William G. Copeland, at the age of 86 years old, ran his last race on February 2, 2021 as he passed from us in Naples, Florida to heaven.
Bill ran for his life and he ran for everyone but himself. It started at a young age when Bill’s father, who was a special forces New York City police officer, died of a heart attack on the church steps after daily mass. The first race was then on as Bill became the head of the household for his mother, sister and younger brother, a victim of encephalitis, which left his brother severely debilitated. With no income and the support needed for his family, college never looked so far away.
Bill attended Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx, NY and soon discovered what he knew from street ball: he was fast. So fast, in fact, that he became the fastest high school runner in the country in the half mile. Winning races in the old Madison Square Garden attracted the attention of the New York Times with front page pictures, a full scholarship from the track coach of the University of Notre Dame and the interests of the beautiful and amazing Patricia Dahlinger. The runner was so humble, kind, funny, smart, handsome, patient and faithful that Patricia agreed to be Bill’s best trainer, partner, wife and the wind beneath his wings for any race he wanted to run.
After Bill’s graduation from Notre Dame and Pat and Bill’s wedding, the next phase began with a trip to the University of Pennsylvania for a Master’s Degree in Economics from
Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. While in Philadelphia, Bill Jr. was born, the first of six children. As an Air Force ROTC officer at Notre Dame, the next stop was the 52nd Fighter-Interceptor Wing including the new nuclear-armed F-101 “Voodoo”. After the service for his country, Bill, Pat and their three children (Bill Jr., Vincent and Patrice) headed to Dayton, Ohio for Bill’s first leadership role as an economist for Mead Corporation. Bill’s success as an economist created new opportunities to work in Wall Street and return back to New York City. Now the trip in the car from Dayton to Stamford, Connecticut included three more children: Susan, Eileen and Kathy.
Bill joined McKay Shields and eventually began the CEO of the economics consulting and advisory business for the Firm. In 1980 Bill acquired the business and moved it to Connecticut, where it became the national market leader in a diverse set of industry’s including paper, manufacturing and health care. Given Bill’s expertise and insights he became a resource for organizations in Europe, the U.S. Congress and U.S. Commerce Secretary. Bill’s growth, expertise and success of Copeland Economics Group was heavily dependent of his partner in the business, Pat Copeland. Pat covered the bases, including driving from Connecticut to pick-up the PhD student with a hot dinner at New York University to handling the people management, bills, travel, attending client events all over the world and client relationship management.
The team of Bill and Pat Copeland was sixty-four years in the making. Despite many challenges, like the untimely death of their son Vincent Copeland at 40 years old in a car accident, their faith, hope and love powered the lives of thousands of people. It was a beautiful testament of God’s grace and the power of an extraordinary marriage.
The family committed to honoring Bill as their hero include his wife Patricia Copeland, and their six children, twenty grandchildren and three great grandchildren who are: son William Copeland Jr. & (Mary) Philadelphia, PA, and their children, Sarah Copeland Armstrong (Chris), Katie Copeland Alvayero (Joe), William Copeland (Lauren), Nate Demmy, Nicholas Demmy, Grace Copeland and great grandsons Conor Armstrong, Owen Alvayero & Dashiell Copeland; daughter-in-law Kelly Copeland (Scott Dorf) Sarasota, FL, and her children, Kevin and Christopher, daughter Patrice Copeland Ainsworth (Mark) Holmes, NY, and their children, Darby and Kaleigh, daughter Susan Copeland Donnelly (Michael) New Canaan, CT and their children, Colleen Donnelly Pearson (Evan), Maggie, and Michael (Flannery); daughter Eileen Copeland Marks (Roger)Greenwich, CT, and their children Erin Marks Kiss (Matthias), Haley, Ryan and Sean; daughter Kathleen Copeland Swanson (Ben) Atlanta, GA, and their children Sophia, Charlie and Ingrid.
Aside from his parents, Bill was predeceased by his son, Vincent (2000), a sister Suzanne Copeland, a brother Donald Copeland, as well as Fr. Vincent Raitz, a mentor and close family friend.
A memorial Zoom service was held for his family and close friends on Valentine’s Day, one of his favorite holidays, when he loved to shower his “girls” with gifts and handwritten notes. Later this year, there will be a Catholic Funeral Mass and celebration of his life when all the family and friends can come together safely.
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