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Howard E. Copeland

Howard E. Copeland Obituary
Howard Copeland received his diagnosis of a very rare form of cancer named chordoma on August 6, 2016. Howards reaction was consistent with the serenity he had gained through alcoholics anonymous. He relayed to his family his thoughts to himself: ""Well, I was wondering how long I would live.""
At that time he vowed to himself that he would fight this disease and he would live everyday God gave him, fully and cheerfully. Within 24 hours he also came to this conclusion: ""this is a golden opportunity to share the grace and power of God in my life."" And share with others he did, wherever he was. On airplanes, at MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the National Institutes of Health. Howard had felt he was blessed to have been prepared for this sharing by his spiritual epiphany that occurred on October 22, 2003, when his wife of 37 years had come close to death when a tractor trailer hit her Jeep Cherokee en route to a social work conference in northern VA. He felt that God had spared her for a purpose and later that purpose was realized in the social work that she did. She changed social policy in the city of Norfolk and that change had been honored in the city of Norfolk with a permanent memorial to her located at the Norfolk fitness and wellness center.
Howard Copeland, born to Hubert Edgar Copeland and Helen Copeland received his Bachelor's Degree from Colombia University and entered the U.S. Coast Guard after graduation in 1967. He was commissioned at Officer Candidate School at Yorktown, Virginia and went on to the University of Virginia School of Law where he would graduate with his Juris Doctor in 1973.
During his active enlistment Howard went into battle in Vietnam aboard the 255-foot Coast Guard Cutter Androscoggin. Ensign Copeland was Combat Information Officer when the Androscoggin successfully engaged and destroyed an enemy infiltration vessel in a battle at sea in the Tet Offensive. Howard served four years on active duty and 22 years in the reserve, holding three commands and retiring at the rank of Captain, after commanding 400 Coast Guard Reservists in Southeast North Carolina including stateside support of the Persian Gulf War. Captain Copeland attended the Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island, and was named the outstanding student in a class of 300 senior officers at the National Defense University at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C. Captain Copeland has been decorated with 21 medals and service ribbons for his performance of his military service.
Howard E. Copeland was named one of the 5 outstanding men of Virginia by the Virginia Jaycees in 1975, where in the same year he would begin his career practicing law as an attorney. In 1980 Howard would be elected to the Virginia House of Delegates where he would write law for 16 years. Howards very accomplished career also includes holding the Special Assistant to the Attorney General from 1974-1975 and holding the seat of Special Justice from 2015- 2019, where he presided over cases involving mental health. His associations, affiliations and awards include Virginia State Bar, Norfolk & Portsmouth Bar Association, Reserve Officers Association of the United States, Military Officers Association of America, American Legion, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Howard joins in heaven his wife of 51 years Marylin Copeland who passed into eternal life in February of 2017, and his eldest son Eric Copeland, who passed into eternal life in May of 2018. Howard is survived by his youngest son Joshua Copeland of Virginia Beach, where he lives with his wife Nadia and her daughter Cassie, and with Howard's very ""grand"" daughter- the apple of his eye Emiley Copeland. He is also survived by Lauren Suarez, his companion since late 2017, who provided him friendship, love and comfort until his last moments.
At the moment of receiving his diagnosis, Howard was grateful through that circumstance and also his spiritual epiphany from his wife's accident, that he was able to have the peace of mind to accept the possibility of death. Howard passed away peacefully at 5:11pm on April 11, 2019 surrounded by his loved ones in his sons' home, after 2 years and 8 months of fighting cancer as a ""Happy Warrior"". Howards fire and passion impacted the lives of so many people in his decades of service, and he did so genuinely and with selflessness in action.
Funeral services will be held Wednesday, April 17, 2019 at 12:00 P.M. in Trinity Lutheran Church. Burial will follow at Forest Lawn Cemetery. The family will receive friends in the Norfolk Chapel of H.D. Oliver Funeral Apts. Tuesday evening from 5 to 7 P.M. and online condolences may be offered to the family at hdoliver.com.
Published in The Virginian Pilot on Apr. 14, 2019
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