Olathe community gathers to say goodbye to Mayor Michael Copeland

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OLATHE, Kan. — The Olathe community and beyond gathered Friday to say farewell to Mayor Michael Copeland, who died last week at the age of 58.

A dedicated public servant, he was the city’s longest serving mayor, leading the city for nearly 20 years after several years on the city council.

“Mike was a good man, built a lot of good relationships here in the town and worked tirelessly for our community,” said Vernon Avante, a supporter of Copeland’s.

His visitation and funeral were held Friday at College Church of the Nazarene in Olathe where family and friends gathered to speak about his legacy.

Under Copeland’s leadership, Olathe grew by nearly 50,000 people, added 18 parks and 29 miles of trails.

Irene Caudillo, president and CEO of El Centro, will remember Copeland for his dedication to children.

“The biggest memory is him wanting to make sure that we took care of our children and starting the Mayors Children’s Fund and saying, ‘What is it that we can do to help?’ and having all of us not only around the table but really supporting our kids in the community,” she said.

At Friday’s funeral service, Mid-America Nazarene University announced an award in his name. The Copeland Leadership Award will honor students who go on to serve their community the same was the late mayor did.

After the funeral, members of the Olathe police and fire departments led a procession to Copeland’s final resting place ahead of a private graveside service.

Gov. Laura Kelly issued an executive order lowering flags to half-staff throughout the city of Olathe on Friday.

“I offer my condolences to the mayor’s family, friends, and loved ones during this incredibly difficult time,” the governor said in a news release. “As we mourn his loss, let us remember and celebrate his impactful legacy on the city of Olathe and the state of Kansas.”

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