Marcia N. Copel, 95, of North Branford, Connecticut, died at Evergreen Woods Health Center on December 22. Ms. Copel was a social worker who lived in Falmouth for many years before moving to Connecticut to be near family.
A native of Brooklyn, New York, she appeared in one of the first “talkies,” filmed in Brooklyn, a movie called “The Hole in the Wall,” starring Claudette Colbert and Edward G. Robinson. She was 4 or 5 years old.
She met Joseph William Copel shortly before World War II, while he was in the orthopedic residency program at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. He left to serve in the US Army in Europe and they were married within days of his return home in 1946.
After her husband completed his residency, the couple moved to the Boston area in the early 1950s. During this time, Ms. Copel raised three children while pursuing a career as a psychiatric social worker. For 12 years she was chief social worker at the Human Relations Service of Wellesley-Weston. While there, she initiated a public speaking service that “translated mental health concepts to jargon-free explanations lay audiences could understand,” she said in a 1985 interview with The Falmouth Enterprise.
For many years Ms. Copel was a clinical associate at Simmons College School of Social Work and clinical instructor at Boston College and Boston University schools of social work.
After spending several summer vacations and other time in Falmouth, the couple built a home on Racing Beach Avenue in Sippewissett in 1971. Finally, in 1984, they closed their respective office doors and sold their home in Chestnut Hill and moved here. Ms. Copel said about the move, “We’re one of ‘us,’ not ‘them,’ any more.” They opened adjoining offices at Homeport on Gifford Street to continue working in their professions.
Ms. Copel was a full clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, a certified licensed independent clinical social worker and a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers.
For recreation, she went boating and fishing with her husband; they were involved with the Upper Cape Power Squadron and took Coast Guard Auxiliary courses. The couple also found scuba diving exciting and had once participated in a marine archaeological project in the Gulf of Aqaba. Many years after that experience, she would become a volunteer at the Woods Hole Aquarium.
Her husband died in December 1985, not long before they would have celebrated their 40th anniversary.
Ms. Copel continued her family counseling practice at Homeport and, in 1987, spent 15 days in the Soviet Union on a work trip sponsored by the American Psychological Society. During her stay, she studied Russian families and met Soviet family counselors and psychologists, and was also able to meet some of her relatives on her father’s side of the family, as he had been born there. In an Enterprise article later that year, she described the experience of meeting a cousin with whom she had corresponded for 10 years, but had never seen in person. He was an engineer in the town of Chernigov who owned more than 3,000 books and had read nearly every major American author, she said. But the most surprising thing about him was the resemblance he bore to a common uncle and also the mannerisms the two men shared: “It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life,” she said.
Ms. Copel met and wed Irving M. Chester and they made their home in East Falmouth for many years before moving to Connecticut. They were married for 25 years at the time of his death in 2014.
She leaves her three children, Marjorie Copel Preston, Matthew W. Copel and Joshua A. Copel; two stepdaughters, Natalie Fisher Guerin and Joanne Chester Bander; seven grandchildren, Katy Preston, Emma Preston, Dan Copel, Sarah Copel, Ilana Copel, Rachel Copel and Dave Copel; two great-grandchildren; and extended family.
In addition to her husbands, she was preceded in death by her two brothers, Jay Kagno and Munro Kagno.
Services were in Connecticut.