CONNIE SWINNEY • PICAYUNE STAFF
MARBLE FALLS — When the community memorialized Max Collier Copeland, 85, on May 29, loved ones and leaders emphasized how he lived in service for others and to spread the gospel.
“We’re here to celebrate a life well lived,” said Charles H. Hundley at the pulpit during the memorial service at First Baptist Church of Marble Falls. “He was a spiritual leader.”
Copeland, well known in the community as “Brother Max,” died May 25 with Glenna, his wife of 57 years, by his side.
More than 1,000 people attended his funeral service, which was held in the sanctuary and live-streamed to an overflow crowd in the church fellowship hall and youth center.
Hundley, superintendent of Marble Falls Independent School District from 1976 to 1983, described how Brother Max was known “as the man with the red socks.”
He also wore red suspenders and was a fixture at MFISD youth athletic sports, events and activities, attending thousands through the years as the district’s most faithful fan.
Brother Max was pastor of First Baptist Church for 42 years until he retired in 2000 and served as pastor emeritus for 16 more years.
Hundley shared his years knowing and corresponding with the late pastor, whom he considered a friend.
“His entire life he ministered and did everything he could, doing what he could to urge people along life’s way,” Hundley said. “Max Copeland was strong because he loved and feared the Lord.”
Hundley provided insight into Copeland’s roots, including how his early education and family life shaped the preacher.
Copeland studied scripture, history and literature at Baylor University in Waco, where he graduated in 1951.
He continued advanced studies at Southwestern Baptist Seminary and graduated in 1956.
“He was a lifelong learner and becoming what he was capable of becoming under the guide of the Holy Spirit,” Hundley said. “He was strong in scholarship. He would study things, analyze them and talk to both sides, and come up with a well-thought and wise conclusion.”
He exemplified strength, which he exhibited in community service, family, ministry and faith.
“He was strong in community service,” Hundley said. “He loved people, whether they were Baptist or not Baptists.”
Copeland was the son of a Baptist minister and devoted mother, Walter and Bessie Copeland. He grew up in North Texas and became a preacher at 16.
“Max was strong in his family,” Hundley said. “He grew up the beneficiary of a Christian home.”
During the services, loved ones and community leaders shared experiences about Brother Max, offering insight into his personality, relationship with the community and his ministry.
Through the years, he baptized thousands of his flock, officiated at countless weddings and funerals, ministered at the county jail and the bedsides of dying loved ones and supported families struggling with illness and crises.
One fond memory involved visiting, assisting and ministering to children at a black church, where he recalled crossing paths with the children as adults.
“They told Brother Max, ‘You gave us apples, oranges and John 3:16,’” Hundley said.
Former Burnet County judge and past school board president Martin McLean attended countless sporting events with Copeland.
He recalled how Brother Max tried to calm him as he became publicly vocal and critical of the officiating crew at a basketball game.
At first, Brother Max implored him to calm down and remember that he’s a respected judge in the community.
Soon after, Brother Max jumped up, turned to McLean and said, “You’re right!” and began exclaiming his discontent toward the officials as well.
“I lived in Marble Falls a long time, and I lived here with Brother Max down the street a ways. I’m not sure if this town will ever be the same,” McLean said. “They should be grateful for Brother Max.”
Max Copeland Gymnasium at Marble Falls High School is named for the late pastor.
First Baptist Church of Marble Falls Pastor Ross Chandler spoke at the service and described the lasting influence of Brother Max’s legacy.
“He was great in his simplicity and great in his commitment to the humanity to all who lived around the Highland Lakes,” Chandler said.
Chandler asked for a show of hands from those for whom Brother Max had officiated a wedding, a funeral or a baptism.
Nearly all hands were raised in the sanctuary.
“Stories of great people continue to impact you,” Chandler said. “He’s continuing to light up our lives.”
Copeland is survived by his wife, Glenna, and his three adult children, Dathan, MaxAnne and Dan, their families and several great-grandchildren.
Chandler thanked the Copeland family for the spiritual leader’s legacy due to all the times he was absent from home because he was helping a family in the community.
“Thank you so much for sharing your husband and father with us,” Chandler said. “You helped him to love us. You have our undying gratitude.”
Brother Max was laid to rest at Lakeland Hills Memorial Park on Park Road 4, just north of Marble Falls.
The family requests that memorial contributions be made to the First Baptist Church Benevolence Fund, 501 12th St., Marble Falls, TX 78654.