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Bill Coperthwaite Passes Away

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Old 11-27-2013, 09:01 AM   #1
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Default Bill Coperthwaite Passes Away

I received a message today that Bill Coperthwaite passed away in an auto accident. Here is the news story:

UPDATED: Machiasport man dead in early afternoon crash in Washington | PenBay Pilot

This is indeed a tragedy. So much knowledge has been removed from the world too soon. Our condolences to his family and friends all over the world.

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Old 11-27-2013, 10:19 AM   #2
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Default Re: Bill Coperthwaite Passes Away

This is truly sad. All modern yurt makers and yurt dwellers owe a debt to him.
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Old 11-27-2013, 03:51 PM   #3
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Default Re: Bill Coperthwaite Passes Away

Here is a more in depth article:

Machiasport man killed in Washington crash known for unusual home, lifestyle — Down East — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine

MACHIASPORT, Maine — A Machiasport man who was killed Tuesday in a single-vehicle accident in Knox County had carved out a simple, unusual lifestyle, but despite his affinity for solitude he was recalled as a “people person.”

William Coperthwaite, 83, was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident in Washington on Tuesday afternoon.

He was to be buried near his home in a private ceremony on Saturday, according to Peter Forbes of Fayston, Vt., a photographer who collaborated with him on a book. A celebration of Coperthwaite’s life will be held in the spring, he added.

Coperthwaite lived in a house modeled after a yurt, a traditional Mongolian home built in a circular fashion. He was an advocate of yurts, led yurt-building workshops and lectures and created a foundation dedicated to promoting yurts.

He lived in a remote area in the village of Bucks Harbor, about two miles from the nearest road. Coperthwaite lived without a phone, running water or electricity — he had solar-powered lights. He got his water from a brook, had a yurt for an outhouse, and used a wood stove for cooking and heat.

“It’s the best way I know,” Coperthwaite said in a 2003 interview, describing his lifestyle on a 400-acre tract with waterfront along the serene harbor. “Each of us tries to live in the best way we know how. I want to contribute to the problems of the world as little as possible. I really believe we must find simpler ways to live or society will collapse.”
Despite the solitary, Walden-like lifestyle he chose for himself, he was far from a hermit and did not eschew relationships with people, according to William Holmes, pastor of the Larrabee Baptist Church in Machiasport.
“Everybody in Machiasport thought the world of him,” Holmes, a former member of the town’s Board of Selectmen, said Wednesday.

“He was very cordial and interested in having people come [visit],” said Holmes. “His home was always open.”

“He was an average guy. … He certainly was not standoffish,” said Holmes.
Coperthwaite’s interests went far beyond living a simple lifestyle in an unusual home and teaching others how to build a yurt.
In his 2004 book, “A Handmade Life: In Search of Simplicity,” he wrote, “I want to live in a society where people are intoxicated with the joy of making things.”

A native of Monticello, which is just north of Houlton, Coperthwaite spent most of his childhood in South Portland. He was educated at Bowdoin College, where he studied art history, the Putney Graduate School of Teacher Education in Vermont, and earned a doctorate in education from Harvard.

He lived and worked at various times in Mexico, Venezuela, Scandinavia and throughout the U.S.

He was influenced by nonviolence advocate Richard Bartlett Gregg, the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, the homesteading of Scott and Helen Nearing, and the writings of Henry David Thoreau.

In 1962, Coperthwaite was inspired when he read a National Geographic article about traditional Mongolian yurts. He found it had a rich potential for creative design yet provided people with a simple, inexpensive dwelling they could build themselves.

“He was a people person” who nevertheless also enjoyed solitude, said Holmes. “That seemed to be the kind of person he was.”
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Old 11-27-2013, 04:18 PM   #4
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Default Re: Bill Coperthwaite Passes Away

Thank you William
A great contributor to the cause. You will be missed but not forgotten.
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Old 11-27-2013, 05:25 PM   #5
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For those who wish to make donations to his foundation can do so:

The Yurt Foundation
Dickinsons Reach
Machiasport, Maine 04955

Thanks Melissa from

Yurts of Hawaii

for that info!
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Old 11-27-2013, 05:39 PM   #6
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Default Re: Bill Coperthwaite Passes Away

One very encompassing gift that Bill left the world was the book that he shared his heart and soul in. It changed my perspective on so many good things. Here's a link:


I want to share something he wrote in the last correspondence we got from him, only a week or two ago...

Most people know he loved Emily Dickinson above all other poets. He shared this quote:

"Afraid? Of whom am I afraid?

Not Death - for who is He?

The Porter of my Father's Lodge

As much abasheth me!"

He also shared a bit of a story. The wife of his friend Richard Gregg, her name was Evelyn, once said, "Old folks don't like to plan ahead". Bill was reflecting on that and wrote, 'Well Evelyn, I'm respectfully disregarding your advice: You are all invited to a celebration at the Dickinson's Reach treehouse on September 19, 2030! Put it on your calendar".

I got a chuckle out of that then. Now, I get a poignant reminder that time waits for no man or woman.

In recent years Bill had put a lot of thought into the future of the foundation he began. He saw to it that it will continue forth. His beloved Dickinson's Reach and all the yurts he built there will be cared for and I believe they are in a trust along with the Foundation, so they're secure to house and hold many more years of the things that meant the most to him - teaching others, learning from others, gathering knowledge... and of course, yurt work.

We love you, Bill. Mahalo nui loa for sharing your brilliant and humble light all over the world.
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Old 11-27-2013, 10:02 PM   #7
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Default Re: Bill Coperthwaite Passes Away

I knew next to nothing about Bill 'till I checked out Circle In's blog earlier this year and read about her family's visit to his place. That small vignette of his life made a big impact on me - here is a much older man who is very consciously making decisions to bring his life into a balance with nature and society. Doing beautiful things, pushing the envelope gracefully, and welcoming all comers. That is a testament to creative optimism, and I am blessed to have been touched by his life.
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Old 11-28-2013, 04:33 AM   #8
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Default Re: Bill Coperthwaite Passes Away

You'll love his book, Dan. It's an inspiring, easy yet challenging read. A real game changer.

And did you know he sells fantastic yurt calendars as a means of generating money for the foundation? They're spectacular.

Here is a list of his recommended books this year:
1) The Lion Children - A. MacNeice
2) A Potters Book - B. Leach
3) The Axe Book - D. Cook
4) Darwin & The Beagle - A. Moorehead
5) Cycle of the West - J. Neihardt
6) A Shelter Sketch Book - J. Taylor
7) Coming Into the Country - J. McPhee
8) Confessions of an Igloo Dweller - J. Houston
9) The Blind Watchmaker - R. Dawkins
10) Wah to Yah and the Taos Trail - L. Gerard

Another book he really liked well was called "Home Work".

Last edited by HawaiiYurts; 11-28-2013 at 04:43 AM. Reason: Additions
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Old 05-24-2014, 08:48 PM   #9
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Default Re: Bill Coperthwaite Passes Away

Bill was the first to teach all of us about yurts in the western world.

Bill was my mentor, teacher and friend

David Raitt
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Last edited by Jafo; 05-26-2014 at 07:41 AM.
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Old 06-06-2014, 01:13 PM   #10
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Default Re: Bill Coperthwaite Passes Away

Bill Coperthwaite was my uncle. I currently live in Alameda, New Mexico. Very sad to hear of Bill passing away, first met uncle Bill when he came to visit his sister, my aunt, circa 1963 / what a spark he had, as a child I knew he was the first hippie I'd ever met. I spent the winter in Belize and wasn't informed of him moving on to the next path. Rip:uncle Bill-->>>-<<<--smiles Paul A.Panarese
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