UNCSA Logo' 

Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013 (For Immediate Release)
Media Contact: Marla Carpenter, 336-414-9289 (cell)


WINSTON-SALEM – The University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) community is mourning the loss of founder and longtime supporter Helen Copenhaver “Copey” Hanes (Mrs. James Gordon Hanes), who died early this morning. She was 96.

“She was one of a kind,” said UNCSA Founder and Trustee Emeritus Thomas S. Kenan III. “Irreplaceable.”

UNCSA Chancellor Emeritus Alex C. Ewing said, “Copey Hanes, no matter who she was with or what she was doing, was always herself: warm, friendly, interested. She was a great lady and a wonderful chum. The very best of Winston-Salem.”

Copey Hanes

Mrs. Hanes supported the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in many ways. Her husband, the late James Gordon Hanes, served as a state senator during the 1960s and introduced the legislation that established the North Carolina School of the Arts in 1963. In 1964, Mrs. Hanes and other volunteers helped to organize a phone bank that called almost every phone number in Winston-Salem, raising more than $850,000 to ensure that Winston-Salem would be the future home of the School of the Arts.

Mrs. Hanes served on the UNCSA Board of Trustees as a UNC Board of Governors appointee from 1989-93, and was a founding and longtime member of the UNCSA Board of Visitors and an emerita member at the time of her death.

She was a charter lifetime member of the UNCSA Giannini Society, and was a member of the Founders Society, the Encore Society, and the Chancellor’s Circle at the school. She also served on Giannini Society gala and Stevens Center gala opening committees.

Mrs. Hanes received an honorary degree from UNCSA in 2003, and she and her husband (posthumously) received the Giannini Society Award in 2006.

She and her husband commissioned a sculpture of dancers for the school that stands in front of Performance Place on the campus at 1533 S. Main St., Winston-Salem.

In addition, Mrs. Hanes and her husband helped rebuild the school’s sculpture studio after it burned and requested that it be named for the late Martha Dunigan, a School of Design and Production Visual Arts Program faculty emerita.

Helen Greever Copenhaver grew up in Marion, Va., where her father, a Lutheran minister, the Rev. Eldridge Copenhaver, served as interim president of then-Marion College, a Lutheran women’s junior college, during the Depression. The family lived on campus, and Mrs. Hanes completed two years there before attending Wittenberg College in Springfield, Ohio, where her father had earlier received an honorary doctorate of divinity.

After graduating from Wittenberg, she studied voice and drama at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and later taught music and dramatic arts.

Her love of the arts came naturally, and she grew up in an environment that nurtured those interests. “It seems I always studied piano and voice,” Mrs. Hanes once said. “My mother was musical, and we loved dramatics.”

From Chapel Hill, Mrs. Hanes moved to Winston-Salem in 1940 to teach voice and drama at Salem Academy and College, and was known to say that she was then “bitten by the Moravian bug.”

She met and, in 1941, married James Gordon Hanes, Jr., President and CEO of the Hanes Corporation. The Haneses had three children: James “Jim” G. Hanes, III; Eldridge “Redge” Hanes; and Margaret Drewry Nostitz (Mrs. Christoph Nostitz). Gordon Hanes died in 1995.

Mrs. Hanes was actively involved in arts and civic organizations locally and across the state throughout her lifetime. She was instrumental in the founding of the School of the Arts, Old Salem Museum and Gardens, the Winston-Salem Symphony, and the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. She was a trustee or board member of Salem Academy and College, the Moravian Music Foundation, and the N.C. Museum of Art in Raleigh. She supported many organizations including Senior Services, Crisis Control Ministry, Habitat for Humanity and Reynolda House Museum of American Art. She established the Centenary Scholarship Endowment Fund at Duke Divinity School, scholarships to The Outdoor Academy of the Southern Appalachians, and numerous endowed funds at UNCSA.

Her work was recognized with a variety of honors and awards, including the Arts Council Award, the Alumni Citation from Wittenberg College, the Katharine Reynolds Johnston League Legacy Award from the Junior League of Winston-Salem, and the Archie K. Davis Award from the Wachovia Historical Society. She also was inducted into the North Carolina Women’s Hall of Fame.

For her 90th birthday, she chose to celebrate by bringing Van Cliburn as a guest artist to perform in a concert with the Winston-Salem Symphony.

Mrs. Hanes was also well known as a Winston-Salem ambassador. “It’s a lovely place to live – a cultural center,” Mrs. Hanes once said. “They’re always accusing me of working for the Chamber of Commerce.”

A family graveside service will be held in Salem Cemetery at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 31, followed by a memorial service at Centenary United Methodist Church at 11 a.m.  The family will receive close friends and family at the home of Redge and Jane Hanes from 4 until 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 30, and also at the church following the memorial service. Online condolences may be sent to www.salemfh.com.

Gifts to honor the memory of Mrs. Helen Copenhaver Hanes may be made to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts Scholarship Fund: UNCSA Foundation, Inc., 1533 S. Main Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27127.