Former DeKalb School Board member Sarah Copelin-Wood has died

Sarah Copelin-Wood served on the DeKalb County School Board for 15 years.

Family, friends and former colleagues will celebrate the life of former DeKalb School Board member Sarah Copelin-Wood at a viewing on Aug. 22  and a homegoing service on Aug. 23 at the Donald Trimble Funeral Home in Decatur.

The viewing takes place noon to 10 p.m. on Wednesday.

Thursday’s homegoing service starts at 1 p.m.

Copelin-Wood, who served 15 years on the DeKalb County School Board, and decades on the DeKalb NAACP Executive Board, died Aug. 16 at her Decatur home.

She was 72.

The funeral home is at 1876 2nd Ave. in  Decatur.

Friends described Copelin-Wood as a warrior for children, and an ardent community advocate.

Zepora Roberts, a former DeKalb School board member who served with her at the NAACP, said that whether you agreed with her or not, Copelin-Wood’s heart was always in the right place.

“There was no denying that that Sarah loved the children and her community,” Roberts  said, “What she did, she did it for community. She always meant well. You may not like it, but she had a purpose.”

Copelin-Wood was elected to the Board of Education in 1998 and served until 2013. During her 15-year tenure, she was elected to chair the board in January 2004 and served as vice chair from 1999-2003.

A DeKalb County resident for more than 30 years, Copelin-Wood was the founder and chief executive director of the South DeKalb Community Development Corp., a nonprofit organization created by the community in 1994 to address the concerns of citizens living in southeast DeKalb.

Before her election to the School Board, Copelin-Wood was president of the McNair Senior High School PTSA and secretary of the McNair Junior High School PTA while her children attended those schools.

An active advocate, she served on the Sisterhood Leadership Committee of Beulah Missionary Baptist Church; MARTA Collaborative Task Force and Technical Advisory Committee; DeKalb Rape Crisis Center; National Council of Negro Women; American Business Women’s Association, the Rainbow International Chapter, and the Georgia Department of Labor Minority Advisory Board.

She was a member of the School Board's Education’s Growth Information and Management Community Task Force for the penny tax referendum. 

In 2015, Copelin-Wood, who coordinated the DeKalb NAACP's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade, received the chapter's John Evans Lifetime Achievement Award.

Copelin-Wood’s school board tenure came to an end in 2013, when Gov. Nathan Deal removed the majority of the board’s members in the wake of SACS placing the School District on accreditation probation in December 2012 for governance and other issues.

Dr. Melvin Johnson, who worked with the district and served on the School Board after Copelin-Wood, said she will be remembered for her devotion to children.

“I applaud her for her commitment to serving boys and girls,” he said.

Thomakia Copelin said her mother’s life was about education and the community.

“She had a real strong will and if she believed it she was going to get it done,” she said. “I loved her will power.”

Copelin-Wood is also survived by daughters Linda Copelin and Joyce Tripp, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.