Chuck Copeland may be as close as can be to our community’s unofficial “Everyman, Everywhere.” A lifelong resident, he’s had a hand in many of the Beaver Area’s enduring initiatives and landmarks. Locals have nicknamed him “MacGyver,” reflecting the protagonist in a 1980s television show who could solve the most impossible problems in a ridiculously short amount of time.

Chuck’s childhood home was on Fourth Street, and he says that “I’m so glad I grew up here.” He is a 1970 alumnus of Beaver Area High School and a 1974 graduate of Penn State University. From there Chuck’s life and career branched into a web of fascinating tentacles that continue today. Here are 10 essential things to know.

20,000 Photos
Chuck thinks visually. He has nearly 20,000 photographs and videos on his iPhone and often uses one or more to make a point. The phone is clipped to his belt, always at the ready for deployment. He received his first movie camera at age four on a vacation, and his first still camera was a Yashica using square film measuring 2¼ x 2¼ inches. In 1979, he was elected president of the Beaver County Camera Club, which held salon competitions and organized field trips.

Streetscape/Clock Tower
Circa 2002, to celebrate Beaver’s bicentennial, Chuck helped implement the $3.5 million “Streetscape” vision for the business district. It ranged from placing electrical utilities underground and eliminating parking meters to installing one million sidewalk bricks, improving traffic signals, adding attractive lampposts and benches, and creating a flag plaza. He also monitored construction in Kentucky of the 1877 county courthouse clock tower replica featuring a gracefully curved cupola sheathed in copper, with traditional Victorian trimmings, Westminster chimes, and upbeat music.

Clerk of the Works –
Among the area’s best assets are its schools, which educate our youth and provide important “curb appeal” attractiveness. In the creation of Dutch Ridge Elementary in 2003-2004, and renovation of the College Square Elementary in 2009, he was engaged as project manager – “clerk of the works,” in the words of superintendent Dr. Betty Sue Schaughency – managing $26.4 million in construction. Today, the buildings remain essential.

Heritage Foundation
Chuck has been active for decades with the Beaver Area Heritage Foundation in shaping its award-winning facilities. He coordinated construction contracts and assisted with fundraising for conversion of the former Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad freight station into the museum in 1998 – the 1802 log house as an education center in 2002 – and restoration of the P&LE passenger station into Beaver Station Cultural and Event Center in 2011-2015, today playing an advisory role. The foundation is named as a beneficiary in Chuck’s estate plan.

Lord Belvedere
Chuck brokered the 2012 acquisition by crane of the third-floor witch’s hat roof from the soon-to-be-demolished Cunningham House on Beaver Street, eventually becoming the top of the landmark “Belvedere” bandstand at Beaver Station. The iconic structure has been the site of many events as well as concerts by the legendary Donnie Iris, Joe Grushecky, and the Granati Brothers. “Many thought we were crazy to save this old roof,” says Dave O’Leary, chair of the Station operating committee, “but Chuck had a vision and the Belvedere is now a key element in attracting outdoor weddings and receptions to Beaver.”

Borough Manager
From 2012 to 2016, Chuck served the public as Beaver Borough manager. In this role, he primarily managed a major program of water and service-line upgrades. He also led installation of sidewalks in the central parks using a team of all-volunteer labor. A tree has been planted in the parks in his honor. 

Beaver County Foundation
A disciple of the late fundraising guru, Charles “Chick” O’Data, Chuck today is executive director of the Beaver County Foundation, established in 1992 with a $25,000 bequest from the will of Benjamin Franklin. Its nearly $10 million endowment supports many worthwhile causes. Says Chuck, “The Foundation offers an excellent opportunity for individuals and families who have been successful in their lives to share their financial success with young people in furthering their continued education through scholarships.”

Home Sweet Home
Residential improvement has always a core passion. He traces that to age 12, when he drove his Bantam tractor-trailer to Cook Anderson lumber company to obtain materials for a new concrete ramp at home. Then in college, he constructed the family’s future residence in Windy Ghoul. Today he has an elevator and darkroom in the dwelling. With a specialty in electronics and technology, he has assisted dozens of families in upgrading their homes.

Cars, Cars, Cars
Chuck is an unabashed automobile enthusiast. His first vehicle, a high school graduation gift from his parents, was a seafoam green, 1959 Thunderbird convertible, which he still owns. He praises the T-bird’s power, smooth ride, elegant lines and avant-garde styling. “Nobody builds cars like that,” he says. His first post-college employment was selling Fords for the Beglin dealership. Chuck has added Mustangs, Mavericks, Lincolns and Rangers to his collection, and his personal business card features a photo of him with the fleet. 

Always seeking inventive solutions to physical plant problems, Chuck has powered his weekend getaway cabin in the Venango County mountains with electricity generated by water from a creek on the property. He remains immensely proud of this accomplishment. His license plate H2O NRG is an acronym for “water energy.” ν

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