Paul Copenhaver

Paul Copenhaver

Paul Clark Copenhaver, 69, passed away Friday, Feb. 7, 2020, at home from glioblastoma.

A celebration of life will be at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020, in the St. Pius X School auditorium in Moberly, with a private burial earlier.

He was born Jan. 26, 1951, in Louisiana, Missouri, the only child of Courtney C. and Louise Copenhaver.

He graduated from Bowling Green High School in 1969, where he was active in band and track. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from Northeast Missouri State University in Kirksville in 1973 and a master’s degree in music education from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1980 and did additional graduate work at the University of Kansas in 1973. He started teaching instrumental music in the Moberly Public Schools, where he met his wife, Nancy, also a teacher. They were married June 7, 1975, at Trinity United Methodist Church in Moberly. He enjoyed sharing his gift of music and playing trumpet at Coates Street Presbyterian Church, where he was a member and elder, as well as at many other churches in the area.

During his 33 years with Moberly Public Schools, Mr. Copenhaver (P.C. to many) taught beginning students in sixth grade, junior high bands, jazz band and marching and concert bands, first as assistant with Bob Smith and later as director of bands. Concert bands consistently received top ratings at music festivals, as did solos, ensembles and the jazz ensemble. In 2004, Paul “retired” from full-time teaching at MPS, continuing to teach part time while reviving the band program at St. Pius X School at the same time. He fully retired from MPS in 2006 and continued teaching St. Pius X sixth- through eighth-grade instrumental students until 2019.

After a number of years playing and serving as assistant conductor, he was named director of the Columbia Community Band in 2017, a position he held until the symptoms of his illness became too severe. He served as associate band director for the University of Missouri-Columbia University Band from 1992 to 1996, brass instructor at Central Methodist University from 1999 to 2001 and as an instructor at several summer music camps. He also served as a conductor for many all-conference and all-district bands at various state and regional events. He was active as a band adjudicator in Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, Iowa, Indiana and Ohio for both marching contests and concert bands.

Mr. Copenhaver served as chair of the Missouri All-State Band and as president of the Missouri Bandmasters Association. He was Northeast Missouri Music Educators Association band vice president from 1978 to 2003 and NEMMEA president from 2004 to 2006. He served as president of the Missouri Music Educators Association and as MMEA government relations chair. Mr. Copenhaver received the National Federation of High School Associations Outstanding Music Educator Award in 2005 and NFHS Section V (Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota) Outstanding Music Educator Award in 2006. He was elected to the Missouri Bandmasters Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Missouri Music Educators Association Hall of Fame in 2014. He was honored with the Moberly Public Schools Foundation Distinguished Educator Award in 2017. In January 2020, he was presented with the Irwin R. Keller Service Award from the Missouri State High School Activities Association.

Paul was a member of the National Association for Music Educators, the International Association of Jazz Educators, National Catholic Band Association, National Education Association and a charter member of the International Trumpet Guild. Paul played principal trumpet in the Harmonium Brass Quintet and was an original member of The Sauerkraut Serenaders. Recently he played in the Show-Me Brass Band, the Thespian Hall Conservatory Band and was guest artist for the 2014 International Clarinet Association “Clarinetfest” in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He and Steve Litwiller were featured clinicians at the Midwest Clinic International Band and Orchestra Conference in Chicago in 2018 and, along with accompanist Kelley Head, performed several recitals around the area.

Paul is survived by his wife, Nancy McElfresh Copenhaver; niece Chelsea Reed (Jim); great-nieces Cecelia and Lorelei of Pacific; and aunt Joann McFarland of Edina. Also surviving are cousins Nellie (Willard) Wamsley, George (Linda) Copenhaver, Beulah Copenhaver, Betty Jean Trower and Eddie (Pat) Trower.

Paul leaves behind a legacy of students, colleagues, fellow musicians and friends that he impacted throughout his lifetime. He was a fine musician, conductor and wonderful human being. He took particular joy in teaching music to young people and mentored any music educator who needed advice or assistance. Whether working as a studio teacher, conductor, music adjudicator or virtuoso trumpet player, he was always positive in his outlook on life and a dedicated advocate of music education. Although music was his life, he also enjoyed riding, polishing and showing his Harley-Davidson motorcycle in car shows, attending car races on hot summer nights, traveling as long as he could be the driver, reading and socializing with friends.

Memorials are suggested to the Columbia Community Band, St. Pius X (Moberly) Music Boosters or the Missouri Bandmasters Association Young Band Directors Grant.

Arrangements are under the direction of Cater Funeral Home, 1520 E. Rollins St., Moberly, MO 65270, 660-263-3360.

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