Copeland - Plefka
Family Reunion
June 3, 2007

My Natural father was identified in September of 2006 and I subsequently came to know that I had a younger brother and three sisters living in Cleveland, Ohio. Another sister, Jean (Copeland) Rutzen had been born to Eternal life in July of 2006. This page describe the trip taken with two of my children to meet our Copeland family in Cleveland.

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Copeland - Plefka
Family Reunion
June 3, 2007

I have been given a treasure beyond measure in family and friends and it expands all the time. There was an explosion of wealth of family when I was finally able to
(((HUG))) my little sisters Rita, Irene and Marilyn as well as my younger brother John. I also met nieces and nephews, spouses and girlfriends and a couple children.

Saturday morning I packed a bag and took Mikey to the Albano's, leaving Mikey there with his bed and picking up Anne Marie. A five minute drive brought us to Tom's where he joined us on our journey. My intention was to drive all the way to Cleveland to prove to them (and myself) that I could do it and possibly make other trips without dragging them away from their families and busy schedules. I failed. I soon realized that I at the least, needed someone in the car to help me negotiate the complicated interchanges. At the first rest stop I was happy to relinquish the wheel to Tom for the rest of the trip. Thanks to MapQuest we had no problem finding our hotel and had a little time to relax before going to Jim and Peggy's (Cecora) for a visit.

My big brother's wife had invited family over to join us for the evening and the drinks and food were ready in the back yard. Ted and Gay (Cousins) were there. They brought the bronze plate that my great grandfather Henry Sheppard Packard had made after crafting the mold. It is a large dish, about 14" in diameter with the likeness of a lady in the center and a delicate floral design on the rest of the plate. The workmanship was beautiful. It is quite thick and heavy. I believe his occupation was making molds for cast iron stoves which of course were embellished with this type of design but this was a 'special' piece made for his own enjoyment. It is now a family treasure. Gay promises to take a picture of it and send it to me. I don't know why I didn't get my camera from the car and photographic it myself. My niece Sarah was there along with her husband John and their sons. We also met John's parents.

Rain soon drove us inside but didn't dampen our spirits as we enjoyed grilled shrimp & scallops, BBQ ribs, chicken, slaw, pasta and salad. I keep telling my big brother Jim that Peggy is a "keeper". Our delightful Saturday evening with the Cecora clan set the tone for the weekend and would continue on to Sunday.

The plan was to meet the Cecora's for breakfast and then go to mass with them but the start of breakfast was delayed and we were too late for the last Mass. That was OK because our table was along the wall of the restaurant and I noticed that half our group was sitting on a church pew. I was then told that the pew actually came from their church as a result of a remodeling project. And so breakfast was a religious experience, one of several for the day.

After a short recess at the hotel to refresh and change gears we were ready to meet my father's familys. Carrie Cerino's Ristorante was easy to find and a beautiful place. I immediately recognized the Copeland family waiting for us in the spacious entry area. We were welcomed with open arms that quickly closed around us in big (((HUGS))) that went with the broad smiles. Self introductions ensued all around. We had a wonderful lunch/dinner and started trading family information and stories. Present were my brother John and sisters Marilyn and Irene. Both Rita and John have health problems which prevented them from joining us but their children were there as wall as other family members. We were in a two level room and had the top level to ourselves at one long table.

On the way from the restaurant to Rita & John's house Tom remarked at how wonderful they all were and how they were so much like us. I replied that that didn't surprise me ... it's in the genes. At Rita and John's (Barilla) house the open arm greeting was repeated. There were deserts galore for every possible taste but my attention went right to the big round kolatchky (koláčky) just like my mom made many many years ago. I asked who made them and was informed that it was my sister Irene. When I said that she was now my favorite sister the other two promptly told me that they also made them and so ... I have three favorite sisters. Their mother, Sue Polinchek, was the source of their knowledge of much the same food that I was raised on as the child of Bohemian (adoptive) parents. Sue also brought the Catholic faith to the family. I will have to learn more about her and her roots.

When I said that I wanted to take some photos, cameras popped up all over and we all made our way out to the front lawn and the photo session began. We grouped and regrouped and I think everyone managed to photograph and be photographed. In addition to my brother and his girlfriend Liz, my sisters and Rita's husband John, there was John's son Jon and his girlfriend Justine. There were Rita and John's daughters, Judy with Jack (Woodards) & daughter Janelle, Kathy (Kisel) and her little boy. (I need to learn his name.) Rita and John's son Mark and wife Jeanne were also there. Jan Webb, the daughter of my deceased sister Jean (Rutzen) was there with husband Dave. Not all family members could be there. I hope I got this all correct! If not, someone ... please correct me. (I often need correction.) The Family Photo and Cousins photo are interactive enabling the viewer to identify the individuals.

   Family Photo


When I was preparing the photo slide show I realized that we missed a great opportunity to get photos of family groups. My prime concern was to get the picture of me with my newly found brother and sisters. That mission was accomplished. I was too excited to think much beyond that. I have the email addresses of my brother John's boys and I invite my other new nieces' and nephew to send their address to me so we can keep in touch. I have also asked Marilyn to bring me up to date on birthdates as well as the names of the grandchildren of my Copeland siblings.

As we spoke about this and that, ... family and experiences, ... likes and dislikes, it was obvious that we are family. There were several coincidences such as the fact that I started school at Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Chicago and they started school at Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Cleveland. Both have since closed. My sister Irene worked in the Chicago area on two occasions, once downtown and once in a Northwestern suburb, the name of which she didn't remember. But she remembered that it was within a block of the big hotel near the crossroads of the Northwest expressway and Rout 53. I realized it must have been very close to the Kelso-Burnett office where I worked in Rolling Meadows near the Holiday Inn. Our office was on Newport Dr. and the only other street there is Tollview Dr.

I discovered that our grandfather, Harvey Louis Copeland was a veteran of the Spanish-American War. He lived in a community of homes which was set aside for veterans of that war. When I went to add this information to the "Copeland" page I realized that we had a photo of Harvey in uniform but had not known the dates of his service.

The day with our Copeland family began at the restaurant at 1:30 and ended at Rita and John's close to 10:00. Tom, Anne Marie and I relaxed in our sitting room at the hotel for a while longer, reveling in the day, trying to absorb the wonder of it all. I laid awake from 11 to about 1 AM too keyed up to sleep. I finally dropped off into a sound sleep of joy and satisfaction. Anne Marie woke me at 9 AM.

Peggy had called Tom's room Sunday evening suggesting that we meet for breakfast before heading home so Monday morning Anne Marie called her. Peggy and Jim were anxious to know how our meeting with the Copeland's had gone. We met her and Jim, had a good breakfast and talk and set out for home. I owe a lot to Peggy since after we found the identity of my father she located the Copeland family members for me and made the initial contact. We stumbled a bit in our approach but we were new to the situation and we know we are forgiven. Knowing that there is no blood connection between the Cecora's and the Copeland's I would still hope that they could meet and becomes friends. If nothing else, they could talk about me. But, ... there are other connections that may go all the way back to the Massachusetts Colonies. On the Copeland side my grandmother was a Thayer. On my mother's side, my grandmother was a Packard. The book on Mayflower Families records intermarriage between the Copeland, Packard and Thayer families. Besides, Peggy and Marilyn both have an interest in genealogy. Maybe they can compare notes.

I could not be happier with the Cecora's and the Copeland's. They are not only kin but kindred spirits. I only wish I had the opportunity to meet my mother and father so I could have said thanks and let them know how their (accidental) offspring turned out. But ... I am sure they know that now. (Thank you, God.)

Harry Ronald Cecora
(AKA Donald J Plefka)

The following story is the story of birth, adoption, searching and the finding of roots and branches. It is my story.

Journey to ...

The Story of Harry Ronald Cecora
The Letter from Catholic Charities
Adoption Decree
Mystery Solved - June 17, 2006
Also see "Human Life" for an important aspect of my life.

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