Jerry Copeland was born in Salisbury, Massachusetts on April 24, l926 to Walter Phillip Copeland and Carmelita McCarty. He attended school in rural New England in a one room school house. He joined the Marine Corps in 1944 and landed on the shores of Iwo Jima in February of 1945 where he was shot in the line of duty. He joined his surviving platoon brothers every year at Camp Pendleton, California up until the last year of his life.
After the war, he attended William Penn College in Iowa where he played football and where he became a Quaker. Although he attended other faith communities over the years, he remained a Quaker all the rest of his life. He became a member of Marloma Monthly Meeting in Long Beach, California and then transferred his membership in 1988 to Eugene Friends Meeting in Oregon. When he retired to Florence, Oregon, he joined in the Florence Worship Group in 1991 and was a faithful attender until his health declined in the fall of 2014.
With a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, a Masters in Special Education and a Doctorate in Educational Administration, Jerry held various positions throughout his life. He was a contributing journalist for Time and Life magazines, had several poems published in the American Poetry Anthology 1990, worked as a publicist for Monogram Movies in Hollywood and later caped off his professional career teaching special education students at the high school level in Southern California. Just months before his death, he published a children’s book he wrote for his grandchildren called “The Lion Who Loved to Laughed.”
Peace and social justice where passions of Jerry’s. He devoted years to work in an orphanage in Tecate, Mexico. In Florence, he was known for his work with the homeless, often taking them into his own home. He could be seen demonstrating for peace on the corner of Route 101 and Highway 126 with others for many years. He also demonstrated with the Catholic Workers for peace and served meals to those on skid row in Los Angeles. He spent years protesting nuclear weapons.
He loved music and singing hymns in his deep baritone voice. He purchased hymnal s for the Florence Worship Group when he learned they didn’t have any available. They are often used at Willamette Quarterly Meeting when sessions were held in Florence. He loved gardening, traveling, sending letters to the Editor expressing his strong beliefs and telling stories to anyone who would listen.
He felt he still had much to give, so he undertook heart surgery at 88. He never fully recovered, dying on Hospice at Hubbard’s Retreat in Florence on September 24, 2014. A memorial service was held at the ocean in Laguna Beach, California. He is survived by his three children: Craig, Kevin and Amanda. He had four grandchildren that he dedicated his final published work to: Jacob, Lila, Isaac and Isabella.