Phyllis Marie Frye Copeland died peacefully on Sept. 28, 2016. She was a resident of Abernathy Laurels retirement community in Newton, North Carolina for the last five years and continued to live an active, energetic lifestyle with many new friends until her passing. She was a great mother, a lady, and a unique individual, who taught us continually.
Phyllis was born in Wythe County, Virginia to the Rev. Sidney O. Frye and Gladys R. Frye. Rev. Frye was a Methodist minister in the Holston Conference in Southwest Virginia and was called to service in many communities. The family travels and religious commitment gave Phyllis and her sisters, Helen and Jane, wonderful life lessons as they came to understand the value of service and the importance of humanity .
Education was always a priority for Phyllis and she dedicated her life to teaching and academia. She entered Emory and Henry College at the age of 16 and graduated with a bachelor of arts in Latin and English. She was a member of the debate team and Alpha Beta Chi sorority. Her education was interrupted by the onset of World War II when she joined the American Red Cross and was a social worker at Ashford General Hospital. Located at the Greenbriar Resort, she had the opportunity to meet Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. After the war, she attended Auburn University on fellowship, and received her masters degree in English in 1949.
While attending Auburn, she met her husband Carson Nathan Copeland, who was studying veterinary medicine. Carson served in the Army Air Corp in World War II, achieving the rank of captain. They were married in Harriman, Tennessee on March 20, 1947. They lived in Shreveport, Louisiana before moving to Hickory, North Carolina in 1951.
While living in Hickory, Phyllis joined the English Department at Lenoir Rhyne College where she taught until 1974. She shared her passion for teaching with courses in English and American literature, grammar, and the history of the English language. She continued to work on her doctorate with studies domestically and abroad. This included two tours in Stratford-on-Avon, England studying Shakespeare. She enjoyed many professional activities such as DAR and Delta Kappa Gamma, which she continued throughout her life.
Phyllis continued her strong religious convictions while attending the First United Methodist Church in Hickory. She assisted in organizing the Mary Martha Class, the start of the church library, leading Brownie Scouts, and conducted a youth mission trip to Costa Rica.
In 1974, she and Carson moved to the Magnolia Bluffs neighborhood in Eastpoint, where they enjoyed fishing and other outdoor activities. The years the couple spent in Florida were among their happiest times, with wonderful experiences with great friends and family visits. Through the years she remained active while playing tennis, golf, taking aerobics.
In 1978, after her husband died, Phyllis moved to Bristol, Virginia to assist her aging parents. She spent 33 years in in the comfort of her family, especially, her loving sister Helen. She taught at Bristol College teaching art, drama, and English. She was able to travel widely to Hawaii, Alaska, England, Italy, Greece, and Israel. She moved to Abernathy Laurels in 2011 where she remained until her death.
She is survived by her son Carson O. Copeland and daughter- in- law Janet Kuck of Granite Falls, North Carolina, daughter Debra Sizemore and son- in-law Patrick of Clemmons, North Carolina. She has three grandchildren, Kelly Robbins and her husband Jarrett, Nathan Copeland, and Kent Copeland all of Charlotte, North Carolina. She has two great grandchildren Davis and Harper Robbins, also of Charlotte.
In addition, she is survived by her sister Helen Harkleroad of Bristol, Tennessee and nephews Lee Harkleroad and family of Chicago, Tim Harkleroad of Bristol, Tennessee, and Michael McCulloch and family of Dallas, Texas, Mark McCulloch of Dallas, Texas, and Rick Binder and family of Monticello.
There will be a service at the First United Methodist Church in Newton, North Carolina on Thursday afternoon, Oct. 6. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Abernathy Laurels Health Care Center and Building Fund.
Bass-Smith Funeral Home is serving the family.