed Kopf in the late 1980s would enlist a crew of local nurses and doctors to fly to poverty-striken villages throughout Mexico.
There they would perform free surgeries on children with birth defects, repairing cleft palates and giving youngsters a chance at normal lives they otherwise would not have had.
"It was his passion," daughter-in-law Randy Kopf said. "He never took vacations until after he retired because every time he would find an extra couple of thousand dollars he would use it for the Liga Flying Doctors of Mercy program. He would do anything to help children."
Edward H. Kopf, one of Las Vegas' top physicians and civic leaders who was a driving force behind starting the University of Nevada School of Medicine and a co-founder of the Clark County chapter of the Boys Club, died Friday in Las Vegas after a lengthy illness. He was 83.
In addition to treating children locally and internationally, Kopf worked on many celebrities, including Ann-Margret after she fell off a stage during a 1972 performance at Lake Tahoe and the late "Vega$" star Robert Urich.
Among Kopf's most significant work, which brought him national and international recognition: He was among the first U.S. plastic surgeons to call attention to the complications of liquid silicone injections in breast implants.
He was the leading voice to outlaw such injections in Nevada and helped physicians in California pass similar legislation .
Kopf long maintained an office on Rancho Drive and held several top surgical posts at local hospitals, including chief of plastic surgery at Sunrise Hospital, University Medical Center and Valley Hospital, and chief of surgery at Valley. For many years he was a consultant at the hospital at Nellis Air Force Base.
Kopf also was an amateur ventriloquist who used the technique of voice throwing to teach speech to the orally disabled.
He was the State Medical Association's 1971 Physician of the Year, the 1978 City of Hope Physician of the Year, the 1981 Opportunity Village award winner for Outstanding Support of Retarded Citizens and the 1981 Nevada Conference of Police and Sheriffs Humanitarian of the Year.
Born June 28, 1924, in Buffalo, N.Y., Kopf served in the Navy as an aviation electronics technician during World War II.
After graduating from the University of Buffalo School of Medicine, he was trained in general and plastic surgery and among other special ties was board certified in reconstructive surgery and neurological orthopedic surgery.
Kopf came to Las Vegas in 1960 and three years later helped found the Clark County Boys Club and was active in several local, state and national medical associations.
As a civic leader, he co-founded the Help Them Walk Again Foundation and the Southern Nevada Drug Abuse Council. He also was active in the Boy Scouts, cancer drives and civil defense planning.
In the early 1980s he served on the Governor's Committee of Employment for the Handicapped and the board of the Southern Nevada Association of the Handicapped. He co-founded the Nevada Eye Bank.
Kopf retired in 1992 after quadruple heart bypass surgery.
He is survived by his wife of 57 years , Rose Kopf; four children, Charles Kopf, Karolanne Hern, Eddie Kopf and Joseph Kopf; a brother, Dr. Al Kopf; nine grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.
Services will be at 2 p.m. Thursday at Christ the King Catholic Church. An interment ceremony will be at 2 p.m. Nov. 17 at Palm Mortuary-Eastern.