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Joseph Kopcho Langdell

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Joseph Kopcho Langdell Obituary

Joseph Kopcho Langdell will be honored at 10 a.m., Saturday, March 21, 2015, at Ullrey Memorial Chapel, 817 Almond Street, Yuba City, CA with a Masonic memorial service followed by Full Military Honors.

The well-known Yuba-Sutter resident passed on to the next life Wednesday, February 4, 2015. He was 100 years old.

A fan of classical music, Beethoven's Symphony No. 3, "The Eroica", played him off this life's stage.

Langdell was, insofar as we know, the last surviving officer from the battleship USS Arizona. In accordance with his wishes, he will rejoin his shipmates-some 900 sailors and officers who remain aboard-casualties of the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

On Dec. 7, 2015, family and friends will gather aboard the USS Arizona Memorial for a sunset memorial service conducted by the National Park Service and U. S. Navy, where divers will deposit Langdell's ashes inside the ship.

Langdell had been actively propelling his wheelchair around The Fountains skilled nursing facility in Yuba City, California, until a week before his death. The Fountains had been his home for a few weeks short of two years.

In his passing, he rejoins Libby-Elizabeth Hamilton McGauhy Langdell, his wife of 70 years-who often observed that, "Joe gets into the manure pile and comes out smelling like a rose."

Libby passed on October 27, 2012, following a spell of declining health.

Born October 12, 1914, at home to Luther Mark and Annie Kopcho Langdell, Joe Langdell was the first of their three children, sons born and raised in the small village of Wilton Center, New Hampshire. He was preceded in passing by his parents, his younger brother Charles Ulysses Langdell and youngest brother Theodore Roosevelt Langdell.

Joe and Libby were the parents of John Mark Langdell (wife Jeanne) of Spearfish, South Dakota and Theodore Charles Langdell (Anita) of Marysville, California.

They were grandparents of John's son, Andrew Langdell (Suzy) of Portland, Oregon and daughter Anne of Spearfish, SD, uncle and aunt to Charles Langdell's sons, (the late) Jonathan Langdell, William Mark Langdell, T. R. Langdell's daughter, Janet, and to Libby's niece Marion McGauhy Civale of Roxbury, Connecticut.

They both enjoyed the company of numerous "Kopcho Cousins" on Joe's mother's side from the Latrobe-Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania region.

During his 100 years, Joe Langdell had seen many things and changes ranging from wood stoves and outhouses, milking cows by hand in his father's barn, guiding horse-drawn buggies and driving early motor cars, building crystal radio sets and cranking party-line, operator-connected telephones, to using cell phones, e-mailing and surfing the Internet.

He could play 78s and LPs, CDs, DVDs and VHS tapes, but resetting those players' clocks required assistance.

The outdoor activities he enjoyed as a young man-camping, fishing, exploring, Boy Scouts-were passed on to his two sons, and to others in the Boy Scout troops he led or served in Walnut Creek, California and later in Linda.

A devote of the "Garden Hackle" (the red worm) he was happiest when standing in a cold Sierra stream after having just hooked and landed his dinner.

He continued his outdoor activities by taking his travel trailer into the nearby Sierra Nevada Mountains until 2007 and walking in his neighborhoods until 2011. He continued actively walking until his Feb. 2013 hip injury.

Langdell played trombone in the Wilton High School and Fire House bands, and promoted dances in the Wilton area by hiring big name bands that had low prices for open dates.

He liked a range of music that included classical, big band, polka, and the polka-like sounds of Mexican music on the radio (which he didn't understand) while relaxing in the woods or at home.

He was-over time-a graduate of Boston University, working his way through school during the worst of the great depression. He earned a business degree and became a junior accountant in Boston.

Volunteering for military service in 1940, Langdell achieved the rank of Lieutenant Commander, US Naval Reserve with service aboard the USS Arizona, USS Frazier and ashore in the Western Pacific.

After WW II, he became an auctioneer, then manufacturer's representative for home furnishings companies, home furnishings store owner in Linda and Yuba City and an active retiree.

A 4-H member and Eagle Boy Scout as a youth, a Mason for seven decades, he was also a member of the Scottish Rite and several related organizations, a 65-year life member of the American Legion post in Wilton, New Hampshire, an officer of local Pearl Harbor Survivors Association chapters, a founding member and later President of the USS Arizona Reunion Association, for which he coordinated many annual reunions in Tucson, Arizona and established the practice of regularly returning to Hawaii for reunions. His last Arizona Reunion was the 70th Anniversary Pearl Harbor proceedings in 2011.

He participated in the Marysville Veteran's Day Parade from its beginning to the Nov. 11, 2014 parade where a contingent of U. S. Navy Chief Petty Officers from Northern California propelled his wheel chair down the parade route to cheers from the crowds on the sidewalks.

The family suggests memorial contributions to the Shriner's Hospital of Northern California in Sacramento: https://www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org/en/donate and select "SHC-Northern California."

Condolences and notice of planned attendance at the memorial services may be sent to: [email protected].

For Joe Langdell-loquacious, lover of a good story and the life of many parties-the party that just ended here will be well remembered by many, while another is likely to just be starting.

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Published in Appeal Democrat from Mar. 17 to Mar. 20, 2015
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