DANIEL CLIFTON AND CONNIE SWINNEY • PICAYUNE STAFF
MARBLE FALLS — If there was one thing the Rev. Max Copeland taught in the manner he lived his life it was this: Love all with no conditions. Copeland, who was simply known as Brother Max, exemplified loving others as Christ showed us how.
And it didn’t matter if you ever sat in his church or even went to church; Brother Max just loved you.
“He genuinely cared about people,” said his son, Dan Copeland.
On May 25, Brother Max passed away in his sleep. He was 85.
“It’s going to take Marble Falls a good little while to get past the passing of Brother Max,” said his longtime friend Martin McLean. The two struck up a bond in 1954 in northwest Burnet County when Brother Max served at the Baptist church in Briggs and McLean lived in Oakalla. And for those who knew Brother Max, the place to two met was a fitting part of his story — a ball game.
In 1958, Brother Max and his wife, Glenna, picked up and moved to Marble Falls, where he became the pastor at First Baptist Church. It would become the place the couple called home for almost 60 years.
“He loved this community, he loved the people and he loved the children,” McLean said.
Copeland quickly became a fixture at Marble Falls sporting events. Over the years, he probably attended thousands of games and youth events from T-ball to varsity athletics. While he loved sports, Brother Max wasn’t there just for the game.
“Brother Max loved the kids, and he would attend as many games and events as he could for the children,” McLean added.
Brother Max enjoyed the competition, no doubt, and he let more than one referee or umpire know his opinion of a particular call on an occasion or two. But after every game, the man in the red suspenders made it a point to shake as many of the kids’ hands as possible, telling each they played a great game and, if possible, noting something about his or her performance.
But probably what drove Brother Max was his faith in God. He came to hear God’s call at 16 and began holding youth revivals. While a student at Baylor University, Brother Max would drive to Haskell on weekends to preach before getting called to the Baptist church in Briggs.
Brother Max quickly got to know everybody in Briggs. He would remember most of them throughout his life, recalling their names and family.
“Preaching the good news, that was his duty,” Dan Copeland said. “He loved (everybody) and wanted them to come to Christ. It was evident that God was working through him. His deep and profound faith spurred him on that he was doing the right thing.”
Though he preached at the Baptist church — in Briggs and then Marble Falls — Brother Max didn’t see the world by denominations. He only saw God’s people.
“He felt the community was his family,” Dan Copeland said. “When somebody in the community hurt, he hurt. He was a Baptist preacher, but he reached across the lines of denomination.”
Even after stepping down as the pastor at First Baptist Church of Marble Falls several years ago, Brother Max kept serving and teaching both at the church and in the community.
During the spring and fall, folks could often find Brother Max greeting people at Sweet Berry Farm just outside of Marble Falls. His son Dan and Dan’s wife, Gretchen, owned and operated the strawberry and pumpkin patch. As people came up, Brother Max greeted them with a smile and often pointed them in the areas for the best berry-picking prospects during the spring.
People would often comment to Brother Max that they remembered him coming to one of their ballgames in their youth or that he even baptized them.
Brother Max enjoyed visiting with people. After a quick talk with Brother Max, it didn’t matter if a person picked a bucket of strawberries or found “just-the-right” pumpkin or not, because he or she felt something else, something more long-lasting. They felt Brother Max’s love.
“He just has a way of connecting with people,” McLean said. “It didn’t matter who you were, Brother Max, he just cared about you. He was always thinking about other people.”
Even after a vehicle struck him in the Marble Falls High School parking lot in 2011 as he was walking along, Brother Max expressed his concern for the driver, more than of himself.
“He really did care for people,” Dan Copeland said. “When God said, ‘Love your neighbor,’ that’s what he did.”
Over the years, the community honored the man in several ways. The Marble Falls Independent School District named the high school gymnasium after him. The district also allotted a red stadium seat in both the gym and the new Mustang Stadium for Brother Max. Along with his love for others, he was known for his red suspenders and red socks (it got to the point he even had to special order some red socks.) In 2013, First Baptist Church of Marble Falls recognized him and Glenna for their more than 50 years of ministry.
McLean struggled through his emotions to talk about his longtime friend.
“I guess he was just the most legendary figure in all of Marble Falls. He never hurt anyone, and he never said a negative thing about anyone,” McLean said. “Marble Falls will never be the same place again.”
Services for Brother Max are planned for 2 p.m. May 29 at First Baptist Church, 501 12th St. in Marble Falls.