Hayden native Ann Copeland dies
Former YVRA operations manager killed when her four-wheeler rolled Thursday night
Steamboat Springs — Longtime Hayden resident Ann Copeland was killed Thursday night when her four-wheeler rolled.
According to the Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Office, Copeland went out to spray weeds. Her husband, Kevin Copeland, went to look for her when she didn’t return. He found her where the wreck occurred in Rio Blanco County, on the Copelands’ Pyramid Llama Ranch south of Hayden. She was dead when her husband arrived, a news release from the Sheriff’s Office stated. Copeland was 52.
“It’s devastating to all of us,” Hayden Police Chief Ray Birch said. “She’s a real pillar and a real part of our community.”
Copeland was born and raised in Hayden. She was a fifth- or sixth-generation local, Hayden resident Judy Green said. Copeland’s mother is Pat Holderness, and her father is Wes Signs.
“On both sides of her family the roots run really, really deep in this country,” Green said.
She described Ann Copeland as strong and self-confident.
“I first met Ann when I was substitute teaching in (1974) when Ann was still in high school, and of course, my husband’s family knew her family, and she was just a vivacious, outstanding individual,” Green said.
Copeland was active across the community and helped start the Hayden Marketplace where she sold homemade jewelry alongside other artisans. Copeland also worked at Yampa Valley Regional Airport for 21 years, retiring in 2007.
Copeland attended the airport’s grand opening in 1966, and her grandparents, Rosella and Ernest Signs, were on the maiden Frontier Airlines flight at YVRA. They were given VIP treatment because they had sold their land to Routt County so the airport could be built.
Copeland served as terminal and operations manager before leaving YVRA.
Copeland started in 1986, working mostly as a baggage handler for American Airlines.
“I think Ann’s one of those larger-than-life personalities,” Airport Manager Dave Ruppel said. “She was a huge part of the airport scene out here for a lot of years, both with the airlines and then with the airport just about the time that I got here a few years back. She was hugely involved with getting things going on the initial expansions to the terminal and kind of watching over that project.”
She also stayed involved in Hayden life. If anything big was going on in the community, Copeland was in the middle of it, Ruppel said.
“All of our thoughts and prayers go out to Kevin and the Copeland family on their loss,” Ruppel said in an e-mail.
Town Manager Russ Martin said he’s worked closely with Ann and Kevin Copeland.
“They’re just great people,” he said, “so I really feel for him and the whole family having to deal with that. And Wes and Pat are huge with this community, always have been, and to lose a daughter, that’s pretty devastating. The community lost a big one.”
Copeland always was ready with a smile and a joke, Martin said. She worked toward revitalizing downtown and improving Hayden.
“She was important to me, and I’m sure as important to me and everybody else as you could find in Hayden,” Martin said.
Hayden resident Tammie Delaney also noted that Copeland kept her finger on the town’s pulse.
“She’s going to leave a huge gap,” Delaney said. Copeland was “very involved in everything from the Farmers Market to the Hayden Marketplace, you name it. She’s one of those people who if she said she was getting involved, you were excited because she’d make it happen.”
Ann Copeland also enjoyed the outdoors, Judy Green said. Ann and Kevin Copeland leased and led llamas on pack trips in the Flat Tops. Their ranch is on Routt County Road 19, about 28 miles from Hayden.
Judy and Jerry Green live in Routt County south of Hayden, not far from the Copelands.
“She loved the mountains, loved backpacking and trekking back in the forest and wilderness with her llamas,” Judy Green said.
Copeland’s influence spread across her hometown, she said.
She was “such a force in this community, an underlying, supportive force in this community,” Green said.
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