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Until we meet again 

By Randy Garrison

It seems I am writing these kinds of columns much more frequently now than I did in years past. It is hard to believe I lost two friends this past week within just a few days of each other.  

Both were relatively young, especially as I get older. None of us, however, are guaranteed a specific number of years.  

Fortunately, both men made the most of the time they were given here on earth. Maybe that makes it even harder to see them move on to the next life. 

Wayne Jones and Dan Copland transitioned to eternity this past week.  

Wayne passed Oct. 10, and Dan passed a few days later, Oct. 13. Wayne was 64, and Dan was 51.  

Regardless of the number of years each person is allotted, those left behind – friends and family – are not ready to see them go. While our faith in God our Father tells us the transition will be what no eye has seen or can comprehend, those left behind still would prefer to hold onto to our family and friends.  

Wayne succumbed to heart issues he had struggled with for many years. In fact, when I first met Wayne when he worked for the City of Hartselle Public Works many years ago, he was having to retire because of his health.  

Over the years he has had many close calls but had been able to pull through. I remember seeing his prayer requests grow more frequent in the past year or so as his heart issues continued to worsen.  

While his physical heart continued to grow weaker, the heart that his family and friends knew continued to get bigger and make more room for those he loved and cared for. Wayne was known for his cooking, far and wide. He was always willing to work a fundraiser for any group that requested his help. I have bought many Boston butts Wayne smoked over the years. He attended many special events with his tenderloin and sides ready for those participating. 

 I remember this past year, during the time of COVID, many people – especially older folks and those whose health did not permit them to get out – received visits from Wayne. He posted photos of many, many jars of soup he cooked and delivered to help brighten someone’s day.  

He loved his community and his friends and was always willing to help, and many times, that help came by way of his cooking talent. He gladly shared this with his friends, and most folks think of seeing Wayne’s red truck pulling his trailer around, ready to do another round of cooking and serving food. 

I met Dan Copeland when he opened his first cleaners a few years ago on Cedar Street. I was working at the newspaper then and called on him for advertising. Once you met Dan, you were no longer a stranger.  

I knew both his sisters already but had not met Dan that I can remember.  

Dan was always a lot of fun to be around. I got to know him personally working on the chamber board and through Kiwanis as well.  

Dan was a giver. He was a patriot who loved being a Marine and loved his hometown, especially the Hartselle Tigers, and his Auburn Tigers as well. 

He worked tirelessly while on the Chamber board with Depot Days and other events, especially helping to bring musical talent to the events.  

He was also proud to be a charter member of the Jonathan Smith Marine Corps League. He was instrumental in recognizing Jonathan on the 10th anniversary of his death and making sure he was honored for his service and the price he paid defending his country. 

Dan was so much fun to be around – always smiling, always finding ways to make you laugh – and he truly enjoyed life.  

Both men had a servant’s heart and gave back in so many ways to our community and hometown. They will be missed, and I personally am having a hard time believing they are no longer here with us.  

To honor their memory, we all need to step up and make sure we give back to our community and continue the legacy both left behind. 

Both left Hartselle and the community better than they found it, as well as leaving big shoes to fill.  

Both fought the good fight and saw the lights of glory this past week. So long for now my friends. See you soon.  

Rest high on that mountain; your work here is done.