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James Patrick Copell

March 28th, 1946 - June 1st, 2024

James Patrick Copell, known as “Joe” by his family, was born March 28, 1946 to Alfred Michael Copell Sr and Carolyn Adena Newcomb. Family lore said he was born on the road somewhere in Idaho on the way to Portland, OR. At a young age, James and 2 of his 3 brothers were abandoned by their mother. The 3 boys enter into the foster care system in the Portland OR area. It was shortly after that the 4 boys learned that their last name was actually Copell and not Jones, the name of their step-father and their half-brothers, Gene and Jerry. James spent the rest of his childhood in the foster care system in the Portland, OR area. James graduated from Marshall High School (Portland, OR) in 1964, where he participated in the Track & Field Programs, excelling in throwing the javelin.   Directly after graduating high school, James enlisted in the US Marine Corp with his older brother George “Bill” Merrill Copell, both expecting to be sent to Vietnam. Upon finishing his MOS, it was discovered that George was now stationed in Okinawa, Japan and his younger brother, Carl Richard Copell was already in Vietnam The military decided to kept him stateside. James oldest brother, Alfred Michael “Mike” Copell Jr was in out of the boys lives and wasn’t a good role model. After receiving an honorable discharge from the Marine Corp and having been born on the road, James became a bit of a nomad, traveling up and down the west coast between Southern California and Northern Oregon as well as across the country. James tried many different occupations, including mechanic, travel agent, concrete mason, lumber mill, and construction. 


Eventually, health & addiction issues took him to the Portland VA Hospital, then to the Walla Walla VA Hospital and finally to the Boise VA Hospital. Here in Boise, he was able to find the community, through the Good Samaritan Home (State St) and the Boise VA, he needed to recover. He had always been a talented artist. He started drawing popular cartoon characters at age 5 or 6 and wanted to become an animator for Disney. In 8th grade, he won a city wide art contest, beating out high school students across Portland. He loved nature and loved painting or drawing it. Much of his early adult artwork were custom pieces. At the Boise VA Hospital, James rediscovered his love and talent for art and having a place to create it was extremely important to James, his health and sobriety. James’ love of art lead him to discover new forms. He excelled in the ceramic arts, taking the highest honor given to an amateur artist, The Freddy, his first year. James continued entering his ceramics into shows and the fair, taking Best of Veterans several years in a row. Others ceramic awards included Superintendents Award, Best of Divisions and Judge’s Choice. His favorite award, by far, though was receiving the People’s Choice award. He also continued to draw and paint, even doing special artwork for people who cared for him. He loved giving copies of his drawing to the employees of the Boise VA, St Luke’s MSTI, and his friends. James had a love for the outdoors. He loved to go to Veterans Memorial Park daily. He would walk (when possible) or use his motorized chair to stroll the park and greenbelt. He loved to fish the Boise River and draw the trees and wildlife. He enjoyed coming home to his fish, Oscar. Once home, Oscar (who was an Oscar) would watch James’ ever movement around the room. They seemed to have their own way of communicating with each other. 


In 2017, James was hit by a car in a hit and run situation. He spent several weeks in St Alphonsus Hospital and the Good Samaritan Village recovering from broken ribs, dislocated shoulder and a punctured lung. Until this point James was extremely independent and strong but this seemed to be the start of a downturn in his health. From then until his passing Saturday, June 1, 2024, at the age of 78. James fought COPD, throat cancer, lung cancer (x3), both shoulders replaced, broken elbow (x2), several falls, mouth cancer, tongue cancer, skin cancer, heart and artery issues before another bout of throat cancer took him. During these years, James was able to reconnect with his daughter, Teresa Copell, his bother Carl (now Carlito Cobretti), his nieces Jodi Copell Gray and Maria Deason. He enjoyed participating in a Veterans Art Group that started at the Boise VA and eventually moved to the Boise Vet Center where he had many friends. James spent the last 15 years living at the Good Samaritan Home where he was loved and respected by all. He loved the Good Sam Home and would do anything he could to support and promoted their needs. James had several close friends through Good Sam and the VA. He was especially close to David Seekford, Bill Zimmerman, Kevin and Julie Davis, Willie English, Steven “Red” Kennedy, Harry Bates and Jimi Holcroft.   After the hit and run, James needed more help than he cared to admit, and his friend and ceramic teacher, Shaun McClurg (as well as her family and her mom, Judy Cross) stepped in to help. James would tell doctors, nurses, and staff alike that Shaun was his memory, best friend and his ”other” daughter.  Over the course of the last 10+ years, Horizon Home Health was also there to help him with his medications, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and home care. Their services were a God Send. 


James is preceded in death by his parents, his brother “Mike”, his brother “Bill”,  his fish Oscar and dear friend and fellow Marine, Reina Vallejo. He is survived by his close friends: Shaun, David his wife Praxi, Bill, Kevin, Julie, Willie, Red, Judy, Jimi, Harry, his daughter Teresa and husband Harry, his granddaughter Erin, brother Carlito and wife Dona, niece Maria, niece Jodi & her husband Christopher, many nieces and nephews and many other friends at the Good Samaritan Home, the Boise Vet Center and Boise VA Hospital. 


Special Thanks to the Doctors, Nurses, CNAs, and Staff of the Boise VA especially CLC Hospice, CLC Rehab, Oncology, ENT, ICU, Step Down, 2 S/M and Silver team. Your care, love,  patience and understanding were incredible. Thanks to Horizon Home Health and Hospice for being there all these years. The love and care you showed James, even when he was grumpy and tired were a tremendous help. Thanks to the staff and community at the Good Samaritan Home. Giving him a place to live all those years ago when he had nothing; gave him hope, restored his faith, and gave him friendships he didn’t think he deserved and lasted the rest of his life. Thanks to Shaun and Judy. James often said to others that he would not have lived much passed the hit and run if it hadn’t been for you and he did not know what he did in his life to finally find such unconditional love he didn’t think he deserve.  


Services will be held at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery on Tuesday, 25 June 2024 at 3:00PM.  Celebration and BBQ to directly follow at Veterans Memorial Park Pavilion shelter, 930 Veterans Memorial Parkway, Boise, ID 83703. 


Donations can be made in his name to the Good Samaritan Home, the Veterans Art Group at the Boise Vet Center in care of Shaun McClurg, or to your favorite Veteran Organization. 

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