The Foster Child who successfully fostered

Unusual obituaries come along once in a while. Steve and I found this one endearing.


Joan Copeland chose Christmas to give up the goods and embark on her next adventure.

Her daughters, their husbands, several grandchildren, and her lifelong friend, Barbara Markland, were all with her at Carle Foundation Hospital to offer love as she transitioned.

She was born on July 25, 1934, to Louis and Elsie Fetters Silagy. She had a multitude of siblings. Severe hardship forced the family to scatter to the winds when she was a young girl.

She successfully fostered with the Gordon and Dorothy Almy famiiy of Indianola during grade school and then with the John and Opal Bettag family of Danville for her high school years. She graduated from Danville High School in 1552.

She went on to marry Don Carrigan and Benny Copeland Jr., both of whom departed before her. She turned down several other proposals of marriage over the years.

Those forced to forge ahead without her are [her three daughters, two sons-in-law, eight grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren.]

Also left behind is Sophie, her feline companion of 17 years and another longtime friend, Hazel Demeris of Champaign.

– News Gazette Obituary, Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015.

NOTE:  Joan Copeland “chose Christmas to give up the goods….” We all give up the goods in the end.  The deceased’s family provides a picture of someone we’d like to have known. Laced with humor – “she had a multitude of siblings” – and respect, they paint her not as a poor foster child but as an actor who “successfully fostered” with the Almy and Bettag families. At the same time they pay tribute by including the first names of all six of the parents, biological and foster alike, and the names of her closest friends human and feline. They include husbands Dan and Bennie but leave chose not to humiliate the suitors of “the several other proposals.”

19 thoughts on “The Foster Child who successfully fostered

  1. Pingback: She mowed the lawn in high heels! | VIEWS from the EDGE

  2. Hi, I am her oldest granddaughter Summer. My gran would have loved this!!My gran never left her house with out looking like a movie star from her big up do to her fur coats. She went to the top of a mountain on a dirt bike and mowed the yard in heals. Always had a cocktail and ready for some fun. We always had a project to do together from making jewelry, beading necklaces, sorting jewelry or gemstones. We even made picture frames with jewelry. My mom and I took her to get her tattoo. All three of us got one that day. Three generations getting a tattoo coolest thing ever. She loved her family more than anything else. She wrote notes on everything she ever gave me. She made a tote box for all her grandkids and when I opened mine it has every Christmas card, valentine , letter, picture I drew and my baby clothes. She kept everything I ever gave her my whole life was in this box. She treasured me as much as I did her. Thank you for taking the time to write about my amazing grandma


  3. Hi Gordon. This is Joan’s oldest daughter, Rebecca. My niece, Seylon, called her mother from Germany this afternoon just as my sis and I were sorting thru “the goods.” (There’s a packed house.) I cried as she read your column to us. I’ll have you know that I went all out when writing the obituary because my mother did not want a funeral. She said, “I don’t want a bunch of people strolling by my dead body pretending that they liked me. I know who my friends are.” To be led to your column was an amazing stroke of synchronicity, and I’m sure my mother would think you did right by her. My mother was not Cuban. Her father was a Romanian immigrant who came here as a child. Her mother was from Illinois, and we don’t know much more because the family split up when Joan was young. Her sailing trips to Cuba were w/ one of the prospects she finally told to go away. She was in her mid-60’s at the time, and wouldn’t hesitate to smoke a good cigar w/ you. Here’s just one more little tidbit I thought you might like. My mother enjoyed her martinis and for years she collected antique pewter. At my sister’s suggestion, we had her ashes put into a pewter cocktail shaker from her collection. When Seylon gets to come home on leave in July, we will scatter Joan’s ashes over her mother’s grave as per her wishes.


    • Hi, Rebecca, This just keep getting better! I abhor open caskets with people trooping by saying how good s/he looks. S/he DOESN’T look “good” – she looks dead! Three cheers for your mother, and I’ll lift a martini glass to her tonight – Vodka Martinis are my drink – and think of her turning down one of the marital prospects while watching porpoises smoking a Cuban cigar. -:)) I wish I had known her. BTW, it was Steve Shoemaker who lives in Urbana, IL who brought the obituary to my attention. Steve shares Views from the Edge with me. Where do you live?


      • Urbana is so close to where my family lives….we are all from Rantoul Illinois. It’s like a 25 mintue drive…and Mr. Gordon you and my grandma have something in common… She loved loved loved a good vodka martini…

        Liked by 1 person

        • Seylon, I had to go all the way to St. Augustine, FL to discover a GREAT vodka from MINNESOTA! Never seen it before. It’s called “Grays Peak” a small batch vodka flavored with Myer Lemons. Raising a glass tonight for your grandma, having just returned from a Vespers honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

          Do I have your permission and your aunt’s to create a new post on Views from the Edge?


  4. I’m her granddaughter…. She was amazing… Growing up she kept me smiling and giggling…she was a free soul… Cubans and Martinis…when I would stay the night she used to pour me ginger ale in a fancy glass cup so we could have woman time lol she never let her past define her…And her family was her life…Sophie her cat lol…meanest thang ever…but she loved her….I’m glad you all enjoyed reading the smallest excerpt of her life…if only you knew the stories of Cuba…her first tattoo at age 75….her passion for dancing…how dolled up she loved to get…my granny was a true diva…and amazing woman….inside and out…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Seylon, WHAT AN UNEXPECTED TREAT to hear from you. I never know who reads the blog, and most times assume the posts aren’t worth much attention, so to hear from you means a lot. Please say more about the Cuban references. Was she Cuban? Had she spent time in Cuba. Smoked Cuban cigars, drank Cuban rum?


      • I googled her name just to see if old real estate photos would pop up and stumbled across your blog. I. Called my mom she thought it was pretty cool. My grandma was Romanian….but she loved Cuba…she traveled there twice on a friends sailboat….I believe 92′ was either her first trip or second…I told her if They ever dropped the embargo and all the US citizens not being able to travel there I would take her there on vacation again. 🙂 i wish I could post pictures for you I have plenty of them from when she was there. She used to talk about the Dolphins that would swim along the sailboat. her first tattoo the family took her to get was of Dolphins and the word Cuba 🙂 she was 75. She would talk about how she brought a roll of shiny new pennies to give out to the kids there because she knew the country was poor and she thought it would be a cool gift to them. I guess a little boy she had met was not thrilled with the pennies…she used to say he expected more money then her little pennies. But she also loved cigars and used to smoke them. I am in the military and tried getting her cigars made from every place I’ve been…my last trip I got her a while box of Cubans…I told her we could crack the box open once I had my baby. She laughed, she said she didn’t even know if she could smoke one anymore.she mostly collected the boxes…. she collected a lot of stuff… antiques, paintings, everything 🙂 It’s crazy that her obituary got all the way to Minnesota. It’s pretty neat how someone who means so much to you can be a small part of a strangers life.


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