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Old 03-27-2008, 02:12 PM
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seemed like the only columnist I found to write an article on the MAN himself. I thought it was tastefully done from his perspective and glad you all agree. Personally, although having never had the pleasure to meet Al in person, I vividly recall seeing he and the Popeye's Team when they were here stopping over in Cape Coral. All the teams would tie up at the Yacht Club for the weekend and do the parade here on the Parkway as well. Mr. Copelands yacht seemed massive in comparrison to anything else at the marina. I recal my father pointing it out to me stating, "that thing belongs to the gentleman that owns Popeyes Chicken. He's a hell of a racer, too." Turned out to be one of those moments not forgotten.
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Old 03-27-2008, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by delleto View Post

Al was our Elvis
Copeland's over-the-top life was a perfect fit for his fun-loving hometown
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Chris Rose
There were many terms applied to the larger-than-life character named Al Copeland: Larger than life, for instance. Over the top. Flamboyant. Ostentatious. In your face. Outlandish. A dreamer. A doer. A hustler. And, perhaps more than anything else: one of a kind.

There is only one term that did not apply, that he did not understand, that he would not abide: Moderation.

Copeland's life was marked by a carnival of controversy, wild schemes, wild rides, bright lights, fast cars and faster women. A New Orleans life. An American life. A never-say-die kind of life.

Until, well . . . he died.

In Al Copeland style, refusing to go gently into the good night, he jetted off to Germany in recent weeks to find a cure for a rare form of cancer. Unlike most of the ambitious plans he hatched over the past several decades, this one didn't materialize. Thus, his epitaph will read that he only met two nemeses in this material world that he could not defeat: cancer and divorce lawyers.

There's that old quote about how most men live lives of quiet desperation. Not Al. He lived a life of very loud desperation. Desperate to be noticed. Desperate to go fast. Desperate to be rich. Desperate to be powerful. Desperate to make a difference. Desperate to be remembered.

By most measures, and certainly by his own yardstick, Copeland was an enormous success, a classic rags-to-riches story, a guy who simply wouldn't quit.

There's no question that Copeland's critics matched his admirers in mass and volume. But his failures were all born of the same confidence -- or was it hubris? And does it matter? -- that led to his many accomplishments and achievements.

It's impossible not to admire the guy, what he did, how he did it and who he made himself to be. That song "My Way"? Yeah, that was his song. Except he was no Sinatra. He was our Elvis.

And as for Graceland . . . well. I remember the first Christmas after Katrina. It was a tough season all over. Hard times in a dark city.

My kids and I were driving around town to see what Christmas lights we could find. Naturally, we ended up at Copeland's house. It was as it always was. A fairy tale. Over the top. The Great Escape.

There was a sign in front of the house that year. It was signed by Copeland and it had an inscription about how it was more important than ever before that he put on a show for the children of the community. It had words like "sacrifice" and "spirit" and "gratitude" and all the right notes.

I cried when I read it. I cried a lot back then.

I wrote the inscription down but have long since misplaced it. I wish I still had it. I remember reading it and thinking: God bless this guy. He didn't have to do this. It was an easy time to opt out. Many did. But he didn't. Because it mattered. Because it's what Al Copeland set out to do: to set his house, the city, the world, his life ablaze.

My kids dug this guy. And they didn't even know who he was, what his name was. And now they do.

I told my daughter on Monday about Copeland dying and she said to me what I imagine a lot of local kids are saying to their parents this week: "Will we get to go see his house anymore?"

I realized it was like telling a kid that Santa Claus was dead.

"That's all right, daddy," she said to me. She can always tell when I'm getting choked up. Then: "He was a great man."

I said, "He made people smile."

My daughter, she hugged me.

Funny, shedding a tear over Al Copeland. I reckon after the many times I wrote about his lustful foibles in this newspaper over the past two decades -- he was an easy target for a newspaper columnist, to be sure -- that he would find that more than ironic.

But I'm a big fan of over-the-top. A big fan of celebration. A big fan of lust for life. A big fan of Big Fun.

Copeland epitomized these things. He was one more guy who put his life on display for all to see, another example of talking too much, living too large and laughing too loud -- those New Orleans attributes that sometimes make folks elsewhere a little leery of this place.

He made a difference. He was impossible to miss. He will be equally impossible not to miss.

Merry Christmas, Al, wherever you are.

The Chicken King has left the building.
Vey well said and Al To the T R,I,P
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Old 03-27-2008, 03:54 PM
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I didn't know Al Copeland, but that article gave me goosebumps. Very nice tribute.
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Old 03-27-2008, 04:09 PM
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Chris Rose does a great job for the Times Picayune in New Orleans. The paper down here has been printing editorials everyday from peoples stories that they have been sending in . All the stories are great, and all define him as a very giving person.
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Old 03-27-2008, 04:41 PM
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never met him, but I was on the cajon princess about 2 years ago when they were doing the extension, that was some serious work he had going on.
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Old 03-27-2008, 04:43 PM
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I wonder if Al had any idea how many lives he had an effect on ... That article was awesome
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Old 03-27-2008, 04:55 PM
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HORBA has sent on to Hot Boat some photos for them to use with Brownies obit article.

I just got off the phone with Rocky Aoki and he was very saddened by the news of Al's passing. He can't make the trip himself but will send something.

The Church is ....Holy Name of Jesus.... 6367 Charles Ave. New Orleans, LA 70118.
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Old 03-27-2008, 04:55 PM
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I remember reading an article about Al Copeland, and he said to the
interviewer " out on the race-course , it is merely a battle of wallets, if it takes more money to win, so be it ! " Great quote !
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Old 03-27-2008, 06:07 PM
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Al Copeland
COPELAND AL COPELAND SUCCESSFUL RESTAURATEUR, QUIET HUMANITARIAN, AND INSPIRATION TO MANY Alvin Charles Copeland, a restaurateur known for his brilliant business sense and extravagant lifestyle, passed away on Easter Sunday March 23, 2008 outside of Munich, Germany of complications from treatment of Merkel Cell Carcinoma, an extremely rare and aggressive cancer. He was 64. Diagnosed shortly before Thanksgiving, Al approached his last battle like a true champion. As was genuinely his nature, Al researched every available treatment and sought out the very best methods available. Although he was quite ill toward the end of his life, Al never thought of himself as suffering. He would say that his ordeal, although truly painful and tedious, was "nothing". "People go through much worse every day," he would say. That was the way he viewed things. Al Copeland was grateful for everything he had despite his vast resources. He wanted to help everyone and more importantly feed everyone. In fact, every time one of his grandchildren was born, Al would bring Popeyes chicken to the entire floor of the hospital. Even when he was ill himself, the nurses got chicken or some other extravagant meal. "Al was a local icon, the stuff of legends. A folk hero, he lived his dreams. He found success in adversity and good fortune in family. He had a joyous time doing it. Controversy only engaged his competitive spirit. He loved spice and speed," said Kit Wohl, Al's longtime friend. Of course, Al is most famous for founding Popeyes Famous Fried Chicken and developing its well-known and loved recipe (still a closely guarded secret). He was the "come back kid"; a true rags-to-riches success story. In addition to his more famous accomplishments, there were many lesser-known sides to his iconic character. For instance, a huge part of him was dedicated to charity and to the improvement of his beloved city and state. In 1989, the $1 million Alvin C. Copeland Endowed Chair of Franchising was established at Louisiana State University. As part of the Eminent Scholars Program, the endowment provides for the development of a full curriculum of franchising studies at both the undergraduate and graduate level. As a result, June 28, 1989 was named "Al Copeland Day" in both the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana. Copeland also supported other education programs such as the National Food Service Institute, the Chefs Apprentice Program at Delgado Community College, the IFA, and several other educational programs. Al was also famous for his elaborate decorations at his Metairie home. However, his love of Christmas extended much deeper than that. It was his greatest joy to personally hand out candy canes and stuffed animals to the children who came by to see the decorations. There was also his secret Santa program that went on for a number of years. "I want to give 1,000 children a real Christmas," he said. "Santa and his elf should ring the doorbell after dark on Christmas Eve," he specified, "They must have a sack of presents, wrapped and labeled by name-a big gift and some small ones and a stocking for each child. The elf must have a camera, to take two photographs. One for the family and one for me." That meant more than 3,000 gifts, 1,000 Christmas stockings, cameras, elves, and Santas complete with costumes. He inspected every gift, discarding some as not big enough, exciting, or special. An entire floor at Popeye's headquarters was dedicated to a massive corporate "wrap-a-thon" between Thanksgiving and the week before Christmas. The Knights of Columbus and Knights of Peter Claver identified the families by Catholic Parish, and provided a list of names, ages, addresses, and telephone numbers to call the families in advance. Al refused media coverage for the event. He felt it would spoil the mystery of Santa Claus for children. Al Copeland never did anything on a small scale. Everything had to be the best, and he had to be the best at everything. He was known worldwide for his activities in the sport of offshore powerboat racing. Driving his boats to unprecedented fame in racing history, he brought fun and show business to the sport. He won the internationally prestigious Harmsworth Trophy, the coveted World Championship, and the National US #1 high point championship six out of six times running. He went on to help found the new powerboat association. When crew and friends used inappropriate language on the race site, he would take a $100 bill from the offender (he often had to pay the fine himself). On the way out of town, he would stop at a Catholic Church and stuff the poor box. Al Copeland took joy in shaking things up. After the famous war of words with author Anne Rice, he threw garlic from his converted boat during the Mardi Gras parades. Another public battle was over tomatoes. The late Johnny Becnel was well known for the kickoff to the Creole tomato season, showing up at the French Market annually to auction off the first Plaquemines Parish Creoles of the year. Al Copeland and Paul Prudhomme duked it out at the auction, ending up at an astonishing $10,000 for the first case, then as gentlemen, split it. The money went to Becnel's workers, who tended the crop and the tomatoes to Copeland's Restaurants and K-Paul's. Al won numerous awards as well. The International Franchise Association named him 1989 Entrepreneur of the Year. A MUFSO Golden Chain recipient in 1988, he was named to the Louisiana's Restaurant Association Hall of Fame in 1995. In recognition of his many contributions to the community, LRA honored Al Copeland with their first Service to Humanity Award in 1993, the same year he received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Popeyes. Al Copeland also was an incredibly spiritual person. He traveled to Rome and visited the Vatican shortly before he sought treatment in Germany. He also bathed in the healing waters at Lourdes, France. He prayed nightly and went to Catholic Mass every Sunday. Al Copeland inspired a great many people and touched so many lives. He is survived not only by his family and friends, but also by the thousands of people who worked with him around the world, across America, and throughout New Orleans. As Chris Rose aptly wrote, "He [Al] was our Elvis…The chicken king has left the building." His parents, William Allen Copeland Jr. and Augusta Marie Comeaux Copeland, and his brother, William Allen Copeland III, preceded Al Copeland in death. He is survived by his beloved children Alvin C. Copeland, Jr., Bonnie Ann Copeland, Christopher Allen Copeland, Alisha Catherine Copeland, Charlotte Copeland Womac, Alex Cody Copeland, Chandler Alvin Copeland, Casidy Johnette Copeland, and Chaz William Copeland, his grandchildren, Allison Copeland Fitzsimmons, Christina Copeland Theriot, Ashley Ann Copeland, Crystal Copeland Theriot, Christen Copeland Theriot, Alexandria Catherine Copeland, Ariel Lynne Copeland, Candace Copeland Theriot, Alyssa Mary Copeland, Angela Catherine Bruchis, Christopher Allen Copeland, Jr., Avery Ariel Bruchis, Colin Douglas Womac, and Addison Kathryn Womac. He is also survived by his brother, Gil Copeland and his two sisters-in-law, Jean Copeland and Laura Copeland. Both visitation and sservices will be held at Holy Name of Jesus Church on Monday, March 31, 2008, 6367 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, LA 70118. Visitation will be from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. with Mass at 2:00p.m. Entombment will follow immediately at the Copeland Mausoleum at Metairie Cemetery, 5100 Pontchartrain Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70124. His pallbearers are Al Copeland, Jr., Chris Copeland, Alex Copeland, Gil Copeland, Gil Copeland, Jr., Brad Copeland, Stan Ware, and Jay Polit. His honorary pallbearers are Ray Maroni, Dennis "Doc" Surgeoner, Kerry Weilbaecher, Jean Cohen, Douglas J. Womac, Jr., Tim Thompson, Alan Jaeger, Andrew Jaeger
Published in The Times-Picayune on 3/27/2008.
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Old 03-27-2008, 06:08 PM
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