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Emilea Smith Copeland Honors Son's Memory With Planned Gift for Scholarships

Emilea Smith Copeland

Emilea Smith Copeland

When Emilea Copeland graduated from high school in 1960, she knew she would be headed to Jacksonville State University for her education degree.

"My parents thought it would be an excellent and safe place for me for my first time away from home. I was only 17 and it was such a friendly happy place," she says.

She received her B.S. in Secondary Education in three years, graduating in 1963.

"My years at JSU were the best years of my life up to that point. JSU prepared me for teaching very well. As soon as I graduated, I got married, had two children and then taught middle school," she says.

While teaching and being a mom, Emilea also went to the University of Alabama at Birmingham and received a master's degree in Library Media, K-12. With this new certification, she worked at Erwin Elementary School as the K-6 media specialist.

It was her desire to honor her late son's memory that drove Emilea to establish the Rex Copeland Memorial Scholarship.

"My son was just 20 years old when he was killed. He was a junior in pre-law when he died. I wanted his life to be meaningful so I started the scholarship to help young people financially at JSU," she says. "How happy Rex would be to help someone with college education expenses. He was that kind of young man."

She has since added to the scholarship by making a provision in her will and life insurance policy to endow the fund so that the Rex Copeland Memorial Scholarship will help young people at the university in perpetuity. Not only will it help JSU students, but it helps Emilea as well.

"Establishing the scholarship helped me get beyond this. My life and Rex's life will have been meaningful," she says.

The scholarship benefits students in their junior year who have good grades and who graduated from the Birmingham City School system in Jefferson County, Alabama, just like Rex Copeland.

This is not Emilea's first gift to the university.

"We didn't have a lot of money, but I was always an alumni member and gave to the School of Education each year. JSU has come a long way in helping young people get an excellent education and in becoming professional people," she says.

She thinks that all alumni should give back to help the university improve.

"When that student calls each year, every alum should answer with a gift. It will keep our school strong and growing," she says.

Emily stays involved with JSU by serving on the School of Education Board of Visitors, which she believes helps the education curriculum remain current. She also attends athletics events whenever possible.

"My strongest ties are my memories there," she says. "I have worked with fine people at the university—the employees and the professors. I always knew in my heart that I would fund a scholarship when I could. Doing this in honor of Rex has been the most important thing in my life."

Earl Warren, JSU Director of University Development, says of the scholarship gift: "I have known Emily Copeland for many years and I am gratified that this scholarship in memory of Rex will benefit JSU students for years to come."

Honor Someone Special With a Gift to JSU
Like Emilea Copeland, you can make a gift to JSU in honor of someone special in your life. Contact Earl Warren at or 256-782-5608 to learn more.

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Jacksonville State University a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to Jacksonville State University, a nonprofit corporation currently located at Jacksonville, AL, or its successor thereto, ______________ [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to the Foundation or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to the Foundation as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to the Foundation as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and the Foundation where you agree to make a gift to the Foundation and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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