North Carolina School of the Arts with Logo
School of Dance School of Design and Production School of Dance School of Filmmaking School of Music Visual Arts Academic Programs Student Life apply search ncsahome
Administration Links
 General Information

In Memoriam:

Copey Hanes




(Dec. 28, 2013) 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.”

With Alex Ewing


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.


Accepting Giannini Award in New York


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.


With former School of Dance Deans Robert Lindgren and Ethan Stiefel


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.


With son Redge Hanes


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

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. 


With Mary Semans

With Selwa "Lucky" Roosevelt



With June Ficklen


With Libba Evans





Oct 02, 1917 - Dec 28, 2013
Forsyth County, NC


A long and beautiful journey is over. Helen Copenhaver Hanes, known to her many friends and family as Copey, has become reunited with her life’s companion, James Gordon Hanes Jr.

Her life began on October 2nd 1917 and ended on December 28th 2013. She was born in Marion, Virginia to Margaret Greever Copenhaver and the Rev. Eldridge Hawkins Copenhaver, and was preceded in death by her parents, her sister Margaret Sue Copenhaver, and her beloved husband Gordon Hanes.

She graduated from Marion College and Whittenberg University. She studied voice and drama at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and subsequently taught those subjects at Salem Academy and College. She married Gordon Hanes on August 30, 1941 and lived for a short time during WWII in Wheeling, West Virginia. Following the end of WWII she and Gordon returned to Winston-Salem where she has lived for the past seventy years. Her entire adult life was dedicated to making her city, her state and her nation a better and more beautiful place. Raised a devout Lutheran, Copey joined the Methodist Church on moving to Winston-Salem and was a devoted member of Centenary United Methodist for the rest of her life.

She has always insisted that her obituary be short and sweet, but a life so well lived begs to be honored. She served on the board of directors of numerous institutions both in Winston-Salem and the state of North Carolina. A few examples being the Southeastern Center of Contemporary Art, Salem College, Moravian Music foundation, Old Salem, the Winston-Salem Symphony, the board of visitors of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, the Downtown Arts School, and Brevard Music Festival. She received awards and recognition from many of these institutions as well as being inducted into the North Carolina Women’s Hall of Fame.

For many years, Copey carried in her purse, a copy of The Marion Ideal, the statement of purpose of Marion College, of which her father, Rev. Eldridge Copenhaver was president.
The Marion Ideal stated:

“To care for what is, rather than for what seems; to be loyal to what is best in the traditions of the past and yet open to the discoveries of the present and the hopes of the future; to find freedom in knowledge of the truth, beauty in the common sphere of daily living; joy in love and friendship, and strength in constructive service; to play happily and work honestly; to believe in God and God’s children; and to serve where service is most needed…this is the ideal of Marion College.”

Anyone who knew her would say that Copey tried every day of her life to live up to this ideal.
She is survived by her children, sons, James Gordon Hanes 111 and his wife Jane Lawrence Hanes; Eldridge C. Hanes and his wife Jane Grenley Hanes; and daughter, Drewry Hanes Nostitz and her husband Christoph Nostitz; six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
A family graveside service will be held in Salem Cemetery at 10:00 AM on Tuesday December 31st followed by a memorial service at Centenary United Methodist Church at 11:00 AM. The family will receive close friends and family at the home of Redge and Jane Hanes 4:00 until 6:00 pm on Monday December 30th, and also at the church following the Memorial Service.

The family is especially grateful for the exceptional care provided by Vickie Cuthrell and the aides of Piedmont Home Health Care. They are also indebted to the personnel and the superb assistance at the Kate B. Reynolds Hospice Home. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: Salem College scholarship fund; the Winston-Salem Symphony; Moravian Music Foundation; The University of North Carolina School of the Arts scholarship fund; and Crisis Control Ministry. Online condolences may be sent to



Media Coverage:

* Winston-Salem Journal: Longtime arts supporter who helped establish the UNC School of the Arts dies at 96

* Winston-Salem Journal: Editorial: Copey Hanes greatly enhanced The City of the Arts


Special Thanks to the UNCSA Archives and Sarah Turner for providing several of the photos seen on this page.