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'He had empathy for minorities and he was just a good man.' Flags being lowered in honor of former Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland

Warren Copeland
City of Springfield
City of Springfield
Warren Copeland, former Springfield mayor. He died January 22, 2024.

In Springfield, flags are being lowered to honor former mayor Warren Copeland. This morning he died after a lengthy illness. Copeland was 80. For 35 years, Copeland served in public office as a Springfield city commissioner, a mayor and on several boards.

WYSO’s Kathryn Mobley spoke with Patty Gentry-Young, a life- time Springfield resident. In the early 1990’s, Copeland appointed her to the Springfield Metropolitan Housing Authority board. A gesture Gentry-Young says moved her to become more involved with the community.

(This transcript was edited for brevity and clarity.)

WYSO Kathryn Mobley: Why was that such a prestigious board to be on in terms of having impact on the Springfield community?

Patty Gentry-Young: Well, at that time, that board was the board that handled more money than anything else in Springfield. And it was an opportunity for me to help, to learn how people live, how people that were disadvantaged were able to live, and how the city managed that. 

Gentry-Young: And I went over and said, 'Warren, you know, years ago you recommended me to be on the board for metropolitan housing. And I just think that was an honor that you thought I would be a perfect fit. And I want to thank you for that. And like I said, he looked at me and said, 'Um, okay, okay.' You know, but that's his personality. He's not a you know, he doesn't take compliments well.

Mobley: Copeland was also a Professor of Religion and Director of Urban Studies at Wittenberg University. In 1995, he was honored with the university’s most prestigious teaching recognition, the Alumni Association’s “Distinguished Teaching Award”.

Gentry-Young: Warren did his thesis on the civil rights movement, and I would repeat that to a lot of minorities because they didn't know that. And I felt that since he did that, he had a certain sympathy towards minorities because he knew all about our history.  He always lived on the, uh, Southwest side of Springfield.

Mobley: And why was that significant?

Gentry-Young: Because that's where a lot of, uh, minorities lived. That's where we live. Okay, then that live not too far from me. But that's where he was comfortable staying.

Mobley: And what did you feel that communicated about Warren’s character?

Gentry-Young: I would say Warren was fair and he had, like it said, he had empathy for minorities and he was just a good man.

That was Springfield resident Patty Gentry-Young sharing a reflection with WYSO’s Kathryn Mobley regarding longtime Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland.

During his time in office–Former Mayor Warren Copeland initiated several collaborations to promote Springrield’s growth and development including the passage of the Cooperative Economic Development agreement between the City, Clark County and Springfield Township, as well as the Joint Economic Development District with Green Township.

Copeland leaves behind his wife Clara Coolman Copeland of 59 years, a retired kindergarten teacher from the Springfield City School District. They shared three children and seven grandchildren.Details regarding service arrangements will be released at a later date and time.

Kathryn Mobley is an award-winning broadcast journalist, crafting stories for more than 30 years. She’s reported and produced for TV, NPR affiliate and for the web. Mobley also contributes to several area community groups. She sings tenor with World House Choir (Yellow Springs), she’s a board member of the Beavercreek Community Theatre and volunteers with two community television operations, DATV (Dayton) and MVCC (Centerville).

Email: kmobley@wyso.org
Cell phone: (937) 952-9924