The irrepressible Forrest Lann Copeland passed into spirit on February 24, 2023 after a sudden illness.
Born in Texas on October 30, 1947, Lann attended elementary school in Laporte, Texas and began piano lessons. Moving to Houston in 1959, he continued to study piano and organ, and attended junior and senior high school in the Memorial area. It was there that Lann’s talent for the Spanish language first developed.
Moving with his family to Crockett, Texas just before graduation, Lann matriculated Crockett High School. His escapades with his cousin Sharon are still legendary in that town – one involving a stolen school bus is particularly memorable. Despite his shenanigans, his wild side went undetected, and he remained the popular church organist at the Presbyterian church in Crockett.
Lann attended Sam Houston State Teachers’ College (now University of Texas Huntsville) where he was a dorm don. The job of dorm don was not without its dangers: Lann once coolly disarmed a party of drunken undergraduates who had brought a handgun into their room. Lann spent his summers with college friends at their homes in Mexico and Nicaragua to improve his Spanish, an experience that made a deep impression on him.
His family moved to Victoria, Canada before he graduated with a degree in Spanish in 1969, and he joined them there later that year, driving his baby-blue Volkswagen convertible all the way from Texas.
Finding his feet quickly in Victoria, Lann found work as an organist at the Oak Bay Marina, serenading diners with his vast repertoire of show tunes and popular music, all played by ear. He also played at the Barbary Banjo in Bastion Square for several years. When not at work, Lann could be found at Reggie’s After Hours Club or the Crest Motor Inn. Lann was lucky with pull tabs, and was much sought after as a trivia team member.
Lann spent several years as a travelling concert artist for the Wurlitzer Organ company, travelling across Canada and giving concerts in every major city and town. True to his Southern roots and in denial about the Canadian climate, Lann thought a dress shirt and a windbreaker would suffice in any weather; he staunchly refused to buy an overcoat until he landed at the airport in Saskatoon one brisk February day and realized that his survival depended on upgrading his outerwear.
In the 1970s, he worked as a sales representative for Scott Piano and Organ on Fort Street in Victoria before starting his own business, Copeland Music Centre in Brentwood Bay. He was also instrumental in starting the Brentwood School of Music with friend Carrie Dujela. As a dealer for Eminent Organs, a company based in the Netherlands, Lann travelled to Holland from time to time and attended various music trade shows in the US.
For recreation, Lann enjoyed travelling to Palm Desert, where he owned a mobile home; he also enjoyed trips to San Francisco and Hawaii. For many years he travelled frequently to Washington state to visit his dear friend, Tom Breda.
Lann was active in the Victoria business community for decades until he moved his store back to Brentwood Bay and finally retired. He enjoyed life in his Brentwood Bay home; tending the garden, visiting with friends and playing with his canine companion, Quincey. Lann was a Mercedes and Lincoln enthusiast all his life, and took pride in owning many different models over the years. Despite failing health, Lann enjoyed shopping for and cooking gourmet meals for himself and his close friend and housemate, Troy Thompson.
Lann was a unique and gifted man, and lucky to have treasured, stalwart friends Troy Thompson and Bob Ferguson who supported him and his family members through his final illness. He was also fortunate to be cared for by dedicated health care workers at Saanich Peninsula Hospital and Victoria General Hospital who made his final days more comfortable.
He is survived by his intense sister, Anita Marie Copeland Kess; imposing brother-in-law, Dr. Joseph Kess; effervescent niece, Christina Marie Kess; and athletic great-nephews Malcolm Joseph Caldwell and Max Richard Caldwell, all of Victoria. He is also survived by his brilliant nephew, Dr. Tony Kess and creative niece-in-law Lynn Marie Kane; inquisitive great nephews Ebb Anthony Kane and Llewyn Forest Kane of St. John’s, Newfoundland. He is predeceased by his parents, Forrest Lann Copeland, Sr, and Margaret Ruth Williams Copeland.
The family will hold a private gathering at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Saanich Peninsula Hospital Society.
Condolences may be offered to the family below.
Susan Goolsby Courter
Anita, Joe and family:
I am truly saddened of heart by the sudden passing of my talented, inspirational, and long-time friend, Lann.
We shared a love of music and their continuing respective stories. Visiting Copelands Music in Royal Oak on a Saturday afternoon
was a highlight of a week. I extend my deepest sympathy to his family at this very difficult time.
Rest In Peace Lann, your friend Beverley
Allan and Geri Jacques
Heartfelt condolences to Anita and family and Troy. We first met Lann in 2002 at his store in the Royal Oak Plaza. First impressions matter and Lann immediately impressed us with his dedication to understanding our interests. With shared interests in music and dogs, that blossomed into a wonderful friendship that endured, the purchase of 2 organs, time spent with Lann while he serviced church organs, visits to our home, and many warm and friendly chats in his store where we got to meet his mom and other friends.
Lann was an incredibly talented musician, a sponsor of community music programs, a delightful raconteur of stories, and a good friend.
We’ve lost one of the best.
Allan and Geri Jacques
carol hail weller
I am sorry to hear about Lannys death. We all have many fun memories of him. I know you will miss him
carol hail weller
I first met Lann back in the 80’s when I relocated to Victoria from the East Coast. He was a true gentleman & so talented! My thoughts will be with his family & friends as they celebrate his life & cherish their memories of him.
Virginia and Alan Lace-Evans
Our thoughts and love to your family
What a remarkable and very talented person
Lann was one of my favourite people.
We lived in the same building on Oswego St. for a decade. 2 or 3 times a week on my way to work I’d stop in at Scott Music on Fort St. If Lann wasn’t already at a keyboard it didn’t take much coaxing to get him to dazzle. Lann was the guy who could make one of those multi-tiered Whirlitzer Organs sound as Whirlitzer intended. Quite amazing.
An unparralled wit Lann always brought a smile. Can’t ask for more than that. Happy to have known him. Clive Kitchener
Dear Anita and Joe,
So very sorry to hear of the loss of your brother, who lived a robust life.
Mavis and Brian
We are so very sorry for the loss of your brother, Anita and Joe. Thank you for sharing his story today.
This is so special to me . It was so full of Beautiful Life stories . God Bless all of you and Thank You for such an Informative obituary ,So sorry for your loss , so very Happy he was surrounded by people who loved him . Love to all , Judy McDaniel Rowland
My Deepest sympathies to you Anita and Joe
Anita and Joe,
Sorry for your loss. He will always be in your memory
Maja and family
I fondly remember Lannie coming to our house when I was a teenager to have a jam session with my Dad. He was on the piano keys, and my Dad on the sax, and the memories of that is my best memory of Anita’s brother Lan!! The man he was!
Dear Anita, Joe, Family and Friends.
We are broken hearted to hear of your Dear Lann’s passing and hope that all of your wonderful memories help you through this difficult time.
With love and tears,
Cathy and Kerry
Lanny was a special friend and neighbor while he and his family lived in Crockett, Texas. I remember them well. He and I had some good laughs during those years, and I appreciate his love and friendship.
My sympathy to his family and friends.
May the Lord Bless You and Keep You, my friend.