In this April 27, 2013 photo, children smile at Judy and Gary Kopff as they make their way to a fundraiser for the childhood cancer charity, St. Baldrick’s Foundation, in Bethesda, Md. The two, now retired, volunteer their time in hospitals and fundraisers to cheer up those who are ill or having a tough time. (AP Photo/The Washington Post, Linda Davidson)
WASHINGTON (AP) — Judy Kopff needs three hours to become a clown.
There is the Marine Corps-inspired uniform that she assembles — nothing like the serious pantsuits she wore during her years as a chief of staff in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
She needs time to frame her eyes with the long, exaggerated false lashes, place the cartoonish red wig atop her head and meticulously draw the red-and-black lipstick heart on her face.
Topping the ensemble is a twisted three-foot-tall balloon hat that takes her 45 minutes to create.
Then she pulls together an outfit for her husband, Gary Kopff. He was once a financial investment expert, advising some of the world’s largest banks and corporations. Now he performs magic tricks while wearing a red-white-and-blue Dr. Seuss hat.
This has become Judy Kopff’s life since she left her job at the Pentagon in 1996.
In the beginning, becoming a clown who cheered others was a way for Kopff, 66, to move beyond her own pain. She and her husband had spent years trying and failing to become parents. There were five years of in vitro procedures, several operations, a surrogacy fraud and listening to adoption horror stories. Together, the couple saw their Login to read more