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From big hugs to pets at the office, Scoppechio succeeded her way

Updated: Jun. 29, 2017 at 8:16 PM EDT
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Jerry Preyss (Source: Dale Mader, WAVE 3 News)
Jerry Preyss (Source: Dale Mader, WAVE 3 News)
Sarah Davasher-Wisdom (Source: Dale Mader, WAVE 3 News)
Sarah Davasher-Wisdom (Source: Dale Mader, WAVE 3 News)
Dr. Donald Miller (Source: Dale Mader, WAVE 3 News)
Dr. Donald Miller (Source: Dale Mader, WAVE 3 News)
Slplat Out Cancer was a fundraiser that Debbie Scoppechio and her team came up with. (Source:...
Slplat Out Cancer was a fundraiser that Debbie Scoppechio and her team came up with. (Source: Dale Mader, WAVE 3 News)

. - LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Debbie Scoppechio is being remembered as one the best in the Louisville business world and a caring leader in the community.

Scoppechio, 68, passed away peacefully in her home June 29 after losing her battle with cancer. The longtime ad executive who started her business with only a handful of employees inspired many in the business community by building a wildly successful company. In 2015, it changed its name to hers: Scoppechio.

If ever there was an 'It Girl' in the Louisville Ad game, it was Debbie Scoppechio.

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"The only important word in my vocabulary is living, and I'm living life to the fullest," Scoppechio said 9in her interview during her cancer battle.

The successful executive with a big personality became well known after her first baby got big. She took her Creative Alliance and its three employees to 170, building a huge client list and one of the region's largest advertising/marketing agencies.

"She just went about the task of building a company by providing a great product with great service," said Jerry Preyss, CEO of Scoppechio.

Preyss said colleagues and clients appreciated her focus on people not money. Her motto was Rise Above. Scoppechio meant everyone has struggles and can rise above what's happening in their lives.

Scoppechio ran her business to help employees rise above what was bothering them. She did it her way from having pets at
the office to giving out big hugs.

"She kicked off her shoes, and danced in her slippers or her bare feet when she felt like it, because that's what life's about," Preyss said smiling as he remembered her.

Scoppechio served on many boards over the years, from Greater Louisville Inc to The Kentucky Center. City leaders say her joy was inspirational.

"When you talk about great leaders that have come out of this city, especially great female leaders, I always said to her, she was the epitome of girl power," Mayor Greg Fischer said.

Sarah Davasher-Wisdom, the Chief Operating Officer of GLI,  added, "It was amazing how much energy she had and how she shared that and spread that where ever she went."

Even after breast cancer spread to her spine, Scoppechio didn't slow down.

"She always had that light and that spirit and anyone who knew Debbie knows exactly what I'm talking about," said Kim Baker, President and CEO of The Kentucky Center, of Scoppechio's continued dedication.

Scoppechio just kept creating.

"Debbie wanted to do something to raise money for the cancer center," said Dr. Donald Miller, the former director of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, "and she and her team came to us with several ideas, just amazing ideas."

The one that stuck was Splat Out Cancer. Scoppechio knew she could continue to raise money for cancer research, even after her battle was over.

"That's the kind of person Debbie was," Miller said, "She thought so much about other people."

Scoppechio also served on the board of The Louisville Metro Police Foundation. In a statement, LMPF said, "All of us on the police foundation are saddened by Debbie's death. The last few years she was physically unable to attend meetings, however she stayed engaged by email and voiced her opinion and insight on various issues. We are all proud that she was part of our board to help make Louisville a safer place."

"The University of Louisville joins the community in mourning Debbie Scoppechio," said Dr. Greg Postal, the interim president. "Debbie was a savvy businesswoman and generous public servant who helped further the university's mission over the years through her membership on the Board of Trustees, Board of Overseers and University of Louisville Foundation. Our sympathies go out to her family, friends and co-workers. She will be greatly missed."

Friends say Scoppechio's husband, Rick Duffy, was her rock. She won countless community and business awards over the years and even danced on the Ed Sullivan Show as a child.

Funeral arrangements for Scoppechio have been finalized. Visitation will be held Sunday, July 2, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Pearson Funeral Home on Breckenridge Lane.

A funeral Mass will be held Monday, July 3, at 11 a.m. at St. Leonard Catholic Church, 440 Zorn Avenue. Burial will follow at Cave Hill Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers the family is asking for donations to be made in Scoppechio's honor to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

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