March 17, 2013 in Obituaries

Obituary: Copsey, Harvey Gayle

 


(Full-size photo)(All photos)

COPSEY, Harvey Gayle Dr. Harvey Gayle Copsey, known to most as Gayle, died peacefully at home March 8, 2013 with family at his side. He was a long time resident of Spokane and one of the original physicians at the Rockwood Clinic. Gayle was born in 1917 on a farm in Custer County, Nebraska to Harvey J Copsey and Ruth Davis Copsey. His formative years on the farm in the 1920’s and 30’s shaped his character and his strong work ethic. He loved to tell of adventures on the farm with his two younger brothers Bob and Harry. He had numerous tales about rural life in that era. The beloved draft horses, pigs, cows, riding his horse to the country school, hunting with his dog Bonzo - these all were topics of stories with which he entertained his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren as well as many friends. Although Gayle loved his years on the farm, he did not want to make it his life. He decided at a young age he wanted to become a doctor. When he graduated from high school in 1933, there was no money for college. Through a great deal of hard work and ingenuity he managed to scrape together money for a small regional college. From there he entered the University of Nebraska medical school where he literally worked his way through school. He became a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity and a lifelong Cornhusker football fan. While in medical school, Gayle met the love of his life, Patricia Hamer. They were married in 1941, and soon moved to Rochester, Minnesota where Gayle began his residency in internal medicine and medical neurology at the Mayo Clinic. After completion of his training at Mayos and the birth of their first child, Gayle and Pat moved to Staten Island, NY where he served in the US Army Medical Corps treating wounded returning from the European theater during WWII. Following the end of the war and the birth of their son Steve in 1946, they moved west. After a brief stay in Missoula, Gayle and family came to Spokane where he joined the newly-formed Rockwood Clinic as the fifth doctor in the group. He was a founding member of the Spokane Society of Internal Medicine and a variety of other national and state professional organizations. He was also a supporter of many local and national charitable organizations. Gayle enjoyed life in the Northwest. He was an avid trap shooter, bird hunter and fisherman. He liked to putter in the garden planting flowers and vegetables. The family spent summers on Lake Coeur d’Alene where Gayle always had many outdoor projects. He felt one had to do something constructive every day and strived to accomplished some task daily up to his last months of his life. After the death of his dear Patricia in 1977, Gayle married Louise Kemp in 1979. They enjoyed their years together and their numerous trips to Hawaii until her death in 1992. He later married LaVern Roten, a high school friend. She was a wonderful and loving companion until her death in 2007. He was also preceded in death by his son Steve in 1971. This remained the greatest tragedy of his life. Gayle was fairly active and independent until the last months of his life. He was blessed with many caring friends and neighbors. His family wishes to thank everyone for their love and support. Thanks also to his wonderful caregivers and Horizon Hospice. Gayle is survived by his daughter, Cristine Ponti (Jim), grandchildren Betsy Black (Nathan), Steve Marean, and Annie Ponti, and great grandchildren Max and London Black. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations may be made to The OHSU Foundation in Support of Retinoblastoma Research at Casey Eye Institute, 3375 SW Terwilliger Blvd. Portland, OR 97045. A memorial celebration will be scheduled at a later date.


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email