Frank Copley

Frank O. Copley, professor emeritus of Latin, died Feb. 3 in Rogers City. He was 85 years old.

He joined the faculty in 1934 and taught here until his retirement in 1977.

His special interests included the Roman poet Catullus and Latin elegiac poetry. His translations of Virgil’s The Aeneid, Cicero’s On Old Age and On Friendship and Lucretius’ The Nature of Things, among many others, made the classics accessible to the public.

“Frank Copley was gentle, unassuming, beloved by generations of students and by all of his colleagues,” said John H. D’Arms, former chair of the Department of Classical Studies, now vice provost for academic affairs and dean of the Rackham School of Graduate Studies.

“Long before it became fashionable, he recognized the points of connection between ancient and modern poetry—the formal innovations of Catullus and of E.E. Cummings, for example—and he played a critical role in helping to establish what is now our University’s flourishing program in comparative literature.”

As a member of the U-M Committee on Veterans Affairs and as director of admissions with advanced standing from 1942 to 1947, Copley helped develop the University’s policy for the admission of returning World War II veterans. He also aided in setting up advanced placement for talented high school students throughout Michigan and other states.

Following his retirement, he served as president of the American Philological Association, took up photography and painting, and studied organ and harpsichord. He also wrote three books of poetry on family and life experiences for his children and grandchildren.

Copley was born on Aug. 11, 1907, in Mount Vernon, N.Y. He received a B.A. from Stanford University in 1930, an M.A. degree from Harvard University in 1931 and studied at the University of Goettingen, Germany, before returning to Stanford where he received his doctorate in 1935.

He is survived by his wife Margaret of Rogers City; his sister, Gertrude Knight of Palo Alto, Calif.; five children: Ann C. Zinn of South Lyon; Susan F. Copley of Dexter; John A. Copley of Ypsilanti; James D. Copley of North Bend, Ore.; and Elizabeth E. Copley of Bexley, Ohio, and by seven grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Copley Prize Fund, an endowment established by students of Frank Copley to recognize outstanding achievement in Latin and awarded by the Department of Classical Studies each year.


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