David Lee Copeland, age 87, of Oak Ridge, TN, passed away peacefully on July 14, 2023. David was born on October 29, 1935, in the pre-Oak Ridge community of Robertsville to J. Nash & Juanita Lowe Copeland. When he was seven years old, his family moved to Clinton to make way for the Manhattan Project. David attended school in Clinton and in Sarasota, Florida before his family moved back to Tennessee where he graduated from Oak Ridge High School in 1953. After a year at the University of Tennessee and a brief stint in the Navy, David began working for the B. F. Goodrich Tire Company as a tire representative servicing area stores and garages. While working training for this job at Farrport on Alcoa Highway he met Johnnie Brockman. They had four children and were married for almost 68 years before Johnnie’s death on May 4, 2023. David’s assignments with B.F. Goodrich took his growing family to Gainesville, GA, Dalton, GA, Crossville, TN, and Athens, TN. While living in Athens during the 1960s, David was active in the BPOE 1927 Elks Lodge and served as one of its youngest Exalted Rulers. He and Johnnie also served as co-campaign chair of the McMinn County Republican party.
In 1970, the Copeland family relocated back to Oak Ridge where David began running Copeland Auto Supply after his father’s retirement. He continued his involvement in the Elks at BPOE Lodge 1684 eventually serving as Exalted Ruler, and as a member of the Ritual Team. David was also on the Board of Directors for the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce and active in Rotary.
After retirement in the 1990s, David became involved in the Oak Ridge Playhouse, serving on its Board of Directors and acting in several productions, including “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” where his role forever earned him the nickname “Big Daddy” by many who knew him from that time. During the 90’s he also appeared in several local television commercials, and print ads, and had a small but memorable speaking part as “Coach Gainer” in the feature film “October Sky.”
David also enjoyed golf with a group of dear friends. David & Johnnie went on many a golfing trip to the courses around the U.S. and to Scotland. David also enjoyed time with his friends “The Coffee Mafia.”
David was preceded in death by wife Johnnie Copeland; son, Mark Douglas Copeland; and brother, Robert Nash Copeland.
Survivors include daughter and son-in-law, Terry & Robert Pfeiffer of Oak Ridge; son and daughter-in-law, David, Jr. & Kandi Copeland of Oak Ridge; daughter and son-in-law Jean & Barry Wells of Gallatin; grandson, Matthew Eli Miller; granddaughter, Kelly Copeland Williams (Chris); step-grandson, Michael Pfeiffer (Megan Wade); brother and sister-in-law, Bill and Pat Copeland of Pearl River, LA; great-granddaughter, Audrey Akin; step-great grandsons, Addicus and Adrien Simpson; and several nieces and nephews.
The family will receive friends 10-11 am Saturday, July 29, 2023, at First United Methodist Church Oak Ridge. A memorial service will follow at 11 am with on with Rev. Mark Flynn officiating. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent to the charity of your choice. Online condolences may be left at weatherfordmortuary.com.