The Duncan Banner

Features

December 22, 2012

Retired Navy mechanic shares glow of season

DUNCAN — By Megan Bristow

The Duncan Banner

“You can just never have too many lights,” Bobby Copeland said.

That is the spirit that Copeland, a Duncan native, has decorated his yard with each Christmas for almost every year since 1967. At the time he began his tradition, Copeland was living in Navy housing. When he decorated that first year, Copeland said he won the award for having the best decorated house on base — NAS Whidbey Island.

“We won the contest in 1967,” Copeland said. “That spurred me on.” He wond again at NAF Warminster.

With the exception of a few years, Copeland has decorated his yard every year since then. Copeland said his decorations usually go up shortly after Thanksgiving but he said he started before Thanksgiving this year because of a period of nice weather.

“I enjoy it very much,” he said. “It is the best part of the year.”

Copeland said he believes that if people could share the feeling that his lights give him, it could change the world we live in.

“If people and the nation could feel that way year round, it would be a great,” he said. “It would be a different place.”

His decorated, lit yard at 1103 W. Washington Ave., has becoming something enjoyed by his family and also by the community as he sees many people stop and gaze upon the Christmas scene.

“I feel a sense of pride that they stop and think it is worth looking at,” he said. “I think people appreciate people trying to make it look prettier and more Christmasy.”

Some of the decorations in his yard date back to his first Christmas that he decorated while others he has added to the collection or picked up at garage sales.

“I go to a lot of garage sales if I see they have Christmas stuff,” he said.

Although the yard is already a wondrous stop in the neighborhood, Copeland still feels like more could be done.

“It needs more color, more blue and more green,” he said. “That was something I was trying to get done this year but I just did not get around to it.”

Besides his decorating hobby, Copeland also enjoys woodworking. He has made several wood pieces that are also on display in his yard.

Copeland, who was born here in 1935, graduated from Duncan High School in 1953. In 1954, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy as an aircraft mechanic. After four years of service, he came back to Duncan to try and find a job in the civilian world, but jobs in Duncan were scarce because of a recession. Copeland again took up life in the Navy and stayed in until retirement. His daughter, Connie Copeland, is proud to share his time of service to the country — 21 years in the Navy, and another 20 years of civil service.

He retired and settled down in Washington until he decided to come back to Duncan in 1998.

“I got tired of the wind, rain and cold,” Copeland said. “I thought, ‘Well shoot, I will just go back home. I think the wind blows just as much here. It is just not as cold.”

After his return to Duncan, Copeland first worked at Walmart and then moved on to janitorial duties at the Simmons Center, where he worked for 11 years. He now just enjoys sharing his love of Christmas with his neighbors and the community he has always known as home.

“He is 77 and I pray he will have a lot of  Christmases, but you never know,” Connie shared with The Banner.

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