Ben Coplan: a valued public servant

BRATTLEBORO — Ben Coplan of Marlboro Avenue died Oct. 18 at 82.

He had devoted most of his work life to human services.

Ben's way of serving meant doing, always, whatever it takes. If he'd helped someone find housing, he got his pickup that evening and helped them move. If someone needed a job, he didn't rely on ads or the Department of Labor - he went after an employer he thought should help and persuaded them to. If the police were holding someone with a drug problem, they trusted Ben to take over and find real help.

The people he helped were made to feel they were worth his while. And, if the system got in the way, he eluded it.

Being Ben's managers wasn't easy. But they had better be on the up and up or they might find themselves unemployed.

Ben gave himself extravagantly to whatever work, including in the Peace Corps with his wife, Cheryl. In Brattleboro he worked with mental health care, zoning, the justice system, Holsteins, the Guilford Community Church, gardening, and child- and grandchild-raising. Especially, he gave himself to Brattleboro Area Affordable Housing, the nonprofit he co-founded in 1995 to serve unmet needs of people with housing difficulties.

He was important to me as a co-worker. And to all he helped here for 45 years.

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