C. Henry

September 26, 1941 - March 6, 2023

C. Henry Copeland, 81, Florence, died peacefully early Monday morning at home among family. The family will receive friends on Thursday, February 9, from 11:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. at Williams Funeral Home. The funeral service will follow at noon in the funeral home chapel, with Jonathan Copeland officiating.  Burial will be at Oak Hill Cemetery, in Jasper, Alabama.

Mr. Copeland was preceded in death by his parents, Charles and Irene Copeland, and a brother, Harry Copeland.

Survivors include his loving wife, Patsy Copeland; children, Jonathan Copeland (Ashley Long) and Mollie Copeland (Alex Wervey); brother, David Copeland (Helen); and sister, Ann Grantham (Terry).

Henry was born Sept. 26, 1941 in Walker County, Ala., to Charles and Irene Copeland. He became an Eagle Scout at age 13. In high school, he was as precocious in math as he was feared on the football field. After graduating Martin High School, Henry attended the University of Alabama, where he majored in mathematics, chemistry, and physics.

As a graduate student, Henry applied his brilliant mind to computer science, becoming the first instructor of the Computer Based Honors Program (now Randall Research Scholars). Over 50 years later, the program he helped start continues to train Alabama’s brightest students in research and technology.

In 1967, as a Fulbright Scholar, Henry worked with astrophysicists at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark using computers to study stars. Scientific contributions continued throughout his life. In his 30+ years as a research scientist for TVA, he became known for his innovative experimental designs and his knowledge in chemistry, physics, and computer programming.

During the 1960s, Henry began practicing martial arts: aikido, jyodo and judo. His skill grew over the decades and, by the 1990s, he was among aikido’s elite practitioners. He attained the rank of Aikido 9th Dan and Judo 8th Dan. For nearly forty years, Henry taught in Florence, mostly from the dojo he built in his family’s garage. Later in life, he was a highly respected teacher at the national level in aikido.

A lifelong follower of Christ, Henry attended Redeemer Church of the Shoals.  Henry adored his wife, Patsy, and his two children, Mollie and Jon. He loved them as much as the human heart possibly can.

The family wishes memorial contributions be made to the Henry Copeland Endowed Scholarship at the University of Alabama. Visit give.ua.edu and search “Henry Copeland” under Choose Fund.


March 9, 2023
11:00 am - 12:00 am


Williams Funeral Home, Helton Drive, Florence, AL, USA

March 9, 2023 11:00 am

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March 9, 2023
12:00 pm


Williams Funeral Home, Helton Drive, Florence, AL, USA

March 9, 2023 12:00 pm

Get Directions


March 9, 2023
3:00 pm


Oak Hill Cemetery, Oak Hill Road, Jasper, AL, USA

March 9, 2023 3:00 pm

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9 Comments on “C. Henry Copeland”

  1. Henry was my husband’s teacher, mentor and friend when he was in the Computer Honors Program at UA from 1971-1975. He came to our wedding. He was a brilliant teacher and an even better man. We were so glad to see him at the CHP 50th anniversary. Prayers for his family.

    Tom & Nita Wright

  2. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Copeland family and friends.

    May the memories shared help you cope through this difficult time.

    Benyu Yang of Birmingham, Alabama

  3. My thoughts and prayers are with the Copeland family and friends.

    May the memories shared help you cope through this difficult time.

    Benyu Yang of Birmingham

  4. I worked with Henry for years in the 1980’s and 1990’s at the Western Area Radiological Laboratory(WARL) on the TVA reservation
    in Muscle Shoals, Al. Henry was gifted with brains and brawn. He was the most intelligent person I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing.
    He was well known throughout our facility for his knowledge of electronic circuitry and his ability to fabricate from scratch circuit boards
    to control machinery and perform other important tasks. He designed me an interface board that allowed to convert from using an old
    TTY33 character printer to a digital dot-matrix printer on an older piece of equipment. He was great at troubleshooting all kinds of
    computer-based counting systems in our laboratory. If I had a headache, Henry would know just where to press on my neck to relieve
    the pain. He was better than any chiropractor I’ve known. We worked closely on several projects. He was patient and helpful to me
    in understanding the inner workings of computer programs, circuitry, nuclear decay, and all types of electronic equipment. I got to know
    Patsy and the kids through lab picnics and Christmas gatherings and I was highly impressed with all his family. Henry was a gifted coworker
    and a close friend and I have missed seeing him regularly since my retirement. Henry was a great Christian man, husband, father and friend
    and he left a mark on this life with his brilliance, his influence on the family, his faith in Christ, and his positive influence on anyone fortunate
    enough to spend some time with him. I loved him and his family and I will miss him in this life. But thanks be to God, Henry and all of us who
    put their faith in Christ will leave this life for a life of blessings with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! And that comforts us and gives us hope!
    God bless Patsy, Jonathan, Mollie and all of Henry’s family. I love you all. Charles Frederick

  5. I remember Henry as a computer genius at the University of Alabama in the late 1960s. Y’all have my sympathy.

  6. I am so sorry for your loss. Am not in town so unable to attend the funeral. God bless and comfort you all.

  7. Cousin Henry taught at the University of Montevallo for a very short time when he was in his 20’s. While he was there, my parents, brothers, and I went to visit him. I was probably about 17 at the time and was considering attending Montevallo. I was immediately captivated by the beauty of the college but looking forward to seeing my cousin. We met Henry at his apartment. My brothers and I looked up to him in statue as well as a very kind and fun loving older cousin. I remember him picking me up and riding me around on his back. My brothers and I laughed and cut up with Henry until Mama and Daddy were ready to go home. I was very disappointed when he left Montevallo about the time I was going there for my first year of college, but the memory of that visit lingers with me to this day. Henry will be greatly missed by family and friends.

  8. Patsy, Mollie, and Jonathan,
    I deeply regret being unable to attend the service for Henry. After reading the beautiful obituary, I wished I had spent more time with Henry when you lived in the neighborhood. I will pray for peace and comfort in the days ahead.
    Euna Hudson

  9. I got to know Big Henry through aikido and judo clinics in Houston and Oklahoma City in the early 2000’s. He is one of the most brilliant, kind, gentle, and caring spirits I have ever met. Sending my sincerest condolences to his family in this time of loss. I can tell you that I feel like I’m a better person having known Henry.

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