Friday, July 3, 2015

Govert Copier 1920-2015

Gov was my Mother's brother. He was a year and a half older than she was.  He and Jan, his older brother, let her play soccer with them, because she was as good as they were.  Gov was 95 and still in his right mind.  Mother died at 81, her mind bombed by Alzheimer's.  The world is not a fair place.

What I learned at his funeral yesterday:

1. He was born on March 1, just missing a leap year birthday.  My sister, Joyce, and my grandson, Maxwell, also have March 1 birthdays.

2. When he came to America, he thought he might go with his Dutch nickname, "Goofy," but some kind administrator told him that wouldn't work in English.

3. He met Tante Freddie in church in Amsterdam.  She was singing with a friend in a little room and he went in and joined them.  He loved singing.  Later, when he asked Freddie to marry him, she said, "I will, but I want twelve children."  He said that was okay.

4.  They had twelve children: seven boys and five girls.

5.  He attended all their games and activities.  This amazed me.  Tom and I usually left town when anything important was going on with our kids.

6. Freddie's wedding gown was made from a silk parachute dropped over Holland during World War II.

7. He saved a child from the Nazis by taking a child the same age, who had identity papers, with him in his truck.  The Nazis let him pass.  Then he came back and said he'd forgotten something.  The third time he did this, he exchanged children and the Nazis just waved him past.

8. He said that Dutch people were not hard-headed but were true to their convictions.

9. He was an excellent chess player and often won the chess puzzles that the Deseret News used to run.

10. In Salt Lake, he was known as the singing painter. (He painted and wallpapered interiors).  His stippling technique was excellent.  This is how he and Emma Lou Thayne, the poet, became friends.  She had him touch up her rooms every year.

11.  He took a six-week conducting course from Spencer Cornwall, who was then conductor of the Tab Choir.

12.  He always carried a baton with him, because "you never know when you might be called on to conduct music."

13. He played Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof in Community Theater as well as other roles. I remember him singing, "If I Were A Rich Man," at his 90th birthday party.

14.  He said if he ran for office, his slogan would be, "Wooden Shoe vote for me?"

15. He liked to fix things for other people.

16.  God, his family and the Mormon Church were his passions.  When he couldn't go to church anymore, the High Priests met at his house around his hospital bed.  He led the music.

17.  The only time he bought a new car, was when his old car broke down on the way to one of his children's weddings in California.  Evidently, the bishop sold cars and they brokered a deal in Sacrament Meeting.

18.  When asked what his advice to his progeny would be, he said, "Please tell them to be faithful to their spouses."

19.  When his sister, Trintje, died in Opoe's arms, she said, "Oh Mother, how beautiful! How light!"

20.  And I learned that Opoe (my grandmother) was the preferred midwife in Breukelen.  She was shunned for awhile after she joined the church, but they got over it and wanted her back. I didn't know this.

21. Also, Opoe took her name off the Dutch Reformed Church records, much to the embarrassment of her family, and then returned after a year when she had found nothing better.  I didn't know this either.

The Copier family was good, kind, maybe even guileless.  Having read a lot of sad memoirs, I appreciate their goodness more and more as I get older.


  1. What interesting memories were shared! That's the best part of any funeral service, IMO.

  2. Wow you take good notes. What a nice page this is. You are a great writer. It was great to see you at dad's funeral.