Ohio Sikhs pay tribute to former Springfield mayor Warren Copeland

The Sikh community joined in to honour the life and legacy of Mayor Warren Copeland who passed in January 2024, months after retirement.

Mayor Warren Copeland surrounded by Sikh community leaders / Sameep Singh Gumtala

The Sikh community from Dayton and Springfield, Ohio recently gathered at Springfield City Hall and the local high school to honour the life and legacy of former Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland. 

Copeland was mayor from 1990 to 1994, then from 1998 until his retirement in November 2003. He passed away on January 22, 2024, at the age of 80. At the memorial service, members of the Sikh community and Copeland's family and friends paid tribute to their beloved mayor.

Avtar Singh, a Springfield resident of over 25 years, along with his wife Sarabjit Kaur and their children, attended the memorial visitation and service. Kaur shared, “Mayor Copeland was our longtime friend since he became mayor in 1998, and he would always visit the Sikh booth we organize every year at the Springfield Culture Festival, where he happily engaged with other Sikh community members and volunteered to have a turban tied by our volunteers.” 

Sandeep Singh Gumtala, a community activist from Dayton, said, “I will miss tying the turban on him every year at the Culture Fest and seeing him annually at the Memorial Day Parade. Mayor Copeland’s genuine interest in fostering inclusivity and understanding was evident in his active participation in such events, where he engaged with Sikh community members, appreciating and celebrating the rich tapestry of cultures that make up the vibrant community in Springfield.”

Copeland was a professor of religion at Wittenburg University, teaching social ethics, aside from serving on the Springfield City Commissions for 35 years. In a letter to the City Commission, Copeland had written, “Retiring early will allow me to focus on my health and family. I will be forever indebted to this community and to the citizens of Springfield, who entrusted me to serve as Mayor for many years. As this chapter of my life closes, I know the next chapter will see me involved in the community I love so dearly.”