Gladys Groves Copeland
Gladys Copeland, the former Gladys Groves, was a lifelong animal lover and a “guardian angel” for our organization. Since 1994, her donations have covered the cost of major expenditures such as animal cages, flooring, outdoor dog runs, and a large exercise yard. Her generosity has also made it possible for us to maintain employees to help with operation of the shelter. As of December, 2013, Mrs. Copeland’s contributions had totalled over $200,000.
Mrs. Copeland was born in Bonavista on February 14, 1911. She moved to Boston at the age of 15 and went to work as a domestic servant to a wealthy couple. She later went to work in one of Boston’s finest restaurants, staying there for the next 20 years. Gladys liked to try new pursuits, and it was while skiing in Vermont that she met her future husband. After her marriage at 39, she settled down on his farm in Milton, Massachusetts.
Charles Copeland, who started by selling spring water from a well on his farm, later founded the Milton Spring Beverages Company. After the Pepsi Cola Company offered him a franchise, the business grew phenomenally with Charles making and bottling cola and also distributing it from his fleet of 72 trucks. In 1983 the Copeland family formed a foundation to share their business success with the town of Milton. Over the years the foundation has given away millions of dollars to many good causes.
While Mrs. Copeland had been well known in the Boston area for her support of local schools and other groups, it was during a visit home to Bonavista in 1994 that her brother Willie suggested that she might also want to subsidize some worthy causes here in Newfoundland. Well, that was how it began; and several groups on the Bonavista peninsula, including the Clarenville Area SPCA, have benefited from her kindness since then. During one of her last visits home in 1997, we were honoured to have her tour our shelter and meet with our board members during a luncheon held in her honour.
Over the years, despite the revenue from our fundraising events and the kind support of donors in the area that we serve, we would never have found the additional funds to enhance our operations and maintain our building without the generosity of spirit that Mrs. Copeland has shown. On her 94th birthday in 2005, members of her family in Bonavista joined with us to unveil a new sign to dedicate the Gladys Groves Copeland Animal Shelter.
Gladys Groves Copeland, a lady with a big heart, died on January 22, 2007, just weeks short of her 96th birthday.