Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Obituary Archives

December 29, 2013

Helen Copenhaver Hanes

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A long and beautiful journey is over. Helen Copenhaver Hanes, known to her many friends and family as Copey, has become reunited with her life’s companion, James Gordon Hanes Jr.

Her life began on October 2nd, 1917 and ended on December 28th, 2013. She was born in Marion, Virginia to Margaret Greever Copenhaver and the Rev. Eldridge Hawkins Copenhaver, and was preceded in death by her parents, her sister Margaret Sue Copenhaver, and her beloved husband Gordon Hanes.

She graduated from Marion College and Whittenberg University. She studied voice and drama at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and subsequently taught those subjects at Salem Academy and College. She married Gordon Hanes on August 30, 1941 and lived for a short time during WWII in Wheeling, West Virginia. Following the end of WWII she and Gordon returned to Winston-Salem where she has lived for the past seventy years. Her entire adult life was dedicated to making her city, her state and her nation a better and more beautiful place. Raised a devout Lutheran, Copey joined the Methodist Church on moving to Winston-Salem and was a devoted member of Centenary United Methodist for the rest of her life.

She has always insisted that her obituary be short and sweet, but a life so well lived begs to be honored. She served on the board of directors of numerous institutions both in Winston-Salem and the state of North Carolina. A few examples being the Southeastern Center of Contemporary Art, Salem College, Moravian Music foundation, Old Salem, the Winston-Salem Symphony, the board of visitors of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, the Downtown Arts School, and Brevard Music Festival. She received awards and recognition from many of these institutions as well as being inducted into the North Carolina Women’s Hall of Fame. For many years, Copey carried in her purse, a copy of The Marion Ideal, the statement of purpose of Marion College, of which her father, Rev. Eldridge Copenhaver was president.

The Marion Ideal stated:

“To care for what is, rather than for what seems; to be loyal to what is best in the traditions of the past and yet open to the discoveries of the present and the hopes of the future; to find freedom in knowledge of the truth, beauty in the common sphere of daily living; joy in love and friendship, and strength in constructive service; to play happily and work honestly; to believe in God and God’s children; and to serve where service is most needed…this is the ideal of Marion College.”

Anyone who knew her would say that Copey tried every day of her life to live up to this ideal.

She is survived by her children, sons, James Gordon Hanes 111 and his wife Jane Lawrence Hanes; Eldridge C. Hanes and his wife Jane Grenley Hanes; and daughter, Drewry Hanes Nostitz and her husband Christoph Nostitz; six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A family graveside service will be held in Salem Cemetery at 10:00 AM on Tuesday, December 31st followed by a memorial service at Centenary United Methodist Church at 11:00 AM. The family will receive close friends and family at the home of Redge and Jane Hanes 4:00 until 6:00 pm on Monday, December 30th, and also at the church following the Memorial Service.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: Salem College scholarship fund; the Winston-Salem Symphony; Moravian Music Foundation; The University of North Carolina School of the Arts scholarship fund; and Crisis Control Ministry.

Online condolences may be sent to

Salem Funeral Home of Winston-Salem is in charge of arrangements.

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