A Vital Life
The following information was put together by contributions from members following the passing of Evelyn Copeland. Since we were unable to find a detailed obituary, this biographical data is published thanks to members who knew and remember her. Place your cursor over individual photos at the bottom to read captions.
Evelyn Copeland was born on January 18, 1917 and passed away on Friday, June 7, 2013 at the age of 96. She was a resident of Southbury, Connecticut. She retired from Fairfield Public Schools in June of 1974, some 39 years ago. She may very well be our longest living retiree. Evelyn served as the K-12 Consultant later Department Chairperson of English/Language Arts for the district. She was a bit ahead of the curve as she is the first woman in the district to have reported to work wearing slacks. While employed she was honored by her Alma Mater, Bates College in Maine (graduated 1939) with an Honorary Doctorate degree. She was also President of the New England Association of Teachers of English for a number of years, and she has published numerous articles.
From 2010 issue of her Alma Mater magazine, "Bates Magazine", a piece submitted 3 years ago (at the age of 93) surely demonstrates her mastery of the art of writing:
Evelyn Copeland, who moved back to Connecticut, shared a poetic account of the recent meteor shower viewed from their patio: “The kind of night Lorenzo describes in The Merchant of Venice: ‘The floor of heaven is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold. There’s not the smallest orb which thou behold’st but in its motion like a cherub sings.’ It was reassuring to find the starlit sky of my childhood on the farm still operating flawlessly. Add to all that the meteors whizzing by. One huge flaming disc barely missed the chimney. Did I actually hear the sizzling swoosh? Or was that a memory from the fireworks at the Talcott Mountain Music Festival last summer? I could imagine the Magi and the shepherds making their way to Bethlehem on such a night.”…
Carol Jennings has located the following obituary for Evelyn, written by a very close friend of hers. It appeared in the June 27, 2013 issue of the Minuteman Newspaper. Many thanks, Carol:
"Evelyn M. Copeland, 96, died on June 7, 2013. She had lived in Southbury, CT for many years where she continued to enjoy life and, of course, write. We knew her as both teacher and friend, and we loved her. Many of us attended her 90th birthday party and book signing many years ago. Ev dedicated this book to us, her children. Her extraordinary teaching and generous spirit were a gift to us, and we are grateful. When comes such another?"
The following information, submitted by Pat Shiner, is a true tribute to this very special lady. Photos as well, were submitted by Pat. Thanks, Pat:
Did you know that she (Evelyn) had written 5 books? But a Brown Bird Sang, 1993, life in her Florida "hideaway." Lonesome Glee. 1996, "an elixir of the heart, distilled from wonder and beauty" a"must for bird watchers". Very Nearly Me, 2004, Adventures of an Anglophile, Ev's year in Great Britain spent photographing and visiting places associated with the literature she taught and loved. Susie, 2006, the life of Ev's mother in rural Connecticut at the turn of the century. Dancing On My Desk, 2007, the story of her teaching career. Of course I have all of them! She was very special to me; I'd known her for 50 years. Luckily I visited her just a month before she left us and called the night of the massive stroke from which she never regained consciousness. One last thought from a former student who now lives in Seattle: "The world without Evelyn Copeland will not be the same. I'm grateful that we were blessed to know and treasure her and to be treasured by her." Pat Shiner, former French teacher (33 years) at Ludlowe and then Warde.
The following warm and wonderful account of his longtime friendship with “Ev” was submitted by Ken Mills. Thanks, Ken:
"Ev was my mentor when I first came to Fairfield in 1964. Her continual encouragement when I was very naive really kept me in teaching for 37 years at Ludlowe and later FHS. Since 1964 Ev and I shared a wonderful friendship; for me she was exciting to be around. I doubt that I would have stayed in teaching if it had not been for her influence. She was one of a handful of people in my life that were most important to me. Claire Martin and I would attend English conferences with her through-out New England. She would always make a wisecrack as we entered the main session late. She always had a great sense of humor. I remember that she held monthly dramatic readings at her home, performed by those attending. Ev and I really did a masterful job with our performance of The Lion in Winter. It is still talked about by those that were there! I also had the great privilege of traveling to Europe several times with Ev. Our most unique trip was a barge cruise through Holland.
When she finally took early retirement she had her RV period; she traveled around the USA with her friend Mac doing "birding". She eventually sold her house, and she and Mac moved to Florida and lived on what looked like a swamp. She got rid of the house on wheels. As time went on, Fla. wore thin and she moved to Heritage Village in Southbury, Ct. Since she had finally returned to Ct, we would go out to dinner in the Southbury area on a fairly regular basis. After Mac got sick and moved in with relatives in Texas, Ev sold her condo and moved up the hill to the Watermark which was right above Heritage Village. I visited her there several times a year. My last visit was Dec 2012. She will be missed."
Best, Ken Mills
Dr. Joseph Zapatowski sent this tribute:
Ev Copeland was a good friend and esteemed colleague and I
shall miss her.
She helped make our Fairfield Public schools the quality
schools they are today and were before and during my tenure in Fairfield.
I remember well the board of education meeting when Ev was
called upon to explain a new English course she introduced which she chose to
call "Witches, Warlocks and Weirdoes". She did a terrific job to allay the fears of
those who felt we were going to somehow invoke the occult and she did so as
only Ev could!
Evelyn Copeland was a published author with several books to
her credit. I have several of them in my
I have many fond
memories of Ev along with other staff aboard Recess I and Recess II as we
sailed the waters of Long Island Sound on the many excursions we embarked on to
refresh the soul and mind. She was a good friend to many and will be missed,
but, even more importantly, Ev will be remembered.
Zapytowski (former Superintendent,
Fairfield Public Schools)