OBITUARY: ELSA COPPEDGE
Elsa Mayvor Coppedge, born to naturalized Swedish immigrants Erik and Kristina Ingels on May 3, 1925 in Los Angeles, passed away peacefully on April 13, 2014, just three weeks before her 89th birthday.
Every home Elsa lived in till marriage was built by her father, a master builder, and designed by her mother. Growing up in Los Angeles during the Depression with her brothers Sven and Arney and sister Doris, Elsa as a teen moved with her family into a new home her father built in the Hollywood hills. She attended Hollywood High School, where she became captain of the girls' volleyball team nicknamed "Ingels' Angels." Her graduation was held at the Hollywood Bowl. After working as an executive secretary and bank teller during the war years, she met James Fletcher Coppedge, a seminary graduate from Tennessee, who had moved to California to serve as an associate pastor while applying for the chaplaincy in the Navy. He met Elsa while planning youth meetings with volunteer youth leaders at local churches, and knew immediately she was "the one" for him. He called her his "Angel of the Hollywood Hills." They were married on August 18, 1945 just before he was sent to Virginia for his chaplaincy training.
During her husband's deployment as a Navy chaplain on an aircraft carrier, their first daughter Jeanne was born. Two years later, in 1948, their 2nd daughter Judy came. After active duty, Chaplain Coppedge and Elsa were seeking a church in which to minister, when they were invited instead to help veteran families in a crowded, low-income community of military barracks set up below Hansen Dam in Sun Valley called Basilone Homes (now a golf course). Moved by the needs there, they held weekly church services in the metal Community Building (still standing), and ministered to all who lived there. They invited the children into youth clubs Chaplain named after the elite corps of World War II, the Rangers (for teens) and the Christian Commandos (for grade school kids), run with a military theme to foster character development and leadership training. Their son David was born during these years, in 1951.
The clubs grew so successful, Chaplain and Elsa prayed for a youth center. In 1954, with the help of Mrs. Ruth Kerr of the Kerr Glass Company, who donated the down payment, they obtained a prime ranch property in Northridge at the corner of Devonshire St. and White Oak Ave. Owned by the church pastored by Chaplain Coppedge, the Valley Cathedral Youth Center eventually grew to 14.5 acres with horse corrals, a pool, and lots of outdoor space. James and Elsa ran a vibrant youth ministry there, with the theme of "Action, Adventure, and Leadership Training", for 44 years, bringing children and teenagers from all over the San Fernando Valley, from Woodland Hills to Tujunga, from North Hollywood to Chatsworth. While Chaplain was the up-front leader of the organization, Elsa was his tireless, faithful helper, working countless jobs such as coordinating all the transportation of children to and from the Youth Center, preparing refreshments, and running the entire operation whenever her husband was out taking Ranger groups on backpacking trips in the Sierras?all this while being the loving mother of her three children. Also, for 15 years, Chaplain and Elsa also produced the Valley-wide Easter Sunrise Services at Devonshire Downs (Devonshire and Zelzah, now CSUN North Campus). In addition, Elsa administered Devonshire Day Nursery from 1961 to 1986. She was vital to the Summer Camp and Afterschool Care activities as well. By the late 1980s, as the youth clubs were winding down and Elsa was entering her senior years, she loved helping with meetings of the Bible-Science Association and North Hills Christian Academy, both of which enjoyed use of the spacious ranch property.
After the ranch was sold in 1998, Elsa cared for her husband while he declined with Alzheimer's disease for the next six years. During this difficult time, her oldest daughter Jeanne died of cancer in New York (June, 2000). The selfless, loving care she provided her daughter and husband was exemplary to all who witnessed it. After her husband's death in 2004, she favored moving the headquarters of the non-profit ministry (renamed Master Plan Association, with her son David now president of the board) to a property in Lebec, to be near her daughter and son-in-law, Fred Rose, who was pastor at the Evangelical Free Church of Frazier Park. There, with a guest house providing a measure of independence, she enjoyed seven peaceful years delighting in the growth of her grandchildren, till she began to decline herself in 2011, gradually losing physical and mental capacity till her "graduation" to heaven on April 13.
Elsa was known for her unselfish kindness to all. She never complained, never criticized, and never dodged work that needed to be done. She gave of herself profusely, expecting nothing in return. Chaplain Coppedge wrote of her as the "unsung hero" of the youth work, his perfect companion and support. Possessing inward and outward beauty, Elsa was always humble, encouraging, and thankful. Even as her mind began to wane, the words "Thank you, Lord" were frequently on her lips. Devoted to prayer, her greatest joy was to serve others and the Lord Jesus Christ. With her passing goes another exemplary member of The Greatest Generation, survivors of the Great Depression and World War II, a faithful wife and mother in a nuclear family that prayed together and stayed together.
Elsa Coppedge is survived by her sister Doris with husband Gordon Pearson, her son David, her daughter Judy with husband Fred Rose and their seven adult children (Elsa's grandchildren), Matthew, Michelle, Nathan, Aaron, Christi, Tim, and David Rose; also 7 nieces and nephews with their families living in Washington, California and Florida.
A graveside service for family and close friends will be held at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills on Friday, April 25, at 3:00 p.m. (Bright Eternity section). A larger memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 26, at 3:00 p.m. in the chapel at Grace Community Church, 13248 Roscoe Blvd., Sun Valley, California 91352. Dinner will be served after the service.
Online tributes can be submitted on Facebook: www.facebook.com/elsa.m.coppedge . Donations to her charity, or flowers for the memorial, can be sent via the Forest Lawn tribute page, http://hosting-19539.tributes.com/show/Elsa-Mayvor-Coppedge-101251301 .
Published in Los Angeles Daily News on Apr. 19, 2014