John Gilbert Copella, 81, of Lighthouse Point, Fla., died Friday, September 23, 2011 of congestive heart failure at his home.
He was born on December 27, 1929 in Kersey, a son of the late John Francis Copella and Mary Gladys Copella (nee Buckley).
He married Dorothy Baines, who preceded him in death in 2006. They celebrated their 43rd wedding anniversary in August of that year.
Mr. Copella enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1948, receiving training and serving as an aircraft power plant mechanic. He attained the rank of Staff Sergeant before separating from the service with an honorable discharge in 1952.
Following his service in the USAF, he attended Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, majoring in journalism and earning a Bachelor of Arts degree. John began his post-collegiate career in radio broadcasting, but elected to enter into the automobile business in the mid-1960s. He eventually became General Manager and part owner of Westside Volkswagen-Subaru-BMW in North Olmsted, Ohio. In later years, Mr. Copella worked for Sam’s Club in Melbourne, Fla., and retired from Sam’s in 2009 after 19 years of service.
Mr. Copella was an enthusiastic gardener, and together with his wife, maintained noteworthy vegetable gardens and grew competition-quality roses for many years. He was a dedicated amateur musician as well, remaining active in his church choir throughout his life. Family and faith were foremost in his life as a loving husband and devoted father.
Mr. Copella is survived by his son, John Christopher Copella of Orlando, Fla.; his daughter, Jennifer Elizabeth Magnussen of Lighthouse Point, Fla.; his stepdaughter, Sandra Medlin of Oakland, Calif.; and his sister, Patricia Dalton of Fairfax City, Va.
In addition to his wife and parents, he was preceded in death by his sister, Elizabeth Jean, "Bette," in July 2001; and his brother Richard, "Dick," in February 1980.
Military honors and interment for John Gilbert Copella will be held on Saturday, October 22 at 2 p.m. at Fairfax Memorial Park, 9900 Braddock Rd., Fairfax, Va.
Condolences may be addressed to: John G. Copella Family, 2731 NE 28th Court, Lighthouse Point, Fla. 33064.