The Maltby Community Club was full last Saturday as friends and family gathered to pay tribute to a local patriot, Sue Copeland. Many rose to speak of Sue’s influence in their lives. With permission of the authors, The Reagan Wing presents the following prepared remarks that were delivered on Saturday.
Julie Finrow Curkendall
Sue’s sister presented what if we give it a title, would be called Sue’s eulogy:
I am going to share a little biographical information along with some random personal experiences and reflections on my life with Sue.
Sue Ellen Finrow was born on November 12, 1946, the third of four children of Donald M. Finrow and Betty Ann Carter Finrow. Our family lived on Lake Washington Boulevard in Montlake, near the Arboretum, the Museum of History and Industry and the University of Washington. It was a great place to grow up. We could walk to school [and] come home for lunch. There was a whole neighborhood full of kids of various ages. We played baseball, 500 or work-up, in the intersection on Roanoke, and in the summer evenings we played Kick the Can and Red-Light Green-Light in the dark. We often visited the Museum by ourselves (it was free then) and played in the Arboretum across the street.
One of the photos [here] is of a Christmas tree. It caught my eye because Sue often told a story about one of the items in the picture. She was four and I was 6 months old. She received a toy bassinet for her doll and she put me in it. I fell through, putting a hole in her new toy. Personally, I don’t remember the incident and never held it against her.
The Finrows were all avid readers and Sue was no exception. She made frequent trips to our little Montlake library. At one point she read all the fairy tale books she could find. Another time it was biographies and there was always historical fiction. Most of the time Sue and I shared a bedroom. It was not unusual for us to read under the covers with a flashlight. For if our parents saw the light on in the room they would make us turn it out and go to sleep. On some occasions they had to unscrew the fuse in the electrical panel. When we were supposed to be cleaning our room on Saturdays books often had to be hastily hidden under the mattress. Mother was pretty tolerant though because she was a reader, too.
Sue was a Camp Fire Girl and played the violin in the All-City Orchestra. In high school and college, she sang in choir, and always enjoyed singing the alto part during the hymns at church.
In college Susie was a big sister to me for two years. We lived in the same dorm, one floor apart. Her friends were very nice about letting me hang out with them, especially when I was a freshman. But she was also a Big Sister to Bernice, a local high school girl who needed some good companionship and mentoring.
Sue graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education in 1969. She returned to Seattle, took some graduate courses at the University of Washington and was a substitute teacher in the Seattle School District for a year. Jobs were scarce at the time. In 1970 she got a teaching job at Wishkah Valley School District near Aberdeen and bought her first car. She taught junior high and high school Home Ec and PE for two years. Five different preparations kept her busy.
In 1972, after the completion of the school year and a trip to Europe she returned to Seattle and joined Verax Chemical Company, her parents’ family business which was preparing to move to Maltby from the University District. She lived in a house on the new property and helped supervise the renovations of the former chicken farm. Sue promptly embraced country life, making friends with the neighbors, adopting a dog, two kittens and visiting the livestock auctions in Snohomish. She bought some ducks and geese and planted a vegetable garden. The business moved to the new location in November 1972 and has been there ever since.
In 1974 she married Richard Copeland and they purchased a home in Maltby where they lived for about five years. Besides a vegetable garden, they tried their hands at raising rabbits and pigs. Following a lesson from neighbor Phyllis Bresheare, Sue butchered the rabbits and quickly decided that raising rabbits was not for her.
Sue loved children. Together she and Dick raised four sons, Matthew, Jonathan, David and Stephen. In 1979 the family moved to Bremerton where they had their own grocery store and deli. Later they lived in Lakewood for a couple of years and in 1988 moved back to the Northshore area and Sue returned to work at Verax with me. I was thrilled.
Growing up, we all worked at the business in the summertime, making mops and lambswool applicators, packing hand soap, filing and doing bookkeeping (no computers then). Our office was about a mile from home and we could ride our bikes there, across the Montlake Bridge, past the University Hospital and a few blocks further to Brooklyn Avenue. You can be sure that a book always accompanied Sue.
A family business is not just a business operated by family members. It is a business that values family. Employees, customers and vendors all become family. We look after each other. We know that there are extenuating circumstances sometimes and we cover for each other. I cannot tell you how many times Sue covered for me. Her being there allowed me to do volunteer work at school, for church, projects at home, take care of emergencies and much more.
The most amazing part of working with Sue has been to see abilities expressed in the last ten years or so that I did not know she possessed. She has taken on complicated projects that no one else wanted to handle and successfully taken them to completion.
The Finrows were always interested in history, economics and politics and there was often talk of such things at the family dinner table. Grandma Carter and Aunt Edna Finrow were frequently there to participate in the discussion.
Sue became politically active after learning about Ron Paul in 2007. She loved the message of peace, prosperity and liberty and so she started the Bothell Meet-up for Ron Paul, held monthly meetings at her home, knocked on doors and became a real leader, all in her quiet way. She was elected Republican Precinct Committee Officer in 2008 and 2010 and served as Credentials Chair for her district. She was an Alternate Delegate at the State convention in 2008 and a Delegate in 2010. She met wonderful people of all ages, from all walks of life and made many new friends. In 2012, with other needs to take care of, she passed the baton to me and was an avid cheerleader. She was my inspiration and role model.
Sue loved the outdoors. As a young adult she joined the mountaineers, enjoying skiing, hiking and mountain climbing. She loved to sail. One summer during the college years she went to summer school at the University of Washington. That allowed her to join the UW Yacht Club and use their sailboats on Union Bay and Lake Washington. Another summer she was a sailing counselor at Camp Sealth on Vashon Island and another time at a Camp Fire Girls Camp in Rhode Island.
Sue was introduced to Scandinavian folk dancing by our brother Don and really enjoyed that activity for a number of years: at Iowa State, at Scandia Folk Dance Club, during her trip to Europe and right here at the Maltby Community Club.
Sue’s favorite place was “The Beach.” Our parents bought the property at Pilot Point, south of Point No Point, in 1949 and built a tiny cabin on it with three bunk beds for the six of us. The sand bar was a special delight and Sue was always checking the tide tables for weekends with mid-day minus tides. She loved to share the beach – especially with families with small children.
Sue was a life-long, devoted student of Christian Science, an active member of the Christian Science Organization at Iowa State and of the Christian Science churches wherever she lived. Her love of God and the Christ and her striving for a greater understanding of her spiritual selfhood and her relationship to God and her fellow-man were an inspiration to others. She was a sincere seeker for truth in every aspect of her life.
Sue’s multitude of activities were grounded in her spirituality, whether working with a Cooperative Preschool or Alternative School Coop Program as she raised her sons, being an avid vegetable gardener, volunteering her time in caring for people, especially the elderly, working wherever she could for truth and justice.
Everyone here today is part of Sue’s family. There are actually several different families.
There is the family of relatives, of a lifetime.
There is her church family of 25 years.
There is her business family, which also goes back 25 years for some.
And there is her liberty family, going back the last six years.
Some of you belong to more than one of her families. I was blessed to be part of all four. I love you all and so does Sue.
I know that she is going on with her life. The wonderful qualities we all love about Sue are the qualities she expresses as the child, the reflection, of God. Those qualities will always be with us because God is everywhere.
Michele St Pierre,
founder of Snohomish County Liberty Action and long time liberty activist, paid tribute to her friend, sometime employer, sister in liberty.
Unlike some of you here, who had the privilege of knowing Sue for all or most of her life, I met Sue in 2008 during the first Ron Paul Presidential Campaign. From that time on, I saw that she was a tireless worker for liberty issues and candidates. She didn’t seek the limelight, but was always there when you needed a hand. She was soft-spoken, but filled with grit and determination and became a leader who touched many lives.
When I needed some work in 2009, Sue was kind enough to hire me to help paint their two large industrial buildings at the family business in Maltby. And for a couple of months I had a great time working with Sue, Julie and Brian. Don also dropped by regularly to check on our progress and give sage advice. They all made me feel like a part of their family and I looked forward to our philosophical discussions at lunch. Sometimes the lunches ran a bit long, or we stayed late after work talking. But then, although we worked hard, we couldn’t have work interfering too much with a good political discussion!
One night I needed to go to a meeting after work and I had brought a change of clothes, but had forgotten to bring shoes and could hardly wear my paint covered Reeboks. But Sue told me not to worry, she said that there was some of everything stored in the big Verax Buildings. Sure enough, she took me way back in the dark bowels of one building and started pulling out boxes of clothes and shoes and managed to find me a pair that fit. I still have those shoes and the memory of her smile and benevolence. That was Sue, feeding the hungry and shoeing the shoeless!
When all the painting was done, I was really sorry, because I enjoyed our time together so much. But we did meet many times throughout the next few years and I always felt so blessed just to know her. She was such a good and kind and genuinely caring person, with many keen interests, such as gardening, religion, community service, politics and life in general.
Sue was motivated in life to genuinely help her fellow man and I believe she involved herself in politics for that same reason. While Sue did not live to see peace on earth in her lifetime, she did all that she could to earn future generations that legacy. And for that, I thank her, and am so grateful for her life and work.
I wanted to find a poem that fit Sue, but couldn’t, so I wrote one, myself.
Dear God please welcome our beloved Sue
She filled us with love, her faith was so true
She fought for justice and freedom and right
We’ll miss her sweet smile, so tender and bright
For now she walks amongst all of God’s flowers
Her spirit at rest, while her legacy towers
To inspire us all to keep her flame burning
On this our green earth, where for freedom we’re yearning
Farewell my dear friend, and a heroine’s goodnight
Rest peacefully now, you’ve had a long fight
We’ll always remember your work and your laughter
And we’ll visit you soon in the distant hereafter
Reagan Wing President, spoke of Sue’s solid foundation – her faith in Jesus.
Sue Copeland and I never had a religious conversation.
It wasn’t necessary.
In fact, it would probably have been a counterproductive exercise, taking us down pathways of divergent intellectual decision-making. Whatever doctrinal inconsistencies we would have discovered were entirely irrelevant.
Sue Copeland knew Jesus. It was obvious.
Forty years ago I used to carry this book as a tool used in my daily work
And it tells me
Jesus said This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Sue Copeland’s selfless love and spirit of service and her peace and quiet integrity were as obvious as the fruit on a tree.
The good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.
And she shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth her fruit in her season; her leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever she doeth shall prosper.
Sue Copeland’s fruit is everywhere.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Sue Copeland was a child of God.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, …which built a house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
It is appropriate that we meet here, for Sue, between remembering Christ’s crucifixion and celebrating his Resurrection. For those of us who also know and will know Jesus, there can be no question we will see Sue again.
Forty years ago many of us began to speak of God’s intention to lead the sons of Liberty into a land beyond our petty intellectual differences… those of us who would, like Sue, follow Jesus. That was forty years. It is time for us to enter the promised land. Let us lift high the earthly remnants of Sue Finrow Copeland and carry them there with us – her love, her devotion, her selfless service.