Ralph William Copeland, 81, of North Port, Florida, passed away on January 12, 2020. He was born to parents Veleda Copeland and Ralph Franklin Copeland, on December 11, 1938 in Piqua, Ohio.
Ralph joined the U.S. Navy after high school. After attending the U.S. Naval Photographic School he was assigned to the Guantanamo Bay Naval Air Base. Ralph flew many aerial mapping missions, managed a portrait studio, and was assigned many public relations duties. This gave him the opportunity to photograph Dwight Eisenhower, members of the Kennedy family, Jane Russell, the Radio City Music Hall Rocketts and aerial segments of the Cuban revolution.
While stationed at Quonset Point, R.I. in 1958, Ralph met Ardis while on leave with a friend in Maine. Ralph and Ardis were married in 1961 in Strong, Maine shortly after Ralph completed his military service. They made their first home near Dayton, Ohio. Ralph and Ardis had a son, Eric and a daughter, Shonda. Ralph and partner Leonard Griffin established a full-service professional photographic lab, Griffin Copeland Color Lab. In 1972 Ralph sold his shares in the photo lab and moved the family to Strong, Maine where he and Ardis first met.
After relocating to Maine, he accepted a position with Forster Manufacturing Company. He was involved in product design, packaging and promotional materials, including photos and graphics. After seven years with Foster Manufacturing, he established “PhotoDesign & Graphics”. He had a diverse clientele from toy manufacturers to companies requiring product photography. He worked with many free-lancers who shared their talents on various projects, and he contributed to theirs. He and another local Maine artist, painted faux finishes, trompe-l’oeil, and murals in prestigious Maine coastal homes and shops. They created photo covers for numerous food publications and cook books. He collaborated with other local artists and photographers, contributing to many successful graphic pieces. Ralph and Ardis created and published two pictorial books for their home town of Strong. One was a history of the town of Strong and the second was a fund raising project for the towns Bi-centennial. He created logos for several local clubs as well as brochures for a local church.
Ralph always said “If you love what you do, you never have to work”.
Almost 12 years ago Ralph & Ardis made North Port Florida their home. Even though "retired", Ralph, with co-authors designed and published a biography for a prominent Hollywood Jeweler. He photographed properties for real estate agents and continued to free-lance on other projects. He joined Venice and North Port art centers where he enjoyed displaying and contributing to the local arts.
From childhood to retirement and beyond, Ralph enjoyed boating, music, arts, and photography. He was an accomplished photographer and artist. He was an avid sailor seeking the next adventure. He enjoyed hiking, skiing, white water rafting, and camping in younger years. He enjoyed beach combing, drum circles, and kayaking in his golden years. Friends, family, food, and a lots of pets (he always brought home strays) were some of his favorite things. Ralph always liked a good joke, good music, and good Scotch.
Ralph will always be in the hearts of his wife Ardis, son Eric his wife Doreen, daughter Shonda, four grandchildren, Megan, Jennifer, Sarah, and, Michelle, and two great grandchildren, Aiden and Aria; also by his brother Jack Copeland, wife Pam and children Cindy, Rob, Rick, Randy, Angela and niece Connie Sue; also by brother in-law Tony Parcher and children David, Patrick, and Jody; also brother in-law Herbert Neil and children Randy, Sandra, Nancy, and Suzanne. Ralph was predeceased by his two sisters Janet and Barbara.
The family wishes to extend their thanks and gratitude to the staff at Pinebrook Center, and to the staff and volunteers of Tidewell Hospice for their care and on going support.
A Celebration of Life is scheduled for Saturday, January 25, 2020 at 2:00 PM at the home of Ralph and Ardis in North Port, Florida. A celebration will also be held in Strong, Maine this coming Spring/Summer at a date and location to be determined.
A Photography/Graphic Arts scholarship has been established for students of Mount Abram High School. The family asks that those who desire, consider memorial gifts in his memory payable to: Mt. Abram High School. Mailed to: School Counseling Office, Mt. Abram High School, 1513 Salem Road, Salem Township, ME 04983 and include the memo "Ralph Copeland Memorial Scholarship".