Mom and Gigi, Helen Marie Copeland, passed away peacefully on January 22, 2022, at the age of 95. Helen was born the 3rd of 4 children in a very small town in Oklahoma on November 10, 1926.
In search of employment and better opportunities, her family relocated to Los Angeles, California in the 1940’s where she met her husband, Romie Copeland. Helen and Romie were married on July 31, 1949. They moved to a small suburb of Los Angeles, West Covina, in 1955 with the first three of their children. By 1969, they had a total of 5 children. Helen took odd jobs here and there, such as working in department stores, but for the most part devoted her life as a homemaker raising her family, volunteering at church, school, and little league teams. She remained in that home with Romie until his passing in 1998, and then stayed on there just a few more years.
In 2003, she sold her beloved home of 48 years in West Covina and moved to Charlotte, North Carolina to be near two of her children and their families. She bought a small place that backed up to a preserve and enjoyed the daily visits from deer and squirrels alike – although the deer were a little too fond of her flowers. And while she expressed some frustration over the headless flowers, she didn’t try very hard to deter the deer claiming that they had been there first.
Due to arthritis and some strokes, Helen had utilized a wheelchair for mobility since the mid 1980’s. She had the ability to stand and mostly used the wheelchair to ease her commute from room to room and beyond. She was fiercely independent and stubborn in equal measure and continued to find ways to get things done despite the limitations her physical conditions caused her.
She was a phenomenal cook/baker, seamstress, gardener - you name it - which included making wedding dresses and floral arrangements. She made it very clear that homemade brownies with frosting made everything better. Her love for gardening meant that everyone brought their dying plants to her to fix, which she almost always did. She was very social and was always willing to sit, listen and have a conversation with anyone at any time, usually while holding their hand. She also had a delightful sense of humor which she maintained until the end.
After suffering another stroke in August of 2021, she was moved to a local memory care unit where she could receive 24/7 care. She turned 95 in November and began a very rapid decline from that point. She went peacefully to our Lord in the early morning of January 22.
She was devoutly Catholic and freely shared her faith with all. She always had a rosary on her person and prayed it daily. In the care unit, it was always around her neck. She loved the Lord and relied on her faith in good times and bad.
She was an absolute force to be reckoned with and epitomized the definition of “persistence” and “tenacity.” She was incredibly proud of her children and grandchildren and great grandchildren and often marveled at the legacy she had created. As dementia begin to steal her words and her memories, she would still proudly indicate the number and names of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to anyone who asked. She had pictures of all of them tucked onto every surface in her room and they provided her great comfort. She will be greatly missed.
Helen is survived by her children: Mark Copeland (Lisa); Kathleen Greffly (Jim); Richard Copeland; Brian Copeland; and, Melissa Cressman (Kelly); as well as grandchildren: Michelle (David), Kim (Arnold), Jennifer (Chris), Chris, Matt (Keeva), Eric (Jennifer), Amanda, Brian, James, Rochelle, Aaron and Emma; and, 18 great grandchildren.
A Funeral Mass will be held at 1:00 p.m., Thursday, February 3, 2022, at St. Matthew Catholic Church in Charlotte, NC, followed by a gathering at the Cressman Home. A graveside service will be held at 12:00 p.m. noon on Saturday, February 19, 2022, at Resurrection Cemetery in Rosemead, California. A Celebration of Life will occur immediately following burial – details are still pending.
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