Obituary of Owen "Geoff" Geoffrey Copland
I met Geoff in 1976 in Papua New Guinea. He had been working in the aviation department when there was a terrible crash in which the pilot, Darlene Bee (a Bible translator from New Zealand), and others died due to a mechanical error. Darlene's life made a big impact on Geoff, and here is a poem she wrote in 1972 before the crash:
A Time for Dying
Perhaps the moment after ecstasy
After feeling the full fierce force of life,
After knowing love and while love is still warm
Perhaps that is the time for dying.
Before everything and one has turned sour
Before life is a burden
Before the thrill of waking to a new day is gone
Before we long for death…
To die bursting with life
Brimming with vitality, longing to live
Perhaps this is the time to die and live
Owen 'Geoff' Geoffrey Copland was born on March 13, 1945 to a farming family in New Zealand. He had two older brothers, Brian and Winston. Geoff loved the farm and farming life, chasing sheep to different paddocks for summer and winter feed, doing scheduled ‘sheep maintenance’ such as ‘dipping’ and shearing. Farming is an outdoor and often challenging life and the three brothers worked on the farm for several years. Geoff dedicated his life to the Lord Jesus Christ and chose to leave the farm as a young man. After some time at the Bible College of New Zealand in Auckland he felt the call to go to Papua New Guinea (PNG). Fifty years ago, he spent eighteen months in Imonda, in the West Sepik (fairly swampy) and assisted Bob Brown to get a start on a language project for Bible translation. Bob was able to complete that translation after thirty years. Geoff had a fervent desire to return to PNG and felt God was calling him back. He was very excited as we began planning that journey for August 2023.
From a humble sheep farmer beginning, Geoff became a shepherd of people. After getting married in 1976 he managed ‘centers’ in Lae and Rabaul PNG. These jobs always served people at a guest house in Lae, assisting Bible translators, and he helped to locate several new translation teams in the Rabaul and Islands regions. He rode small aircrafts and boats, hiked trails, and rode on buses and in the back of pickup trucks to get his job done.
When we unexpectedly had to move to California, Geoff entered the Hospice chaplaincy. He brought comfort to many people as they made their way to eternity. After retirement twelve years ago, Geoff took English as a second language classes (ESL) and proceeded to use this new skill continuing to help others. He taught English with Bible materials in Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma), and Nepal. He made several trips back to Myanmar to teach in a small Bible college that former students started. Before COVID-19, he and a colleague went to Nepal to teach English to a small group of translators working on oral Bible story translation. He was so disappointed to not be able to return due to travel restrictions.
We began the move to Colorado Springs, Colorado in late 2018 after selling the Jamul home and doing an Alaska highway road trip. Geoff enjoyed being with grandchildren in the springs for a few years before they relocated, and he has been joyfully involved in cooking church meals as well as working with refugee and foster care families. He trained as a Stephen Minister and was visiting an individual which was fulfilling, and most recently was very excited to begin driving for Silver Key, a volunteer organization that helps seniors to appointments and shopping. In fact, that was his day on Monday, January 23rd. He visited his ‘care receiver’ and completed his afternoon driving schedule when he collapsed and unexpectedly (at least to us) left to be in the presence of Our Lord and Savior.
Geoff would like to be remembered for his love of family, three sons, and nine grandchildren. He lived a life of service to others and died after doing what he loved most: serving God in practical ways.
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."
Memorial Service, 2:00PM MST, Saturday, March 4, 2023, Bethel Lutheran Church, 4925 Farmingdale Drive, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80917.
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In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Wycliffe Bible Translators, https://www.wycliffe.org/donate.