Burdell Joseph Coplan, age 84, passed away on Thursday, November 8, 2012 at Sanford Canton-Inwood Hospital, following a strong and courageous battle with cancer as Jesus took him home to be by his side. Funeral services will be at 10:00 a.m. Monday, Nov. 12, at Canton Lutheran Church, with burial at Forest Hill Cemetery. Visitation will be Sunday from 2 – 8:00 p.m. at Canton Lutheran Church. Family will greet visitors from 5 – 7:00 p.m. A prayer service will begin at 7:00 p.m.
Burdell was born January 13, 1928 in Watertown, SD, to Joseph and Ella (David) Coplan. He graduated from Watertown High School in 1946. Burdell proudly served his country during both WWII and the Korean War. While serving, he played football for the US Army. He played in the Rice Bowl game in Yokohama, Japan on New Year’s Day in 1947. Following his discharge, he attended USD at Vermillion, SD, graduating in 1952. While at USD, he played football for the Coyotes, helping win the 1951 North Central Conference Title. He was named to the USD 1950’s team of the decade as a defensive back.
Burdell was united in marriage to Betty Lou Berg on June 8, 1952. They moved to Canton in 1955, where ‘Cop’ taught and coached for 35 years. He retired in 1990. During his career he coached football, basketball, track, and served as Athletic Director. His successful football coaching career resulted in: a record of 228 wins, 81 losses, 9 ties, seven undefeated seasons, 15 conference championships, and winning the Class 11A State Championship in 1986. He received many coaching awards which included: National High School Football Coach of the Year, 4 time National Regional High School Football Coach of the Year, the S.D. High School Athletic Association Distinguished Service Award, and was the S.D. Coach of the Year 11 times. Coach was inducted into many hall of fames, including: National High School Coaches Hall of Fame, S.D. High School Coaches Hall of Fame, USD Hall of Fame, S.D. Football Coaches Hall of Fame, S.D. Athletic Directors Hall of Fame, Watertown High School Athletic Hall of Fame, S.D. Sports Hall of Fame, SDIAAA Hall of Fame, and was named to the S.D. High School Coaches Association’s Hall of Excellence. In 1995, the athletic complex at Canton was named Coplan Field in his honor.
Burdell and his wife, Betty, started the local chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes holding meetings in their home. He was a member of Canton Lutheran Church and Canton Lion’s Club. He served as a Lincoln County Commissioner for 16 years and was a probation officer for many years. He and Betty owned and operated the Canton Greenhouse from 1980 to 1990. Cop was an avid hunter since age 12. He missed the opening of pheasant season 4 years, three times while in Korea and this past opening. He regularly attended many local athletic games and events since his retirement. Coach has remained in close contact with many of his former players and fellow coaches. He was known for his good sense of humor, outstanding memory, his love of telling stories and reminiscing about the old days. He enjoyed working and helping on the farm. He was a devoted grandpa and loved spending time with his grandkids.
Those grateful for having shared his life are: his wife of 60 years, Betty; two daughters- Elizabeth Slack of Chippewa Falls, WI and Patty Kroger of Canton, SD; two grandchildren- Lindsey Woodford and Madeline Kroger; great-grandson, Hunter Woodford; brother, Arlo (Nancy) Coplan of Greendale, WI; along with numerous cousins, nieces, nephews, and many dear friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents, sister Maythel Dahl, brother Elwood Coplan, and grandson Seth Kroger.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Canton Booster Club in Burdell’s honor.