Billy Dewayne Copeland, 85, passed away peacefully at his residence in Bartlesville, shedding his earthly body to join the Lord of glory on Monday, October 2, 2017.
Bill was born during the Great Depression on March 7, 1932, in Beggs, OK, to James Asa (Bill) Copeland and Gladys Alma (Stout) Copeland. His earliest years included a move to California, where the small family briefly shared living quarters in a railroad boxcar with three other families. By the time he started school, the family was back in Oklahoma, residing on a ranch west of Skiatook, though the greater part of his youth was spent in Beggs, where he attended school, played football, and met his future bride, Gladys Geraldine (Geri) Baker. They married in June 1950, driving to Arkansas so they could wed at an earlier age, shortly before he reported for active duty in the US Army. He was stationed at Fort Polk, LA, serving as a tank instructor, but an emergency appendectomy prevented him from shipping out with his unit to Korea. He was instead transferred to oversee a typing pool, and later joked, "I'd have (almost) preferred being shipped out."
After his discharge from the army he returned to the Tulsa area working briefly for McDonnell Douglas. In 1952 he and Geri moved to Pasadena, TX, where he began work for Phillips 66 Petroleum at their Adams Terminal facility. Their first son, Dale Wayne Copeland, was born there in 1952, followed by Michael Lee in 1955 and Kenneth Gerald in 1960. During their time in Pasadena, Bill worked in a variety of Phillips jobs including route driver, locomotive operator, and crane operator. In 1963 the family transferred to Bartlesville, where Bill served in the Phillips company services division maintaining the heating and cooling systems for their myriad facilities.
During all this time Bill honed his lifelong interest in building and fixing things. This included complete rebuilds of cars and trucks, with engines, bodywork, and painting listed among his skills. He also gathered and repaired home appliances, an experience that brought him demand around town for repairs to heating and air conditioning plus household appliances. In August 1970, he took this a step further when he followed a long-time dream and officially opened a business: Copeland Appliance was founded in a tiny building in Dewey across from the library. The business grew rapidly, leading to the purchase of a larger location on Don Tyler Street and Dale and his wife, Donna, joining the firm in 1972. With its continued growth, Bill made the difficult decision that year to leave Phillips Petroleum after more than 20 years to devote full time to the appliance operation. In November 1973, Bill purchased the Fullhart Furniture Company at 120 W. Frank Phillips in downtown Bartlesville, and later bought the building from Terrence F. (Bee) Lobaugh in 1978. The business expanded from appliance sales and service to include furniture and electronics. From its humble beginnings, Bill had a passion for visiting with and helping people and took great pride in serving Bartlesville, even supplying the cooling system for the Price Tower in the late 1970s. The business at one time employed all three Copeland sons and provided hands-on experience to several Copeland grandkids as well.
Never one to be satisfied with any single activity, in the late 1970s Bill and Geri began purchasing and renovating numerous rental properties in Bartlesville and Okmulgee. This not only allowed them to help people with good, affordable housing, it also offered another outlet for his desire to repair and create. No project was too large to tackle as they often gutted an interior to be able to restore it fully.
After selling the appliance business to Dale and Donna, Bill officially retired in 1997. He and Geri were free to follow another dream: traveling in their RV, often caravanning with several of Geri's siblings and their spouses. From exploring antebellum mansions in the South to the shores of Nova Scotia, they enjoyed stopping in small towns to visit and collect items of interest. He also enjoyed woodworking in his "New Okie Workshop, founded in 2003" and stayed busy with projects as long as his health allowed.
Bill was a dedicated servant of his Lord and Savior, frequently chatting with strangers about the Lord, inviting them to church, and handing out gospel tracts. He served as a deacon at Trinity Baptist Church in Bartlesville for many years, where he took responsibility for property maintenance and repairs. Rather than overseeing projects, he preferred to tackle jobs himself and get them done to his exacting standards. After remodeling classrooms, the fellowship hall, kitchen, library, offices, and sanctuary, it's unlikely there is a square foot of space in the entire church facility that doesn't bear his handiwork.
Billy D. Copeland leaves behind his loving wife of 67 years, Gladys Geraldine Copeland; three sons: Dale (Donna), Michael (Lynn), and Kenneth (Janice), all of Bartlesville; eight grandchildren, who were all his favorites: Jon, Nathan, Kris, Megan, Justin, Shane, Mickey, and Matt; eleven great-grandchildren; his brother, Donald Gene Copeland (Sandra) of Ponca City and their children, Darren and Stephanie; and his church family who meant so much to him. He was preceded in death by his parents.
We have lost a brother, husband, father, grandfather, friend, neighbor, mentor, and a Christ-loving role model. Our great loss is heaven's eternal gain.
Visitation is set for 6-8 pm, Thursday, October 5 at the funeral home. The funeral service will be held at 2 pm, Friday, October 6 at Stumpff Funeral Home, 1600 SE Washington Blvd., with Tom Cox officiating. Interment to follow at Memorial Park Cemetery. Friends who wish may sign the online guestbook and leave condolences at www.stumpff.org.
Memorial contributions may be made to Cancer Research Institute, www.cancerresearch.org
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