Donald (Don) Henry Copenhagen, 92, passed away on July 6, 2019 at the Oregon Veterans Home, Lebanon, OR. Don was born on November 12, 1926 in Oroville, California to Henry and Elna (Chilade) Copenhagen. He started life at a work camp his parents provided for construction crews building roads and rail lines across the greater Northwest and California. Later, his parents and older brother Lester, moved to Portland, Oregon where he grew up.
Don’s family lived in Southeast Portland where he attended Sunnyside Grade School and where he met his future wife, Geraldine (Gerri) Wagner. They were 10 years old and their families were neighbors. Don graduated from Washington High School on June 1,1945. On June 11, 1945 he entered the U.S. Army and reported for training at Fort Lewis, WA. He was scheduled to deploy to the European theatre but was later reassigned to Fort Missoula, Montana, where he guarded Italian and German war prisoners. Don was assigned to Co E, 23rd Infantry, 2nd Division. When the war ended, Don escorted prisoners on a train to New York City. He said many of the prisoners did not want to return to Europe preferring to stay in the U.S.
After his service, he attended Oregon State College majoring in Physical Education. He was a member of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity. Don left college to work with his father Henry at the Western Seat Cover Company, a family business founded in Portland in 1929. Following Henry’s death, Don started the American Fabrics business with his wife Gerri. He retired in his 80’s, however, his cell phone greeting still answers “American Fabrics” to this day. He said he never really retired.
He was baptized at Hinson Memorial Baptist Church at age 10 and attended there until he departed for the war. Don and Gerri were reunited after the war and were married at Hinson Memorial Baptist Church on September 4, 1948. They had a long marriage prior to Gerri’s death in August of 2001. Don and Gerri had a large family, six children. Their house was always full of activity as it became the center for neighborhood children. They also had an entrepreneurial spirit. Over the years they sold Christmas Trees, purchased homes for rentals, and other endeavors. They also were members of Burlingame Baptist Church. Later, Don married Patricia Hage and were married for 10 years before her passing in 2013.
Don was an avid sports fan. He started his sports career as part of the Washington High School basketball, football, baseball and track teams where he won many awards. He was a championship bowler as well and was known for his top scores and winning several tournaments. In addition, Don was a terrific dancer!
He was a very social person, attending many events over the years, including Washington High School Reunions, until last year. His favorite activities were family gatherings with his relatives and children. There isn’t a berry pie Don didn’t like, along with steak, fried chicken, popcorn, root beer floats and cracked crab. Camping, boating, hunting and traveling in his RV, visiting many places such as the Pendleton Round Up, Metolius River and Oregon Coast, were among his many interest over the years.
At age 90, Don was chosen to join an Honor Flight for WWII Veterans to Washington D.C. A trip of a lifetime! Don was a member of Beaverton Elks, Tigard Eagles, Vancouver American Legion, and the Masons.
Don is survived by his six children: Gail Oxley (Terry), Tumwater, WA., Carol Copenhagen, Grand Rapids, MN, Ruth Price, San Jose, CA., Ron Copenhagen (Lois), Canby, OR., Elna Benbow (Paul), Cary, NC and Kris Copenhagen, (Becky), Portland, OR. His grandchildren include, Tyler (Melody), Jean and Richard Oxley, Michael and Bryan Olds (Taylor), Brian Price (Jeannette), Eric (Lily) and Laura Copenhagen, Stephen, Matthew (Tabitha) and Anna Benbow and Shane Copenhagen (Lauren). He also has six great grandchildren. Dyer and Lily Oxley, James and Liberty Olds, Justin Price, and Calleigh Copenhagen. In addition, several nieces, nephews and other relatives.
Preceding him in death are Don’s parents, Henry and Elna, brother Lester Copenhagen and sister Lorena Copenhagen, and wives Gerri Wagner Copenhagen (2001) and Patricia Hage Copenhagen (2013)
The legacy of Don and Gerri’s lives on through their family and we are grateful to them for giving us wonderful memories, countless adventures and a boundless love for one another.
The family will be greeting friends and relatives at a reception at 12:00 PM, prior to the interment at Riverview Abbey at 1:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Oregon Veterans Home Lebanon. Condolences/memories may be left on Don’s online guest book at: https://www.riverviewabbey.com/
Riverview Abbey Funeral Home Oregon Veterans Home Lebanon
0319 SW Taylors Ferry Road 600 North 5th ST
Portland, OR 97219 Lebanon, OR 97355