NEW MADRID - Rep. Fred E. "Gene" Copeland, 74, died Feb. 19, 2007, at his home in Jefferson City.
Born June 12, 1932, in Cooter, son of the late Fred M. and Bessie Oakley Copeland, he was a 1950 graduate of Kewanee High School and attended Arkansas State University. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1952 until 1956. Representative Copeland served in the Missouri House of Representatives from 1960 until 1999, representing Mississippi County and parts of Scott and New Madrid counties in the 161st District.
While in the Missouri Legislature, he was a member of the Tourism Commission, Federal Fund and Block Grants Oversight Committee, Missouri State Public Deferred Compensation Commission and Council of State Governments, Southern Legislative Conference Executive Committee.
As chairman of the House Banks and Financial Institutions Committee, Rep. Copeland passed measures placing limitations of charges to banks, established electronic transfer and walk-up or drive-in night depositories at financial institutions, permitted banks to put facilities in small towns and implemented numerous other improvements in the operation of Missouri banks and savings and loans.
His efforts to improve the quality of life in his district included passing legislation which brought Noranda and Associated Electric into New Madrid, authorizing New Madrid as an enterprise zone to attract business and industry and allowed a special board election to be held in Portageville.
He sponsored laws to fund the creation of crime labs, improved benefits for sheriffs and deputies and increased the terms of city marshals in certain counties.
In the area of consumer rights and protection, he was responsible for initiatives outlawing wiretapping, protecting the privacy of individuals who own or hold public utilities and allowed individuals to give permission for organ donation on the back of their driver's licenses.
For the rural sector of the state, he passed laws establishing low-interest farm and small business loans and seasonal license plates for farmers. He also sponsored legislation which gave cities the power to acquire utilities and introduced legislation responsible for creating the Southeast Regional Water District.
In the 1970s, Rep. Copeland introduced and passed a law that enhanced retirement benefits for state employees who were enrolled in the Deferred Compensation Program.
In addition to this legislative duties, he owned Copeland Farms and was active in real estate. He was a member of the Southern Baptist Church and numerous other civic organizations.
On Oct. 5, 1980, in St. Louis, he married Ginna Lee Hequembourg who survives of the home.
Other survivors include: three sons and daughters-in-law, Fred W. and Sherry Copeland of New Madrid, Doug and Alana Whitehead of Jefferson City and Jason and Dawn Whitehead of Charlotte, N.C.; two daughters and a son-in-
law, Lisa and Gus Saettele of St. Louis and Leslie Ann Copeland of St. Louis; 11 grandchildren, Gabrielle Copeland, Gretchen Copeland, Morgan Copeland, Angela Saettele, Jamie Saettele, Breah Saettele, Lindsay Saettele, Kelsey Saettele, Megan Whitehead, Ross Whitehead and Claire Whitehead; and one great-granddaughter, Berkley Moreland.
Visitation is from 3 to 4 p.m. Wednesday at Freeman Chapel Mortuary in St. Louis. At that time a memorial service will be conducted with the Rev. Dr. Stephen Buchholz officiating.
Visitation will also be held from 10 a.m. until time of a memorial service at 11 a.m. Friday at Richards Funeral Home in New Madrid.
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may be made to:
Jefferson City Public
P.O. Box 2152
Jefferson City, MO 65102
c/o New Madrid County R-I
Attn: Robin Kimball
310 US Highway 61
New Madrid, MO 63869
American Diabetes Association
P.O. Box 7023
Merrifield, VA 22116-7023