Cover photo for Donald Copelin's Obituary
Donald Copelin Profile Photo
1927 Donald 2014

Donald Copelin

February 16, 1927 — August 31, 2014

Life Story for Donald Elihue Copelin

Don was born in Philadelphia, PA on February 16, 1927 to Mary and Samuel H. Copelin a trial lawyer for the Philadelphia Rapid Transit and an attorney and judge for the Pennsylvania Utility Commission.. His father wrote a letter to Don every day of his life. Don died at his home in Ketchum, Idaho August, 2014 of a natural but undetermined cause.

Don adored his older sister Harriett Greenfield, now deceased. He was married briefly in his 20's, divorced, and had no children. Five nieces and nephews survive him.

Don graduated with a BA in Economics from Penn State University in 1952 (financed in part by the GI Bill) where he was President of his Sophomore Class, a member of the Debating Society, the varsity lacrosse and basketball teams, and Pi Gamma Mu National Social Science Honorary. He earned a Masters of Science from New York University in 1953. He attended the University of Miami School of Law from 1957-58, and Northwestern University Graduate School of Business as a Ph.D. candidate with a US Steel Foundation grant. He withdrew from the last two institutions deciding he was not a lawyer or academic at heart.

Don volunteered for military service in 1944 and served in the US Army Far East Command 1945-1947 where he was stationed at General Headquarters, Tokyo, Japan during the US occupation following WWII. He trained as an infantry rifleman at Fort McClellan, Alabama at the end of WWII. He retired from the US Coast Guard Reserve in 1977 as a Lieutenant Commander.

His activities in life included the Soccer Club in Aspen, CO., and crewing on large sailboats in the Caribbean, off New England, Canada, and Europe. While sailing off Spain he lived through a maelstrom where he lost his mast and nearly drowned but for rescue by a Brazilian lobster boat. He played tennis, ran, biked, and flew planes in his youth. He was a Co-director, administrative assistant, film editor, and soundman for Norman Dyrenfurth, who led the first American expedition to Everest and was a mountain climbing documentarian of Gmbh, Everest Films, Frankfurt, East Germany from 1979-1985. One film, The Tibetan Death Rites film received Best Mountain Film, Trento, Italy Mountain Film Festival, Grand Prize Les Diableret at the Switzerland Film Festival in 1981, and the Golden Eagle Award, at the C.I.N.E. Film Festival, Washington D. C. in 1983.

His community service included the Aspen Historical Society, Commissioner, City of Aspen PNZ, and Commissioner for the City of Aspen Liquor Investigating Commission.

After graduating from college, he held various positions as a department store buyer and manager in New York City and Miami Beach, Florida, a coordinator of the Miami Technical School Distributive Education program, and its tennis coach, and as a mathematics teacher at St. Paul's School where he also coached the lacrosse team.

Later, from 1964-1970, he was the owner /operator of the Floradora Lodge, a historic Victorian building, in Aspen, CO mentioned in Ski Magazine as one of the 10 best ski lodges.

Don also was the owner/operator of the Crossbuck Cafe in Elkhorn, ID, a stockbroker with Paine Webber, A.G. Edwards, I.M. Simon, and a ski Instructor for the Sun Valley Ski School, 1975-2005. He also taught Retail Management at Shoreline Community College outside of Seattle.

Copie the Man
Don was a tall, roguish, scary-smart, energetic, and never shy nor boring, impossible-to- ignore, conventional/unconventional, physically strong and coordinated man who’s personal and work lives were rife with contradictions.

A man of the people, he spurned his early life of privilege and chose instead to live with few possessions and fewer services.

He was a loner who sought out company. He married briefly in his twenties to a Grace Kelly look alike, but ultimately he was more devoted to his Australian boarder collie named Fleaky. One friend said: Don knows a lot of dogs.

He was a man of intellect who turned away from academia and graduate degrees within his grasp.

Don knew which fork to use and was comfortable in elevated social settings, but disdained those "swells" he felt did not respect the working poor.

A talented athlete, he embraced skiing at which he did not particularly excel, but fell in love with while in Japan during WWII. His skiing bliss directed the course of his life, taking him to Aspen, Europe, and finally Sun Valley. His love-hate relationship with Sun Valley was generated by a longing for the beauty, simplicity, and tranquility of mountains coupled with disdain for those who "owned" them.

Besides skiing, he loved history, poetry, many people and Churchill in particular, his bicycle, dogs, cats, and all other creatures, good liquor, dictionaries (he owned a $900 one) and any adventure. He was handsome for most of his life, but hated the self-focusing aspect of grooming. He once was reprimanded for wearing a rope in place of a belt with his Sun Valley Ski School uniform.

A raconteur and joke teller, he made us laugh. But, later in life he was an emotional Oreo, happy outside but sad within.

He respected the discipline and order in the military but in other endeavors refused to be controlled by those in authority or directed by bureaucratic rules.

Don sought the "keys to the kingdom" through work as a stockbroker, but invariably did not know the value of his own portfolio. He repaid many of those for whom he lost money. What broker does that? He was an honorable man.

Many environmental causes and people in need were supported financially by Don, but he denied himself basic comforts, especially in old age.

He read people better than a psychic.

A dynamic and compelling character, he gave milk bones to dogs, and color to Sun Valley's winter white and summer green. So, when you ski, ski for him.

Mostly, he was fun.
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