Copeland named Citizen of the Year

Copeland Citizen of Year
Former Anna Maria Mayor Fran Barford presented Pat Copeland, right, with the city’s Citizen of the Year award on Thursday, Dec. 28. Several family members and friends attended the presentation at city hall and Copeland was at a loss for words after receiving the award. - Joe Hendricks | Sun

ANNA MARIA – Longtime city resident and retired Anna Maria Island reporter Pat Copeland is the city of Anna Maria’s 2017 Citizen of the Year.

Copeland was presented with the award and honored with a reception on Thursday, Dec. 28 at 5:30 p.m. at Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive.

The biography included with Copeland’s nomination notes she earned her college degree in English and history. She and her husband, Doug Copeland, moved to the Island in 1974 and she later gave birth to their two daughters, Layla and Anna.

In 1981, Copeland was asked to write a weekly column for the Bradenton Herald’s Island Herald. That launched an Island-based journalism career that eventually led Copeland to The Anna Maria Island Sun in 2000, where she worked as a reporter until she retired at the end of 2016. She continues to work one day a week as a copy editor for The Sun.

Copeland and her friend, Carolyne Norwood, founded the Anna Maria Island Historical Society and the Anna Maria Island Historical Museum 27 years ago and Copeland remains actively involved in preserving the history of the Island. She plans to work on a book that will serve as a followup to Norwood’s “Tales of the Three Cities,” which chronicled the Island’s history from 1940 to 1970.

Additional nominees

John Chambers and Ruth Uecker also were nominated, as were Mayor Dan Murphy and the entire city staff.

Chambers was nominated for the volunteer financial and investment advice he provided Murphy and the city this year and in past years. Earlier this year, Chambers conducted a comprehensive review of The Center of Anna Maria Island’s financial records at the mayor’s request. His advice has significantly reduced the city’s interest payments on the City Pier Park property.

Uecker was nominated for her work as a food pantry volunteer and her volunteer work with Manatee County Animal Services and the annual Symphony on the Sand concert. Uecker spent six years as an organizer of the Food & Wine on Pine event. She also served on the city’s City Park Committee.

This year she lobbied the Florida Legislature as part of her tireless advocacy for Anna Maria’s home rule rights as they pertain to the local regulation of short-term rentals.

City Commissioner Brian Seymour nominated Murphy and the entire city staff as his citizens of the year.

“This year has been extremely challenging and the mayor and staff have risen above all expectations,” Seymour wrote on the nomination form.

The volunteer members of the Citizen of the Year Committee determined this year’s winner.