During the fall of 2015, Kimmons Junior High lost yet another beloved staff member — Patricia Copeland. Just 56 when she passed suddenly on Nov. 2, Mrs. Copeland was more than just a secretary behind a desk. She was a mother, friend, and caring wife. Having grown up in Fort Smith, Mrs. Copeland started her education at Sutton Elementary. She attended Kimmons, graduated from Northside High School in 1978, and then studied at UAFS, which, at the time, was called Westark Community College.
Mrs. Copeland left behind her husband Samuel and sons Sam Jr. and Corey, as well as her Kimmons family. Mrs. Linda King, secretary, worked with Mrs. Copeland for several years in the front office and remembers when Sam Jr. and Corey attended Kimmons.
“My most recent memory was our walk together for the Cancer fund in memory for Assistant Principal Norwood,” Mrs. King said. “Mrs. Copeland was a friendly lady with a big smile to welcome people to Kimmons. She had a big heart and cared about people. Most of us never knew about all the things she did to help others. She did a lot of volunteering for the Boys Club too.”
Because of Mrs. Copeland’s dedication to helping others, she received the Volunteer of the Year award from The Jeffery Boys and Girls Club. She was also President of Washington Cemetery. Not only was she a secretary, but Mrs. Copeland also worked at Superior Federal Bank, KHBS TV 40/29, and used to own Trisha’s Floral Creations.
“Mrs. Copeland was a strong presence as a face for Kimmons in her position as receptionist,” Principal Watkins said. “She brought a great knowledge of the community to her position.”
A long-time local resident, business owner, and volunteer, Mrs. Copeland was also an amazing friend to many.
“My best memory of Mrs. Copeland was the time we would spend after school talking and sharing,” Dr. Gray said. “We forged a special bond that only the two of us could share. Together we laughed and were even known to cry together as well. We would get so tickled about something and would not be able to control ourselves. We shared moments that only close friends or sisters could share. I remember her genuine smile and her creativity. She was, indeed, one of a kind.”
Mrs. Copeland left an impact on the lives of those surrounding her. She was an inspiration to many and was encouraging to others.
“I miss her friendship, her smile and the little laughs we shared,” Mrs. King said. “People we work with often became close to us like family because we spend so much time together. We shared together about our families and our daily experiences in life. I still think of things I want to tell her.”
When people entered Kimmons, the first thing they saw was Mrs. Copeland and her bright smile.
“I miss Mrs. Copeland sitting at the front desk with that smile of hers and her greeting me daily,” Dr. Gray said. “She was an excellent receptionist and her presence there is sorely missed. It is still difficult for me to go to the front office because I just expect her to be there. . . and she is not. That is the hardest part for me to bear.”
Mrs. Copeland liked to support others during harsh times. She put others before herself.
“I would describe Mrs. Patricia Copeland as a very compassionate person who cared a great deal for our students and staff,” Dr. Gray said. “I have witnessed her going above and beyond her duty to lend a helping hand. She was often misunderstood by others, but I know that she wanted to do what was right by all. She was very spiritual and tried to walk with God in every aspect of her daily life. Her family was most important to her and she would do anything to show that she truly cared.”