July 27, 2019




Elizabeth Siebold, president of the 2019 Copenhaver Family Reunion welcomed approximately 90 family and friends representing  __xx_______ states at Shelter 1, in Hungry Mother State Park.  Elizabeth then asked family members to introduce their families and guests and each member took time to note their lineage and sometimes along with an interesting and or funny story. Lelia Spears daughter of Ellen and Ben Spears was excited to share that her mother just finished writing another book, noting that the Copenhaver family has a long line of authors. Gene Copenhaver mentioned that he was returning to Marion after 55 years in the ministry, but noted that Steve Copenhaver was a student of his at Clemson University and he (Gene) refused to follow him because he knew all the genealogy of his family….. and Gene said he didn’t know those things that well which drew big laughter.  Michael Perdue introduced his new wife My Linh (who is expecting their son in October) and step-daughter Annah who just arrived from Vietnam a week ago.  There were many interesting and fun introductions as the families shared family connections.

In honor of those family members who had passed away since the last reunion or was just recently shared by another family member, President Siebold began sharing their names as James H. Prater who passed away in August of 2014 and his daughter Thea Marie in August of 2009.  Karen Henderlong, sister of Karla Henderlong passed away in October 2018; Anne Alexander Griffith Blackwell, sister of George Griffith and Ellen Spears passed away in November 2018; Deb Copenhaver (father of Jeff and step-father of Sherry, and “our cowboy”) passed away February of 2019; Virginia Jane Rich, daughter of Mildred Copenhaver Sienna, passed away in March 2019; Frederick V Perdue, father of Michael Perdue (son of Karen Copenhaver, step-son of Joe) passed away May 2 2019 and Karen Copenhaver’s aunt, Mavis Perdue passed away the same day;  William Curtis Carr, grandfather to Charlotte Carr (Sarah Copenhaver Carr’s daughter) passed away July 2019. 

Elizabeth then called for Gene Copenhaver to offer prayer for the reunion and blessing for the meal.  At the conclusion, he also mentioned that Karla Henderlong asks for special prayer for her mother who was just moved into hospice care.

Elizabeth stated that due to how the dates fall for next year’s reunion, a decision was needed on the date to hold the reunion.  The family voted to hold the reunion on July 25, 2020.

Anne Siebold, Treasurer, then presented the financial report and stated that everything is good and prior to the reunion we had $1,664 in the bank.   Last year was a great year that we came out ahead with $287. 

Katy Copenhaver Davidson, chairperson of the Frederick and Eve Copenhaver Memorial Library Committee reported that a fund was established to support the Robert Madison and Mildred Manton Copenhaver room within the Smyth County Library which houses the Southwest Virginia Heritage Library collections.   Due to dramatic shift in the leadership in the library, Katy requests that the room be called Copenhaver Memorial Library, or Robert Madison and Mildred Manton Copenhaver Room or simply refer to it as the Southwestern Virginia Heritage Library.  She commented that information had been received that the new library director has plans to dismantle the Southwestern Virginia Heritage Library and remove the Robert Madison and Mildred Manton Copenhaver room to the basement floor and create a teen room, with wifi hotspot in what is now the Southwestern Heritage Library room.  Other actions at the library included removing the Library Board members and appointing others who included a member of the county Board of Supervisors and the civic group of the library as a hostile takeover.  She mentioned that Joe and Karen Copenhaver went through all the documentation regarding the founding (expansion) and its ongoing support and the fund raising efforts to create the room and compiled it into a booklet.  They then took it to the Library Board meeting in December of 2018 and presented it to the new Board members for background information on the history of the Heritage Library (and how the Copenhaver family provided $35,000 in substantial funding for the room and furnishings, $14,000 more than requested). In February of 2019, Trigg Copenhaver, Joe and Karen Copenhaver and she (Katy Davidson) met with the Library Board which included the supervisor of Smyth County and just prior to that meeting, we met with the library director, Mr. Ron Farmer who had previously refused her calls, for a tour of the space downstairs which had evidence of leaks, no UV protection on the windows and could not guarantee current level of security, fire suppression and no direct line for oversight by any of the library staff who would be in place.  At this point, Mr. Farmer stated that if we wanted to expand the Heritage Library, we had to move to the lower level, however Mrs. Davidson mentioned that the family had offered overhead book shelving for precious items that did not need frequent access.  It was also noted that he wanted to add a scanner for documents, but when questioned if the items were going to be scanned/digitized, why did we need more space and he did not have a response.  During the Board meeting Katy spoke to the members about the concerns of the family and what was discussed earlier in the day.  Later in February, she wrote a letter to Mr. Farmer (which she read to the reunion members) that explained that the family appreciates their interest in preserving family history, however the water and humidity issues, security, lighting, etc., need to be addressed if the Heritage Library would be transitioned out of its current home.  She also addressed the concern of creating a teen room and the long-term efficacy for teens citing a report that the teens were not using the rooms for which they were intended, citing several articles written about the subject.

She then encouraged that family members speak to one of the trustees; Nancy Southworth Farrow, John Alden Copenhaver, Lelia Spears, Charlotte Dutton Warren, Joe Copenhaver (treasurer), Katy Copenhaver Davidson (chair), and Sarah Copenhaver Carr on the ad hoc committee and let them know your thoughts and desires as it affects the Southwest Virginia Heritage Library and its future.

Katy then mentioned newly acquired books including one about the great valley migration; the Kelly Book and Burke’s American Family.  She then stated that the full-size statue of Laura Lu Shearer Copenhaver (daughter of writer Sherwood Anderson and Eleanor Copenhaver) is now fully funded, and as authorized by the Virginia Monument Commission, will be placed on the Capitol Lawn in Richmond, VA.  She also stated that additional notable Virginia women names from southwest Virginia will be engraved on the wall surrounding the garden.

It was then time to recognized special family members with the annual engraved Jefferson Cups; the oldest is Joe Rill, 82, of Springfield, VA; the youngest was Olivia James Copenhaver, three months old and son of Natalie and Chad of Knoxville, TN; and the ones who traveled the farthest was My Linh Perdue and her daughter Annah Nyguen (wife and step-daughter of Michael Perdue) of Vietnam.

The 2019-2020 Reunion Officers were elected as follows:  Elizabeth Siebold, President; Stephen Copenhaver, Vice President; Anne Siebold, Treasurer; Karen Copenhaver, Secretary and Publicity; Michael Perdue, Webmaster for the website; Elizabeth Siebold, Social Media and Katy Copenhaver Davidson, Chair of the Southwest Virginia Heritage Library Committee.

After everyone enjoyed a delicious meal catered by Kentucky Fried Chicken, it was time for fun activities at the park and the Copenhaver Homestead Tour, visits to the Heritage Library and shops in the area as well as extended family visits.  

The family gathered one more time in the evening for a dutch-treat dinner that they brought, visits with family and roasting marshmallows and the making of those delicious smores.  As darkness fell, family said their goodbyes and offered final hugs until next year.

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