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    Al Copeland dies in Munich, Germany

    by John Pope, The Times-Picayune
    Sunday March 23, 2008, 3:42 PM

    Al Copeland, a hard-charging, high-living entrepreneur who built an empire on spicy fried chicken and fluffy white biscuits, died Sunday in Munich, Germany, of complications from cancer treatment. He was 64.

    He had gone to Munich for treatment of his illness, which had been diagnosed in November, said Kit Wohl, his spokeswoman.

    Chicken king Al Copeland

    Born in poverty, Mr. Copeland burst onto the scene in 1972, when he opened his first Popeyes fried-chicken stand. The Arabi restaurant was the start of a franchise that, under his leadership, had 700 outlets, in the United States, Puerto Rico, Panama and Kuwait.

    The money he earned led to public displays of opulence such as speedboats kept in a glass-walled showroom along Interstate 10 when he wasn't racing them, a Lamborghini sports car parked outside his corporate headquarters and, of course, the massive Christmas displays that required sheriff's deputies to direct the traffic outside his Metairie home.

    There also were over-the-top weddings with such touches as fireworks and a model of Cinderella's pumpkin coach. These weddings ended in equally spectacular divorces; the divorce proceedings from his third wife wound up bringing down the original judge hearing the case as part of a massive federal investigation of courthouse corruption.

    During Carnival, Mr. Copeland not only sponsored parade floats in Jefferson Parish but also rode, said Peter Ricchiuti, a Tulane University finance professor who saw Mr. Copeland in one such procession.

    Ricchiuti said he overheard this exchange between two other spectators: One man dismissed the spectacle as an indication of new money, but the other man replied, "If I had money, that's what I'd do."

    Not even bankruptcy, the result of buying Church's Fried Chicken Inc., stopped him. Although Mr. Copeland lost ownership of his chicken outlets, he retained control of the company making the distinctive spice mixture, and he went on to open restaurants bearing his surname, as well as establishments featuring California cuisine, wrap sandwiches, cheesecake and Asian fare.

    One such restaurant, Straya on St. Charles Avenue, triggered a noisy public feud in 1997 with novelist Anne Rice. She used her voice-mail message and a series of full-page advertisements in The Times-Picayune to attack the restaurant's decor, which included tasseled black curtains and a pair of sleek black-leopard sculptures flanking the entrance to the rest-room area.

    "The humblest flop house on this strip of St. Charles Avenue has more dignity than Mr. Copeland's structure," she said in her opening salvo.

    One reason she felt so passionately about the building at 2001 St. Charles Avenue was that she said that the Vampire Lestat, her dominant character, left her there, before Straya opened, after seeing his reflection in the window of what had been a Mercedes-Benz dealership. Rice also said she had planned to open a restaurant, Cafe Lestat, in a Magazine Street building she owned, but that never materialized.

    Mr. Copeland's response, also in a full-page ad in The Times-Picayune, was good-humored, offering to treat her to dinner and to help her find Lestat. He even spoke of launching a monthlong "Find Lestat" promotion and dressing his staff like vampires.

    But he also filed suit, claiming that she had defamed him and that she violated fair-trade laws because "her comments were made in the context of her being a business competitor," Mr. Copeland's lawyer said.

    Civil District Judge Robin Giarrusso threw out the suit. Mr. Copeland, accepting defeat, invited Rice to dinner. Rice, who did not accept his offer, moved to California in 2004, settling in Rancho Mirage after brief stints in San Diego and La Jolla. Straya, a phonetic spelling of "strella," the Spanish word for star, has become a Cheesecake Bistro.

    This wasn't Mr. Copeland's only high-profile skirmish. In December 2001, he got into a fist fight with Robert Guidry, a former casino owner, and his sons in Morton's The Steakhouse, an upscale restaurant.

    The two multimillionaires had been rivals for a riverboat-casino license in 1993. Mr. Copeland lost, and he blamed Guidry. Guidry, who had built much of his fortune on tugboats, contended Mr. Copeland had relied on connections to delay his hearing for the license.

    Guidry eventually won the license with the help of then-Gov. Edwin Edwards, but only after paying an Edwards aide $100,000 a month, amounting to more than $1 million. Guidry, who pleaded guilty to an extortion conspiracy and was a key prosecution witness against Edwards, was sentenced in January 2001 to three years' probation and ordered to pay $3.5 million in a fine and restitution.

    Each man accused the other of starting the brawl, in which Mr. Copeland suffered a blow to his left cheek. Guidry and two of his sons spent the night in jail. No charges were filed, and customers requested the Copeland and Guidry tables for months after the fight.

    With Mr. Copeland that night was Jennifer Devall Copeland, his fourth wife. They had gone to the restaurant to celebrate their first anniversary.

    According to papers filed last year, when she and Mr. Copeland were divorced, his net worth in 2004 was about $319 million and his annual income was about $13 million.

    The weekend before Thanksgiving, Mr. Copeland learned he had cancer of the salivary glands, a rare form of the disease that strikes no more than three people per 100,000 annually in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.

    Despite his illness and subsequent hospitalization, the Christmas display outside his house in an upscale Metairie neighborhood went on as scheduled, featuring thousands of lights, animated figures and house-size representations of a teddy bear and Raggedy Ann.

    Mr. Copeland was "a classic entrepreneur," Ricchiuti said. "He had disappointments, things that didn't work out, but that didn't stop him. You can't teach that in a business school. It's something inside you. Maybe it comes from a tremendous desire to succeed against all odds."

    Copeland, whose family lived for a while in the St. Thomas housing complex, never finished high school.

    He told friends that the competitive spark hit him when he was working the beverage counter at a Schwegmann's Super Market in Gentilly. A co-worker never stopped drumming up business. When Mr. Copeland asked why, the young man replied, "I'm out to prove I'm better than everybody," said Wohl, also a local author and artist.

    When he was 18, Mr. Copeland sold his car to get capital to buy a doughnut shop from his brother Gilbert, and he turned the shop into a moneymaker.

    Then he watched what happened when a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet opened nearby. Inspired by the amount of business the store did, Mr. Copeland decided to start frying chicken.

    After two years of testing recipes on friends and family, he opened Chicken on the Run in Arabi in 1971. Its slogan was "So fast you get your chicken before you get your change," and Mr. Copeland stood on the neutral ground handing out fliers.

    But the fledgling business struggled -- perhaps, Wohl said, because Mr. Copeland was flavoring it with a mild recipe after friends had told him that the spicy version he had prepared just wouldn't sell.

    Realizing that bland fried chicken was going nowhere, Mr. Copeland started using the spicy recipe. To show that he was operating a new enterprise, he decided to change its name. According to corporate lore, he was stumped until he saw "The French Connection," in which Gene Hackman won an Oscar for his portrayal of Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle, a brusque, no-nonsense New York City policeman.

    At that point, Mr. Copeland knew the business had a name: Popeyes Mighty Good Fried Chicken. There is no apostrophe in the name, Mr. Copeland often joked, because he was too poor to afford one.

    In an industry known for its high mortality rate, the restaurant started turning a profit in three weeks. Because business was so brisk, he added "Famous" to the title, Wohl said. The biscuits came later to the outlets, and the corporate name after Mr. Copeland worked with the chefs Warren LeRuth and Gary Darling to devise a recipe.

    The Popeyes craze was on, fueled by a popular jingle, "Love That Chicken From Popeyes," -- that Dr. John sang. In 1977, franchising began, and within a decade Popeyes was the third-largest fast-food chicken chain in the country, behind KFC and Church's.

    Along the way, Mr. Copeland was married twice -- the first time to Mary Alice LeCompte, his childhood sweetheart, and the second time to Patty White. Both marriages ended in divorce, and the first Mrs. Copeland died in 1995.

    As he built his business, Mr. Copeland developed his public persona, and he was elevated to the status of a local icon. He was a man who could be counted on to show up in a flashy car wearing flashy, usually black, clothes and looking perpetually tanned and youthful, generally sporting an earring or two. His 50-foot powerboats roared around Lake Pontchartrain, and when he raced in the United States and abroad, he met such luminaries as the deposed King Constantine of Greece, Princess Caroline of Monaco, Donald Trump and actors Chuck Norris, Kurt Russell and Don Johnson.

    Besides winning a shelf full of trophies, Mr. Copeland set up the Offshore Professional Tour, a charitable fundraiser that became a star-studded event.

    Mr. Copeland became what he called a "secret Santa," underwriting gifts for 1,000 needy children that Santa Claus delivered after dark on Christmas Eve.

    And the man who never finished high school established the Alvin C. Copeland Endowed Chair of Franchising at Louisiana State University. Mr. Copeland's money also supported the National Food Service Institute and Delgado Community College's apprentice program for aspiring chefs.

    Some of his wealth went to set up a Christmas display in his front yard that grew bigger each year -- and generated so much traffic that his neighbors sued in 1983 to have it removed. They also groused about his annual party for hundreds of guests featuring a vast menu and a dance floor over the indoor swimming pool.

    The outdoor spectacle was staged elsewhere around East Jefferson until 1991, when a scaled-down version returned to Mr. Copeland's home on Folse Drive.

    Coincidentally, 1991 was the year in which Mr. Copeland's business audacity seemed to catch up with him. In 1988, he made a $296 million bid to buy Church's.

    The next year, the firm agreed to be bought out for $392 million. But to finance it, Mr. Copeland had to borrow about $450 million from a group of lending institutions.

    In November 1990, Al Copeland Enterprises, the umbrella organization for Mr. Copeland's activities, said that it was in default on $391 million in debts and that it would be bankrupt if a lender demanded payment. In September that year, it had failed to make payments totaling $7.5 million.

    The banks that had lent money for the Church's deal filed an involuntary Chapter 11 petition, putting Copeland Enterprises into bankruptcy. But while Mr. Copeland relinquished control of his fried-chicken enterprise, he kept control of the spice supply, a move Ricchiuti regarded as brilliant.

    "He was dealing with some of the smartest bankers in the world, and he knew what to keep," Ricchiuti said. "It might look like an insignificant component, but he outfoxed some pretty smart people."

    The bankruptcy filing came two months after his blockbuster nighttime wedding to Luan Hunter on Valentine's Day in the New Orleans Museum of Art. Fireworks, including the display "Al I'll love you forever Luan" lit up the sky, and the Popeyes helicopter, known as the chicken chopper, hovered low enough to scatter rose petals -- and blow up a mini-dust storm.

    That marriage, which actually had begun with a Las Vegas ceremony nearly four months before the museum extravaganza, lasted nine years and ended in a bitter custody fight over their son, Alex. Overshadowing that, though, was the guilty plea of Ronald Bodenheimer, the original judge presiding over the case, to charges that he promised a custody deal favorable to Mr. Copeland in return for a possible seafood contract and other benefits.

    As a result of a federal inquiry called Operation Wrinkled Robe, Bodenheimer and two of Mr. Copeland's associates went to jail for participating in the conspiracy. Bodenheimer served slightly more than three years at a low-security prison camp in Alabama. After serving time in a halfway house and home confinement at his Metairie house, he was put on three years' probation in September. Mr. Copeland was never charged.

    Even though that union ended messily, Mr. Copeland headed down the aisle one more time, in December 2000, to marry Jennifer Devall. The aisle was in St. Louis Cathedral, a fact that set tongues wagging about the propriety of such an event for the multiply divorced Mr. Copeland. However, an archdiocesan spokesman pointed out that the ceremony respected canonical rule because only one of Mr. Copeland's weddings -- his first -- occurred in a church, and his wife from that wedding had died, thereby dissolving what the Catholic Church regards as a lifelong marriage bond.

    The wedding had a fairy-tale beginning, with the newlyweds arriving for the reception at Mr. Copeland's house in a horse-drawn pumpkin coach and walking beneath a line of crossed sabers held aloft by people dressed like wooden soldiers.

    Despite that sparkling launch, this marriage, too, dissolved into acrimony. Mr. Copeland was arrested on a domestic violence charge, and, in court papers filed in the divorce, his wife admitted to an extramarital affair.

    The divorce was granted last year.

    Mr. Copeland stayed busy. In addition to restaurants, he had invested in three comedy clubs and three hotels. At his death, Wohl said, a menu for a Brazilian-style restaurant was being tested in two Midwestern cities.

    That relentless activity was typical of him, Ricchiuti said.

    "Once he made it, it was never enough," he said. "Most people get top a certain comfort level, but that didn't appeal to him at all."

    Survivors include five sons, Alvin C. Jr. and Christopher Copeland, both of Metairie; Alex Cody Copeland of Folsom; and Chandler and Chaz Copeland, both of Madisonville; four daughters, Bonnie Copeland, Alisha Catherine Copeland and Charlotte Copeland Womac, all of Metairie, and Cassidy Copeland of Madisonville; a brother, Gilbert Copeland of Covington; and 13 grandchildren.

    Funeral arrangements are pending.

    COMMENTS (308)Post a comment
    Posted by neworleans1 on 03/23/08 at 4:02PM

    one of the great ones.

    you are going to be missed.

    Posted by bbb131313 on 03/23/08 at 4:09PM

    RIP Al .... This man came from nothing and created an empire. What an inspiration. You will be missed man. LOVE DAT CHICKEN FROM POPEYES!!!

    Posted by gardndistrx on 03/23/08 at 4:13PM

    This is without a doubt the most disrespectful article possible. Rest in Peace Mr. Copeland and my thoughts are with his family on this day of mourning.

    Posted by oicur1too on 03/23/08 at 4:16PM


    Posted by realityhaze3 on 03/23/08 at 4:17PM

    He was a materialized guy and had an ego but make no mistake he MADE EVERYTHING HIMSELF.

    I wish people in NOLA today "Doing all the killing" would read this story. Copeland should have wrote a bio and maybe somebody will.

    Like I said in a earlier post, you can come from the projects and become worth 316 million like Copeland if you want it bad enough and work hard for it.

    He made have made some unethical moves once he became rich and famous, but he did it the right way to become rich and famous. He came from nothing, worked in low paying jobs that people today wont do because they feel it is beneath them. he then decided to be the best and that he did.

    I dont get it, my parents both lived in different projects and it shows what good parenting can do. My mother's family could care less about their kids and all of them except my mother are losers. Either h/s eduaction and/or into drugs. My mother didnt finsih h/s either but luckily she was had a good heart and found my father.

    My father's family, like my mother's had a total of 9 kids. Except his mother and older siblings cared about them and enforced discilpline and made sure they all made school important to them. they all are very successful as a result. It was hard being dirt poor and one of only two white families in the neighborhood projects but they did it.

    Learn, Strive, and Live happy.

    Posted by losconinhum on 03/23/08 at 4:22PM

    Louisiana sure turns out some very interesting people. The community has lost a good man.

    Posted by realityhaze3 on 03/23/08 at 4:22PM

    You dont really think the TP would write a positive story about him do ya?

    I mean showing that you can come from the projects and become rich and famous without becoming a drug dealer or killer or rapper would just destroy the mindset of those living in the projects today.

    If they did promote his work ethic then we could no longer make excuses for those who live poor but committ all the crime in NOLA by being able to say:

    "well its not their fault they are committing crimes, its because they are poor and nobody is helping them."

    Posted by livinginjp on 03/23/08 at 4:27PM

    Yes, this is an awful article that is typical of what’s being put out by the newspaper lately. Disrespectful, mean-spirited, & ant-social undertones by the writer.

    Posted by sleazy on 03/23/08 at 4:29PM

    Al Copleland Rest in Peace. You and your family are in our prayers.

    Posted by gardndistrx on 03/23/08 at 4:31PM

    I think the T-P owes the Copeland family an apology.

    Posted by magoo123 on 03/23/08 at 4:32PM

    A true New Orleans character. He will be saddly missed. He was a hero to a lot of people.

    Posted by prestonsdad on 03/23/08 at 4:33PM

    Did I miss something? This article does not seem disrespectful at all to me. All of the unfavorable things mentioned, have been reported previously and are well-documented. It seems to be an honest account of a human being who had flaws like all of us. No matter what went wrong in his life, he always moved forward which is a lesson we should all learn.

    Posted by oldmetairie2 on 03/23/08 at 4:37PM

    This guy came from nothing and made it huge. people may claim him as new money, but thats just because he is worth more than most of the the old money in this city. He enjoyed his life, with beautiful women, and fast cars. he lived the american dream

    Posted by barnsfather on 03/23/08 at 4:39PM

    I thought this article was actually halfway decent. It was a heckuva lot better than that trash written this morning about Nagin and Home Depot-an excellent teaser headline and an article with no substance or journalism skills or anything actually. Watch yourselves and your comments people, there were many negative comments about the Home depot story early this morning and how poorly it was investigated and written. The TP deleted them all and even canceled some bloggers' accounts. So don't criticize them too harshly unless you want to have to create a new profile.

    Posted by 27addresses on 03/23/08 at 4:42PM

    an inspirational story--LOVE THAT CHICKEN FROM POPEYES-- to succeed in life , the most important INGREDIENT is personal drive. Everything else is SPICE that keeps the drive alive.

    Posted by srdemonmom on 03/23/08 at 4:45PM

    RIP AL

    A terrible disease has claimed another icon.

    Posted by mikeb on 03/23/08 at 4:56PM

    My condolences to the family but the TP did their job. If their is anything factually innacurate then they owe the Copelands an apology...otherwise they did their job.

    Posted by neworleans24 on 03/23/08 at 5:00PM

    i don't see whats wrong with the article. Its about his life. What is so disrespectful about talking what he did and where he came from.

    Sorry for your loss.

    Posted by padawn on 03/23/08 at 5:02PM

    I also think that there are some negative undertones to the story...and I think that is GREAT!! Do you think he would have wanted it any differently? :) If you'd ever had the chance...you would realize that some of the 'negative' attitude fueled his drive. He created so much for himself. It is truly a tough loss for his family--and those of us who strive for success.

    Posted by nolagirl78 on 03/23/08 at 5:16PM

    My favorite is when he had the audacity to put up parade viewing stands for him and his buddies right in front of his boarded up restaurant-eye sore on napoleon and st. charles.

    Posted by aircheck on 03/23/08 at 5:24PM

    Never met Al Sr., but did have the pleasure of meeting Al Jr., recently. Al Jr. is a real gentleman and I send my prayers and best to him and his family.

    Posted by metairiesux on 03/23/08 at 5:26PM

    The writer is just stating the facts. It is not his fault this was the lifeline of Al. Who are we to judge, good or bad, it is JUST THE FACTS!!! If I lived in Metairie I would do drugs too!

    Posted by metairiesux on 03/23/08 at 5:28PM

    I agree with crawgirl. He left empty restaurants that look terrible. If he was such an asset to the city he would have respect for it. He was just a person who made it big in the food industry, it is not like he saved humanity.

    Posted by jujuhoodoo on 03/23/08 at 5:31PM

    A very inspiring story! He was indeed a typical NOLA character and a very ambitious man who lived life to its fullest.

    Those of you who think this story should be provided to the drug dealers and street killers as an inspiration to make something of themselves - get real! They won't read anything with two-syllable words, if they can read at all!

    Posted by atlman on 03/23/08 at 5:35PM

    Although there is a lot of negative comments here remember many first jobs were at Popeye's. Also many of those managers went on to own their own stores. Al wasn't the best we had to offer but he was better than many that relocated out of town and took jobs with them.
    AS for his chicken I liked his spicy chicken until there was too much cayenne to eat the chicken without multiple glasses of water, milk, etc. I found his mild chicken was just as good and switched to that.

    Posted by Beauxregard on 03/23/08 at 5:36PM

    Is the Copeland's near the Heuy P. still open?

    Posted by rikitikitavi on 03/23/08 at 5:36PM

    This is really sad news... Al was such a grand New Orleans personality. You will be missed Al! Your flashy life kept us entertained for so many years. I grew up in Metairie and always new if I ever saw a Lamborghini driving down W. Esplanade chances are Al Copeland was behind the wheel. And we always loved seeing him with his fire shooting jet boats out at Jaeger's on the lake. I hope his family keeps up the traditions he left behind.

    And I hope you and Harry Lee join us for Mardi Gras next year in your heavenly monster truck.

    Rest in peace.

    Posted by luckofthedog on 03/23/08 at 5:39PM

    From all of us at Lucky Dog, condolences to the family.

    Posted by anniemaj on 03/23/08 at 5:39PM

    I agree with prestonsdad, the article doesn't seem disrespectful at all. If it has negative undertones, it is only because parts of his life WERE negative and the TP was simply being factual.

    Posted by metairiesux on 03/23/08 at 5:40PM

    Altman, that is a good point. Many people have jobs because of him, so that is a good point.

    Posted by shortylady4u on 03/23/08 at 5:42PM


    Posted by anniemaj on 03/23/08 at 5:43PM

    With all the exes, sons, and daughters Al has, it should be interesting to see how his estate is divvied up. LET THE FIGHTING BEGIN!!!

    Posted by metairiesux on 03/23/08 at 5:43PM

    Oldmetairie2, It is sad to think that the American dream is having fast cars and beautiful women. That shows something very sad to me. What happened to helping others? Living a peaceful life, helping and respecting others is a dream. Anyone can buy a car or get laid. Come on!

    Posted by luckofthedog on 03/23/08 at 5:45PM

    Who knocked Big Al out?

    Posted by katrina115 on 03/23/08 at 5:51PM

    oh come on crawgirl (l. lentz), even you know that you should not speak ill of the dead.lol. i miss you ;)

    Posted by riverat on 03/23/08 at 5:52PM

    Crawgirl, Your post is not necessary. A human life is lost, and you comment about eyesores in your neighborhood. How about being respectful. RIP Al,

    Posted by rwa6n on 03/23/08 at 5:52PM

    what's with the backlash?

    interesting, factual article about a pretty fascinating life

    Posted by ffeurtado on 03/23/08 at 6:00PM

    Still "Love That Chicken From Popeyes"
    Thanks Al, rest in peace.
    My sincere condolences to the family.

    Posted by lostinaustin on 03/23/08 at 6:01PM

    Al Copeland rest in peace and God be with his family and friends at this time.

    Although the article did bring out some of his troubles such as his divorces,problems with Anne Rice,etc. The article more then lauds him on how he came from extremely humble beginnings,work at menial jobs after dropping out of H/S,became a multi millionaire, and even in bankrupcy was ingenious enough to save a hugh part of the business which helped him to rebuild his empire .

    Nothing negetive there. Also stop and reread the article to relize how much Mr. Copeland gave back to the community,and that he never forgot his humble beginnings-Just ask the 1000 children who received Christmas presents from Santa after dark on Christmas Eve.

    Posted by oicur1too on 03/23/08 at 6:04PM

    WOW....I hope that happiness over comes the abundance of hate one day soon in this community.

    Posted by LostinNola on 03/23/08 at 6:08PM

    Arabi weeps. Here's to the best spicy fried chicken in the south....and the best red beans and rice too.
    Rest in Peace.

    Posted by nolawillrise on 03/23/08 at 6:18PM

    lostinaustin said what I wanted to say....Thank You and God rest his soul because in the end he was a father, a son, a husband and just a plain old human being who built an empire. Made mistakes?? Yes I know he did. Who has not made one?

    Posted by xaviergrad02 on 03/23/08 at 6:21PM

    I never met the man, but I felt like I knew him for years..

    Now Al Copeland was Naturally N'awlins... R.I.P

    Posted by pwrboatrace on 03/23/08 at 6:27PM

    rip al...

    Posted by mons1gnor on 03/23/08 at 6:30PM

    This has shocked me: I am saddened by his passing. I am reminded of a quote I read the other day:

    Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; the only earthly certainty is oblivion.
    - Mark Twain

    Also: The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven, not man's.

    Godspeed, Al.

    Posted by ULEX on 03/23/08 at 6:33PM

    ya know what some dont see is the pizza huts owned by the lundy's all over the city-- still closed-- still in disrepair-still over grown-still abandoned and run down---

    yeah al we use to buy doughnuts in arabi.. friscoville.. i was wondering why all the cars,bikes,boats were being removed from the place on the I_10 service road.. make gods chicken spicy al.... and al share all your toys with him... RIP al

    Posted by MyDarlin on 03/23/08 at 6:33PM

    Why is this whole article about his personal life? I'd rather have read about his accomplishments that made him so successful.
    I'll always remember his generosity toward the community and the amazing CHRISTmas display at his home.

    Posted by gatorlawman on 03/23/08 at 6:42PM

    Rest in Peace Al and may his family have peace on earth. the lost of your father is a big thing. The first time I got to meet him was at his house lighting party for Christmas, he invited us in for food and dance right off the street. He seemed like just a regular guy who just did well. He wasn't one of those stuff shirts. RIP Al, you was a good man...

    Posted by fastbusa on 03/23/08 at 6:43PM

    He started the whole spicy thing. Damn got to go get some chicken.

    Posted by Nightdude on 03/23/08 at 6:45PM

    nolagirl78 & metairiesux,
    how can you blame the closed Popeyes stores on Copeland? Didn't he lose control of those in the Church's deal? As far as I know his only connection was the company that supplied the spices.

    Copeland's hard work and generosity is to be admired. I wish his family well.

    Posted by philwauke on 03/23/08 at 6:54PM

    wonder how long ago the times pic prepared this?

    Posted by dam70131 on 03/23/08 at 6:55PM

    As a child the only thing that was fun about a road trip was driving past Al's showroom on the I-10 with my dad RIP 1/22/05, I'm 34 now and me and my son would share that vision of passing the cars, boats etc... on a regular basis. Thanks AL for all the close up looks at your exotic cars, I can only hope that your BOY'S can keep up with what you started!! They have big shoes to fill & lots of chicken to fry! Peace be with you and your Family " LONG LIVE THE CHICKEN KING !!!!"

    Posted by carstreet on 03/23/08 at 6:57PM

    Rest in peace my friend. I will truly miss you.

    Posted by vanilla on 03/23/08 at 6:59PM

    My MIL was a regular customer at his doughnut shop in Arabi, and was impressed by his get up and go. She always spoke well of Mr. Copeland. He was a true New Orleanian in every sense of the word.

    That, My Darlin, is why the TP wrote about his personal life. Only the TP would produce such an article highlighting the good, the bad, and the quirky, knowing the people of this town will celebrate all parts of Al Copland's life.

    RIP Al

    Posted by PMorphy on 03/23/08 at 7:01PM

    RIP Mr. Copland -the few times that I met you you showed a heart of gold.

    Posted by mamarosa on 03/23/08 at 7:01PM

    Negative undertones? You mean *the facts*?

    Posted by barbarafsmit on 03/23/08 at 7:04PM

    Well, Louisiana, now we're gonna see what it's like NOT having a force of nature like Al Copeland around. Was the Times Picayune nasty or unfeeling? Nah. I bet that Al would have loved the write up himself. It told the truth about a larger than life, whirlwind of a guy who lived every minute he was here. Al Copeland packed about three times as much living into his life as the average person, though, so it seems to me the only mistake was reporting his age as 64. He must have been 192, not 64.

    (I just hope he left the recipes to an adoring public!)

    Posted by snapdragon on 03/23/08 at 7:07PM

    I am truly sorry to learn of Al Copland's death. He was a New Orleans institution, for sure. I can remember how my whole family loved his chicken and biscuits years ago. As for his Christmas decor, I only went once and found it to be one of most tacky displays I had ever witnessed. But, most people loved it and it was a gift to the city. Condolences to his entire family.

    Posted by heckuvajob on 03/23/08 at 7:13PM

    Sure, Al had more than a few rocky moments, but that's just part of the legend now. I can remember as a kid watching the Popeyes speedboat race on the lake, going to Popeyes before parades, and seeing his Christmas lights every December. That's how he'll be remembered. Another New Orleans legend gone.

    Posted by dfm1981 on 03/23/08 at 7:15PM

    I remember reading my Car & Driver magazine back in the late 1980's and they had a small story about a man who wanted a new Porsche convertible for his girlfriend to look like it had been dipped in marshmallow cream (white top, white bumper strips, white interior, white wheels, etc.). The story ended with the comment that her name was Luan and I knew it had to be Al Copeland.

    Al was a self-made man who didn't sit on his money but enjoyed it in a very public way. Rest in Peace, Al. New Orleans will be a duller place without you.

    Posted by USCsucks on 03/23/08 at 7:18PM

    I agree with those who didn't think this article was disrespectful at all... I guess you just can't please some people. IMO, the article pretty much covers all the bases, personal and professional-- let's face it, A.C. was as much flamboyant personality and local icon as he was a businessman. New Orleans has lost another true original- Copeland will live on through the untold number of boxes full of cold fried chicken that will be consumed on neutral grounds at Mardi Gras for years and years to come. Godspeed, Al Copeland- and thanks for the cool Christmas displays I grew up with.

    Posted by loosefootnel on 03/23/08 at 7:26PM


    Posted by ejkj245 on 03/23/08 at 7:42PM

    I don't see any problems with the article. The facts are correct. As far as for him being a "great" individual, would you want your daughter marrying him or your son growing up to be just like him?

    Posted by datek1975 on 03/23/08 at 7:54PM

    Too much cooking and eating Trans Oil might have led to his quick demise.

    Posted by nolaupr on 03/23/08 at 7:59PM

    My condolences to the family. I once met Al Copeland at his Christmas display and found him to be very warm. My family and I will always remember the joy that tradition brought us. We no longer live in Metairie but we still love Popeyes and miss NOLA and the spirit of the people (like Al) who make it such a unique place.

    Posted by MyIrishEyes on 03/23/08 at 7:59PM

    "And may He raise you up on eagle's wings." He may not have been the most refined, but he gave back to the community. That's more than you can say about a lot of people who made fortunes here. My condolences to his family. -Irish

    Posted by octhern on 03/23/08 at 8:00PM

    A factual article, nothing disrespectful, but don't touch New Orleans icons! Mr. Copeland was the kind of character Orleanians love to hate: flamboyant, self-made noveau rich, ostentatious, what many wish they were, except they have don't have the determination to be. To a man that perceived himself larger than life, (and we as a public fed into it): Sic gloria transit mundi. Death waits us all and is the great equalizer. Mr. Copeland lived live to the fullest..there should be no regrets.

    Posted by RML447 on 03/23/08 at 8:01PM

    I remember when I was 14, my mom and I were on a float in the Irish Italian parade and we were passing a Popeye's and noticed Al Copeland sitting on a stand in front of it. I told my mom "Hey, let's joke around and yell out, Hey Al! WHERE'S McDONALD'S??" We only got out the Hey Al part when he stood up and waved to us. He bent down and stood up with a big box of Popeye's Chicken. He then tossed the big box of chicken to us on the float from a distance of about 15 feet. My mom and I were shocked to see this big box of chicken flying across to us, but we both managed to catch it and just looked at each other like "WOW!".
    R.I.P. Al Copeland

    Posted by comets77 on 03/23/08 at 8:07PM

    I think it is an informative article--no disrespect. RIP Al, you were definitively a New Orleans icon. Love that chicken form Popeye's!

    Posted by sewnel on 03/23/08 at 8:17PM

    I wonder if anyone has ever put a number on the impact that this man had on our local economy. How many jobs he provided. I met him once, he was very personable, a true New Orleanian. Everyone has personal problems, but we are not in the spotlight and our names would not make headlines, or be on the 6pm news. You have to respect what the man built. RIP Al, and thanks for what you did for this metro area.

    Posted by Loumexico on 03/23/08 at 8:23PM

    Rest in Peace, Sir! That's all I have to say.

    Posted by MsCindy on 03/23/08 at 8:34PM

    Al lived the American dream as Elvis Presley did....born into poverty, worked hard, and spent money extravagantly. He definitely did things in a flamboyant way. A lot of hard work paved the way to a better life for him. It's sad that money can't buy good health though. He will be missed. Hopefully he has left behind a legacy that will continue for the next generations as Elvis did.

    Posted by atta2wd on 03/23/08 at 8:46PM

    RIP AL, he made a name for himself by working, not taking handouts from others. He was a great example of what can be done by having the vision and patience to make something of yourself.........nothing happens overnight!

    Posted by BigDnMetry on 03/23/08 at 8:49PM

    Big AL, we will miss you. Growing up me and my brothers worked at Popeyes, and we had a blast. A few years later I was in the Air Force and my brother was a Marine. I had a chance to hang out with him in Riverside,CA. Both of us being away from N.O., we missed Popeyes. The first place we went in Riverside was to a Popeyes. Thanks AL.

    Posted by Noladawlin on 03/23/08 at 8:49PM

    Anybody else remember the "Popeye and Pals" Show on Saturday mornings, he sponsored? He made many kids the envy of others in their schools when they got the chance to appear on tv! My condolences to his family, he really did embody the spirit of giving back to his community, which is how communities prosper. If more business people bought from, sold to and hired locally all while recycling that money into the city, we would al be so much better off. Godspeed, Mr. Copeland

    Posted by QFAL on 03/23/08 at 8:50PM

    My prayers are with you all as it has been in the very beginning! Keep your HEAD UP & remain positive and BLESSED! GOD is definitely with you. Know that Al's faith in GOD was VERY strong & Al was obedient to the Will of GOD in many ways that A LOT of us do NOT know! He marched to a beat most will Never hear & NEVER understand; so when you read/hear negatives from others...remember WHAT YOU KNOW! Stand Strong Together.
    Felecia L.
    I.C.U. Friend

    Posted by foxytodd on 03/23/08 at 8:53PM

    He was very kind-hearted. After Katrina, I was evacuated to Maryland and 8.5 months pregnant. I had lost everything, so my family threw us a baby shower at a Copelands out there. My family was fully expecting to pay for it, but the manager called and told Al the situation (Katrina evacuee)and he GAVE us the shower, people he'd never met, at NO CHARGE. RIP Mr. Copeland

    Posted by octhern on 03/23/08 at 8:54PM

    A colorful YAT character..Someone will write a book someday. Ok, who is next? Ronnie Lamarque?

    Posted by FrankRoyal on 03/23/08 at 9:00PM

    Best chicken recipe there is. My condolences to his family. He was an awesome guy.

    Posted by buytheplace on 03/23/08 at 9:16PM

    I think that all of us who are lucky enough to have been born and reared in this wacky culture that we call "yatism", and those who have adopted it as their's, are all saddened by the passing of one of our own, Al Copleland. Love him or hate him, agree or disagree with him or his lifestyle, he was one of us. Like Buddy D and Blackcat Lacombe and Leapin Lou Messina, and Al Scramuzza, and all of the other thousands of characters who make us what we are, a different breed, we will miss him and never forget him. Rest in peace Al and Godspeed with his family.

    Note: Al Scramuzza ain't gone yet. He's still with us.

    Posted by nolagirl78 on 03/23/08 at 9:20PM

    Nightdude, we were refering to restuarants he owns. (Copeland's & Copeland's Cheesecake Bistro)

    Posted by sterlingd on 03/23/08 at 9:22PM

    Al was a true New Orleans icon. Where are all our other icons from the past-just wondering.
    Al Scrummuza,The Universal Furniture Chairman,Betsy,Frankie & Johnnie w/the "Let'em have it old man",Im sure theyre are plenty more-sopme gone to rest and some still with us.

    Posted by doctorjd on 03/23/08 at 9:22PM

    I heard Al was attributed with the following quote:

    "If I can't drive it, eat it, or screw it, I don't want it."

    You will be missed Al!!!!

    Posted by dninc on 03/23/08 at 9:28PM

    Truly a Deep loss for New Orleans, he is a true New Orleans Legend, this man could have lived anywhere in the entire world and moved all of his businesses to more successful Metro Cities in the Nation and he stuck it out in New Orleans where his roots are Deeply planted, his Corporate offices and main resturants still exist in New Orleans.

    I remember going to his Mansion in Metairie that was fully decorated during Halloween and his Butler handing me big fat pieces of the best candy, i even made "U" turns to his Home and got more sometimes.

    And his house was always the best decorated around Christmas, I miss living in New Orleans i miss Louisiana everyday im here in Florida, not that i want to return to live there right now because im very successful where im at now but i look forward to moving back one day and giving back.

    I do however hope his Children keep his empire going strong, Popeyes was sold to a company in Atlanta called "AFC" Formally Initialed after "Atlanta's Fried Chicken" Later changed to "America's fried Chicken" but still based in Atlanta.
    I hope the family can find a way to buy it back from them, that company has been ruining Popeyes for the past decade they've had it under their power and they have been having financial troubles themselves, im afraid Popeyes wont exist sooner or later or they'll be sold to some company in Korea before we know it, AFC don't care anything about the Significance of this company, it's deep New Orleans roots or anything else to go with it all they care is to profit from it and toss it when the barrel goes dry, They've done it to Churches, and other chicken chains they've owned.

    Posted by stavo on 03/23/08 at 9:35PM

    Love that chicken from POPEYES.... we'll miss him...What a legacy!!!

    Posted by kbienvenu2 on 03/23/08 at 9:43PM

    will be greatly missed including his flambouyant ways,i will always remember BIG Al and the family in prayers and in my heart.... kim b.

    Posted by exodia on 03/23/08 at 9:45PM

    An icon. A piece of New Orleans culture. Popeyes is a symbol of what New Orleanians call its spicy food. Thank you Al for introducing us to another way to enjoy one of America's most popular delicacies...Chicken..Rest in Peace...

    Posted by gatormama1 on 03/23/08 at 9:45PM

    Yes, 27, Love That Chicken From Popeye's. The TP ran gossipy articles on line about him. His personality helped him succeed. I imagine it helped Dr. John make a little extra money, too. And it helped me have some decent fried chicken in locales outside of NOLA. I just hope the movie of his life story treats him "good."

    Posted by NOLATigah on 03/23/08 at 9:46PM

    I don't understand what all of the animosity towards the Times-Pic is about.

    Al was a colorful character, and all of the above mentioned events were true... Both the good and the bad. I can only hope that my obit will be so decorative...

    R.I.P. AL. New Orleans will never be the same. (And it shouldn't be.)


    Posted by expate on 03/23/08 at 9:55PM

    Sorry to lose a real character.

    Three Popeyes memories (though there are well many more):

    * I was always impressed that the employees always said "please" and "thank you".
    * On my way to deliver our first child at Baptist Hospital", my husband, expecting a long night stopped at the Popeyes on Claiborne and Napoleon and ate a two piece dinner off the roof of our car while I was in labor.
    * The surprise of seeing Angela Hill in the Popeyes on St. Claude (off Franklin) getting grub for her peeps in the black sedan.

    Rest in peace, Al. You earned it.

    Posted by saintvulture on 03/23/08 at 9:57PM

    There is some good European socialized medicine you can all look forward to once when Dems get into office.

    Posted by eddiepugs on 03/23/08 at 10:04PM

    Our personal Mardi Gras host Al, you always entertained with enthusiasm, partied with passion and loved life every day. Thank you for sharing the experiences and balconies...

    Posted by bravedog on 03/23/08 at 10:06PM

    I wish all the tp items were this factual. No one leads a perfect life. Al's life was far from perfect, but non the less, a great new orleans success story. Thanks Al for all the good you did for New Orleans and the world. Thanks Times-Pic for reporting the facts. Al did his job and you did yours.

    Posted by dayspast on 03/23/08 at 10:06PM

    This really seems like a disrespectable story for sure. Why put his whole life in this article.

    He did what many only dream about doing. Yes, he will be missed in N.O. I just hope those people he sold his company to doesn't destroy the franchise.

    Posted by algerian on 03/23/08 at 10:11PM

    How is this story disrespectful? Sounds like any 'come up from da hood' story I've heard. Man hustles, gets rich, live a flashy exaggerated life, gets hoes, make babies (9!), fight in the streets, get involved in criminal acts, and is lauded in his community. Typical, not disrespectful.

    Posted by leamineo on 03/23/08 at 10:12PM

    they should make a movie about al and call it the chicken king.

    Posted by menucat on 03/23/08 at 10:15PM

    New Orleans has lost another great "yat". I send my condolences to all of his family and I wa glad to have personally met Al on a couple of occasions, one at his employee Christmas party where he got a rum and coke for me and made me feel at home with him and a few times at his house during Christmas. Al, Jr. and rest of family, continue the Christmas tradition on Folse Street as it meant so very much to Al and to the citizens of New Orleans and surrounding areas. The food menus in heaven will be getting better now that Al is there. I went to the Popeyes Store #1 when it first opened. God rest, Al.

    Posted by noladrumman on 03/23/08 at 10:15PM

    bon voyage, al! put in a good word for us down here...

    Posted by jtknola on 03/23/08 at 10:16PM

    Remember the Flood back in Spring of 1993. Me and friend went to see a movie at the Joy Cinema on Veterans Blvd. I think the movie was Anaconda starring Jenifer lopez. Anyway- we had no idea it was flooding outside until we got up to leave after the movie. The Joy employees decided to keep the movie rolling and not inform anyone it was flooding outside. The water had made it up to my car's dashboard. We were 16 yrs old, trapped at the nasty Joy Theater, none of us had a cell phone back then and my first car was totally flooded out! We waded through 4 or 5ft of water that had backed up from the canal that ran behind the Joy. OK - We just see the movie Anaconda & now we have to wade through water backed up from the canal that ran behind the Joy Cinema. We were just waiting to feel someting slimy slither by in that water. After what felt like hours wading through the water, we made it next door to the Travelodge Motel. Somehow the Travelodge didnt flood. Our parents couldn't pick us up since the water didn't recede until the next day.

    Here's were Al Copeland comes into play: The next morning after the water receded we walked up to Veterans Hwy, which was closed off by the police because of all the debris that spewed up from the canals. We decide to start walking down Vet's. All of sudden we see a large SUV coming up Vets Hwy. The SUV stops along the side of us, rolls down the dark tinted window- guess who's behind the wheel? AL COPELAND and one of his wives!! He tells us to jump on the running board & hold on to the roof rack of the SUV. He was gonna bring us home! He was the only car on the street. The police just waved us through all the way down Veterans Hwy. He dropped us off right in front of my parents house. I don't know what made him stop when he saw us on Veterans- He didn't know either of us and there were other people walking along Veterans Hwy like us.
    Al COPELAND SAVED THE DAY! I will NEVER forget that day as long as I live! To be diagnosed with a rare cancer and then pass away in just a few months is so sad - My heart goes out to his family and friends.

    Posted by nola4u on 03/23/08 at 10:28PM

    RIP Mr. Al you did real good while here on earth.

    Posted by robnlar on 03/23/08 at 10:31PM

    The world will definitely be a little less brighter now that Al Copeland, Sr. has passed away.

    May God bless his family during this sad and difficult time.

    May Al Copeland, Sr. rest in peace.

    Posted by kikiigirl on 03/23/08 at 10:34PM

    Well, I will miss Al very much. I had the pleasure to work at #2 vets. Copelands for 5 1/2 years and loved every minute of it. He was good to his employee's and always treated us with respect. I always enjoyed the company picnics & christmas parties, they were always 1st class. I also worked several of his boatrace parties & a party at his house. He always displayed kindness & appreciation.
    This man lived an extravagent life, but worked hard to build his empire. No one "gave" him anything. He well deservered to enjoy and have his toys, he earned each & everyone of them. I just hate that he couldn't live his later years with 1 true love, it always seemed he ended up the gimmie-gimmie kind, but maybe that's what he liked, taking women from nothing and giving them something.
    Oh well, I will miss hearing all the cheap talk and what he's doing next, life will be alittle duller without him around.
    God Bless all his children, may his legacy live on...

    Posted by oceanblu on 03/23/08 at 10:51PM

    Chill people the ti mes P just went into the archive and printed previous stories that had already been read. What a COLORFUL MAN!!! Thoughts and prayers go out to his entire family.

    Posted by ironmannurse on 03/23/08 at 10:58PM

    wow...what a loss. a chalmation who went all the way to the top!!i will never forget the old black coral covered chicken shops that we went to for lunch and where we went after partying late into the night to get a 3-piece with rice. popeyes was a tradition when i was growing up. i met al in person a few years ago when he came to the hospital where i worked to have an "outpatient test" he was very nice and very down to earth. i was impressed. i will miss him and and the era that he emcompassed..........

    Posted by leveeleak on 03/23/08 at 11:00PM


    For all his faults and good traits, Al Copeland changed the fast food world. From spicy chicken to side orders like red beans, cajun rice, to biscuits! Now most chicken places offer the same or similar.

    He also brought the New Orleans taste to New York City, Miami and more.

    Posted by samson10905 on 03/23/08 at 11:11PM

    Rest In Peace, Big Al.....sometimes larger than life. I never personally had the opportunity to meet you, but understood where you were coming from. I last saw him @ the St. Tammany Parish fair with his son, and only saw a father enjoying the fair with his son. I could tell he was ill, I just didn;t know how sick he was. My condolenses to his family. Thank you for the great chicken and all of the great food that you brought to us!!!!!!!

    Posted by slidellswamp on 03/23/08 at 11:12PM

    His resourcefulness and drive to succeed in business never ceased to amaze me. I was contracted for undercover consumer audits for what to be and endless period and given an overly generous allowance to critic menus and service at his expense. Still I would find myself sitting next to his in-house focus groups and evaluations where he was working harder to improve his menu offerings. Then there was his prototype resturant on Veterans that changed names and themes every six months. He was contantly looking to improve. When it came to being a New Orleans restaurateur, he did everything possible to uphold and exceed the city's reputation. He was an awesome ambassador for the city.

    He'll be missed.

    Posted by mshavisham on 03/23/08 at 11:15PM

    Pat Taylor was an ambassador to the city, certainly not Al Copeland.

    Posted by wakeupfriend on 03/23/08 at 11:18PM

    Four marriages, his firm once headquartered in New Orleans now does business out of Atlanta, Copeland's closed at St. Charles and Napoleon - a blight on a prosperous neighborhood, accused of impropriety with a judge relative to his divorce proceedings, people injured as a result of speed boat races on Lake Pontchartrain, domestic violence charges (!).

    I'm sorry to see him gone, but let's stop the blind postings. Copeland should have sought the support of a psychiatrist to stem his self destructive activity.

    Posted by jlunz on 03/23/08 at 11:25PM

    mshavisham...... Are you a saint? Good Grief woman, you are truly wicked!!!! How dare you !!! May the Good Lord forgive your mean spirited heart

    Posted by time2purge on 03/23/08 at 11:28PM

    The fourth wedding photos in front of the cult's NOLA headquarters are just precious!

    Posted by turnx2no on 03/23/08 at 11:29PM

    Certainly a true New Orleans character is gone. I can't say I personally agree with multiple marriages and a publicly extravagant lifestyle, but nevertheless he had a charitable side as well, as attested to by many posters here.

    His Christmas displays were gaudy, but also always featured a Nativity scene to remind everyone of the true meaning of Christmas. And they certainly brought joy to many children.

    I remember that many of us tasted their first Popeye's chicken at the first store in Arabi, and it was so good (pretty tasty fries too) during the parades. If I am correct, wasn't it some sort of A frame building, probably long gone as well.

    He certainly did put New Orleans on the map with the chicken and the powerboats. Hopefully, the chicken (and spicy recipe) will be around for a long time to come. Actually, it looks like after some lean times, the chain is coming back, even in other cities. As long as the taste is there, Popeye's will be around.

    It's too bad there was a lot of the not-so-fun stuff surrounding him as well. No point to dwell on the those things, they happened and that was that. But that was between AC, the legal system, his family and his acquaintances.

    What us who did not know AC will take away is this: a New Orleanian who stayed a native son, who will always be synonymous with the Christmas season, and will always be remembered (by us yats) from here on when we reach into that box of Popeyes at Endymion.

    As with all families - famous or not famous, rich or poor - my condolences at your loss, but on this Easter Sunday, take solace in that he is now with our Lord.

    Posted by ikram on 03/23/08 at 11:43PM

    My thoughts and prayers are with the Copeland family. he was definitely an icon.
    Ikram Chaudhry

    Posted by yabastead on 03/23/08 at 11:44PM

    A brilliant success against all odds!! What a story on success. All the college degrees at the TP could not add up enough for what he has accomplished and still will accomplish years after his death.

    Posted by champ1222 on 03/23/08 at 11:50PM

    When you buy ink by the barrel you can slash & trash anyone you wish & blow stories way out of proportion! This guy was self-made & was very charitable, have a little class & at least let the family have some closer before you write your trashy stories!

    Posted by ripACC on 03/23/08 at 11:58PM

    I had the pleasure of knowing Big Al personally. He was truly a great man. He was a extreme family man. I understand man people only know what they have read or heard, for that I am sorry. If you only go by those things, then you would think he was a terrible person.

    He cared for a lot of people. He kept his family together. He taught them how to make it on their own. Those of you expecting the Copeland family to fight over his empire, you couldn't be more wrong. They will bond together and make it thru these dark times.

    I ask you please on this board, respect the great lose this family is going thru.

    Let Al Copeland rest in piece. He deserves it.

    We love you Big Al and we will never forget you.

    Posted by mixednuts75 on 03/24/08 at 12:00AM

    Wasn't Copeland involved in an accident that killed someone years ago? Why didn't TP mention that?

    Posted by ward9son on 03/24/08 at 12:01AM

    My Al Copeland Story

    Eating Chicken at the So. Carrollton/Earhart Store around 1988. A black corvette pulls into the parking lot and out comes Al Copeland. He's dressed to the nines in leather - Leather pants, leather coat, black sweater, Gino Vanelli boots, the whole thing.

    They had a new mobile Popeye's Chicken Store/trailer in the back of the parking lot, and as I take a good hour to eat my Popeye's, I got to watch him marvel over the new trailer, just delivered, with no one else but him to do it.

    Dressed like Johnny Cash at a Nashville concert, Al Copeland immediately crawls under the trailer to inspect something, and spends more than an hour lokking at every aspect of that trailer - in it, on it, under it, working on every door and switch and item in the trailer, by himself.

    He marvelled in the new trailer like a kid with a new electric train at Christmas. You can't fake that !!! He was, for all of his faults and excess and new money flair, a real authentic innovator and enthusiast for business. He was a millionaire 100 times over and still not afraid to get under a trailer by himself in a heaven's knows $$$$$$ leather coat and pants just to make certain - RIGHT NOW - that his business was gonna run right.

    Hat's Off, Big Guy, you'll be missed

    Posted by FarwoodDrive on 03/24/08 at 12:02AM

    Buy stock in Popeye's now. Tomorrow all the sympathy chicken will be sold. And then again the day of the funeral. Al would approve - stop hatin' and get money!

    Posted by rikitikitavi on 03/24/08 at 12:15AM

    Here's a link to a 1979 Eric Paulsen interview with Al Copeland:


    Posted by MsWelder26 on 03/24/08 at 12:19AM

    AL COPELAND >> bigger than life and loved by so many !! YOU CAN JUST FEEL THE JEALOUSY OF SOME OF THE PEOPLE ON HERE >> LET IT GO !! The man lived "His life" as he wanted and owed no one an explanation.
    Al,Rest in Peace !!

    Posted by catgirl1 on 03/24/08 at 12:43AM


    Posted by anonymousguy on 03/24/08 at 12:51AM

    Okay, all of the mis-information on here is really getting to me, as someone "in-the-know" with the runnings of Copeland Enterprises.

    One of the first issues that I have is with people complaining about the closure of the Napoleon/St. Charles Copeland's store. The reason that store has remained closed as long as it has is an insurance issue. It is also close to being resolved, and work on the store should be starting well before the end of this year, as starting prior to the complete resolution of this issue with the insurance companies and property owners could potentially cost Copeland Enterprises millions. I will leave it at that, and the many people from New Orleans that have been jerked around by insurance companies in the past several years should understand.

    Furthermore, that area of uptown is just getting back into the range of population where the restaurant can be opened profitably. Opening it before that point, then having to close it again would have been devastating to the perception of business sustainability in the area. Furthermore, are you really going to complain about Copeland's on St. Charles being boarded up with plywood painted to match the outside and otherwise adorned to be as minimally aesthetically unpleasing as possible, while there was (until a few weeks ago) a boarded up Rite Aid diagonal across the intersection that looked unfit for rats and squatters? Would you have wanted to eat with the view of that?

    Secondly, the vehicles have not been removed from the I-10 showroom in Metairie (permanently). Mr. Copeland's shop manager took the opportunity of his trip to Germany for treatment to resurface the showroom floor for the first time in over 20 years to make it look nicer for the public that come by to see his cars (which costs his company a fortune in insurance and security to keep those cars and boats on the same premises with high visibility to the public, and is purely a public service he did as he didn't make any money off of that showroom). The cars and trucks are already back in the showroom.

    Mr. Copeland also just purchased a boat prior to his departure for Europe capable of breaking the water-speed record (it arrived this week, I believe), which he will sadly never be able to drive and complete one of his lifetime goals of setting the record. He has also for the past 20 years or so donated boats and some cars to charitable institutions, universities, and other NPO's for auction at the benefit of the organizations.

    Just thought that you all should know these things.

    Requiescat in Pace, Mr. Copeland. I have nothing but fond memories of you throughout my whole life, the earliest of which was you taking me for a ride in one of your Lamborghini's when I was around 4, and one of the best of which was you taking me on the open cockpit jet-boat from the marina house at the point, across the lake (in about 5 minutes) to see your new property you were building on, then heading back to the southshore for dinner at Jaegers. Thanks for the memories.

    Posted by heartsmart on 03/24/08 at 12:54AM

    As Al lived his life, we should all learn that it is important to live every day to its fullest, as we are not guaranteed tomorrow. Make the most of your God-given talents, be the best you can be and make every day count!

    Al always celebrated Jesus' birthday with the entire community by his Christmas displays. I think it's fitting that Al died on Easter, the day that Jesus was resurrected from the grave.

    Al, thank you for being an inspiration to so many.

    To you family and loved ones, I pray that our Lord will give you comfort as you mourn the loss of this wonderful man. May he also give you peace and the strength that you are going go need in the upcoming months to carry on his great legacy with respect and dignity.


    Posted by catgirl1 on 03/24/08 at 1:02AM


    Posted by Roberteaux on 03/24/08 at 1:09AM

    Adios, Al...

    Love dat chikken, man!

    See you in the big cookoff in the sky.


    Posted by crisvonriv on 03/24/08 at 1:20AM


    Posted by nolaacc on 03/24/08 at 1:51AM

    Felicia, thanks for posting....It's ali. hope all is going well for you. please keep in touch. Love ya

    Posted by economy1 on 03/24/08 at 2:12AM

    Folks who are griping about the Copeland's on Napoleon need to get a grip.
    Y'all never liked him in the first place and the shuttered restaruants just gave you an excuse to say how you felt.
    You're worried about shuttered buildings but have you noticed the condition of St. Charles Avenue's pavement?
    Why aren't you all over Ray Nagin's useless behind instead of dancing on the grave of a dead man?
    Copeland's company has been rebuilding slowly but y'all never went to his restaurants in the first place so - no wonder they stayed shuttered so long!
    Tourism has been down, wages are up, workers are scarce and contractors are scarcer.
    I'm sure something will become of the site now that he's gone and the family isn't so selfishly distracted by their family crisis.
    You people should be ashamed of yourselves but you don't have class or sense enough to realize it.
    You probably danced on Harry Lee's grave as well...

    Posted by CommProf on 03/24/08 at 2:17AM

    saintvulture's idiotic comment has nothing to do with this story.

    It seems that he means because Al died in Germany that the Europen health care system is a failure. People die of cancer in N.O.'s world-famous hospitals, too. (!) What saintvulture would also mention if he were intellectually honest instead of just a pissed-off Bushie, is that basic healthcare, which everyone needs, is available to all in Europe, and consequently, leads to longer average life expectancies than in the U.S.

    For the poster that asked when this story was written: quite a while ago. Papers always have feature obits written on people famous in the area so that they're almost ready to go when needed. I even wrote one on EWE in 1982 -- just in case! It has been updated (by others)every six months or so over the years, so that when the time comes, some young reporter will just have to write the first few paragraphs. (And then there will be complaints, like there are here, that it will point out that EWE was a felon...)

    But having come up with the recipie for the best red beans & rice I've ever eaten puts him far out in front for having given more to N.O. than most people ever will -- and done far less negative to the city than many do on a daily basis.

    Posted by frankieagogo on 03/24/08 at 2:26AM

    Overlooked by all who have commented is the fact that the presence of hundreds of Popeyes restaurants throughout the nation has done more to promote New Orleans' culture and cuisine than all else over the last 35 years.

    The fact is that for most Americans a Popeyes restaurant is the closest personal connection to New Orleans they will ever experience.

    In his own way, Al Copeland did more for the city of New Orleans than he is likely to ever be given credit for. All New Orleanians owe AL Copeland a debt of gratitude for managing to place a bit of the flavor of New Orleans in nearly every neighborhood in America... that's an amazing accomplishment worthy of an abundance of respect.

    Posted by MizzTickle on 03/24/08 at 4:06AM

    Al Copeland dying just kind of blew me away. This is a dude, no matter how tacky you think he was, was an icon, a positive influence on the city, and I really feel for his family.

    This guy was not a bad guy by any means.

    May his family have all the love and comfort from everyone. I am praying for him and his family.

    Posted by 4heros on 03/24/08 at 4:30AM

    You did it your way.

    Posted by MINESHAFT on 03/24/08 at 5:34AM

    al copeland, was a hard working, smart business man. he got rich on his own. he had nothing given to him. a true new orleans working hero! he was a huge part of new orleans. he really did it his way! so rest in peace, and condolences to the copeland family.

    Posted by popzutoo on 03/24/08 at 5:44AM

    The world famous spicy chicken loved by Billions of people all over the world.

    Al, You are a New Orleans Favorite.

    See you on the other side.......P O P Z U T O O

    Posted by Damnn on 03/24/08 at 6:35AM

    Success does not make up for character, maybe in this bizarro world it does.

    Posted by boathead on 03/24/08 at 6:55AM

    We've lost a real New Orleanian...a real character. Here was a guy uptown loved to hate, but errbody ate his chicken.

    Posted by arewenotmen on 03/24/08 at 7:12AM

    Remember that "Cajun Sparkle"? Those little packets of spices that came with your cajun fries? What ever happened to them.

    R.I.P. Al

    Posted by xnodoubt504x on 03/24/08 at 7:39AM

    We'll miss ya Al! Thanks for the memories...especially Popeye's Fried Chicken on Mardi Gras Day!

    Posted by misslizzy on 03/24/08 at 7:41AM

    Big New Money- and my god did he enjoy it! How many Barbie wives? How many houses, boats, brawls, politicians bribed?

    But damn the chicken's good! Popeyes in other places disapoints, as I found out in exile, but in NOLA it's always up to snuff. It's not a trip home without the stop at Popeyes!

    Anybody notice how he got younger? Like Dorian Gray? LOL What great plastic surgery- wish I knew who did him.

    Posted by HARPBOY on 03/24/08 at 7:43AM

    My first job was at a Popeye's-back when Al still owned them all(ironically, it was right next door to a Church's)...The man worked hard to build himself up in the world, and he played hard. He wasn't with out his misgivings, but who is? He was a true, hard-working New Orleanian, and will be missed. RIP, Mr. Copeland. I hope your kids proudly carry on your empire...and your Christmas Light display!

    Posted by dymon on 03/24/08 at 7:49AM

    A true Rags to Riches. RIP AL COPELAND.

    Realityhaze3 - what's wrong with being a rapper?

    I think the TP was just stating the facts as we know them. If they would have wrote the article and left out the not-so-attractive moments the bloggers would scream about that.


    It's sad that a man with so much money couldn't seem to find happiness.


    Posted by Kalashnikova on 03/24/08 at 7:55AM

    He sure had a good head for business. His businessed employed 1000s of people, he gave a lot away, and was a really nice guy. Whats not to like? Anyway, Whats this foolishness about new money? He got the old fashion way - hard work!

    Posted by 68iou1 on 03/24/08 at 8:00AM

    Mr Copeland was a New Orleans icon and will be missed by many of us.

    Who knows how many others were inspired by his tenacity and success to be the best.

    His legacy will now be written by the next generation of Copelands and we can truly see by their actions how succesful he was. His greatest testament will be shown by how successful he was in communicating his drive and joie de vivre to his children.

    For your journey sir may you have bright sun, blue skies, glass smooth water and gentle breezes,

    Posted by Lady7 on 03/24/08 at 8:04AM

    Al Copeland will truly be missed. He gave us Popeye's Chicken, Copeland's Restaurant, wonderful cheesecake, and don't forget the Christmas Display which drew many from New Orleans to Metairie, to Kenner. I feel as though I've lost a member of my family. May he rest in peace knowing that he touched so many.

    Posted by suncindy2 on 03/24/08 at 8:09AM

    YES...an inspirational story--LOVE THAT CHICKEN FROM POPEYES!!!!

    Posted by JetfireK on 03/24/08 at 8:15AM

    Why is it that many do not remember that Al Copeland lost his Popeye Chicken Restaurants (except for a couple of them) during his court trial of Church's Chicken. If the Popeyes in your area are run down they do not belong to Al Copeland but rather to the company who won the litigation.

    Posted by nuorleanian on 03/24/08 at 8:18AM

    To your family, close friends and acquaintances, my prayers are with you.
    Ms. Ashley Copeland, keep your head up.
    Carla (long ago friend)

    Posted by nolaguyindc on 03/24/08 at 8:28AM

    Interesting story....interesting comments.

    I too love that chicken, and remember when he burst on the scene. Churches was the one, but when that spice came along, good bye to the grease.

    I will not comment on his personal life and affairs because that what it was "HIS".

    Businessman...Entrepreneur...Visionary is all I have to say.

    Posted by Pimpin247 on 03/24/08 at 8:48AM

    This man came from nothing and really cared about the New Orleans community....put the negative stuff in a different article...RIP

    Posted by CKOhlmeyer10 on 03/24/08 at 8:53AM

    Al Copeland proved that ANYBODY can make it in America WITHOUT a federal check and the federal nanny to whipe one's nose.

    Posted by gotgone on 03/24/08 at 8:55AM

    It seems to me that it has always been a policy of Times Pic to publish the criminal history of a deceased person.
    Now with this being said one fails to mention what all Al did, yes he had more than a few issues on the shady side, but he worked his ass off to get what he got and to get where he was.
    I do hope that Mr. Pope when you die your criminal record is posted as well. See how you feel about your record being posted for all to see.

    Posted by mofromno on 03/24/08 at 8:58AM

    RIP AL!

    Thanks for your vision the formed a very memorable legacy for some many people. When Al did it he did it big. He enjoyed life and I don't think anyone can blame him for that. Many may not have agreed with him, but such is life.

    Popeyes was one of my first jobs outside of working for NORD. I worked at the world's fair at popeyes. Later to work at a store on Vets. Then went on to work as an ass't manager. All different times but always an opportunity. On the times I had the opportunity to see Al, he was always pleasant and a motivator.

    Regardless of the negatives, he did have a positive impact on our community. Back in the day, Popeyes offered employees share interests. I think he did well by his employees.

    RIP Al and thank you.
    My condolences to his family.

    Posted by DeltaD on 03/24/08 at 9:01AM

    ARABI, LA......I remember his first place 'Chicken On the Run'. It was a box on wheels. He was a young man then. He would tell us, "Yall come back and tell me what you think about this recipe" because he was changing to find the right one. It was on Judge Perez Drive right before C&C Pharmacy. Someone else opened a chicken place across the street from him that didn't last long.

    Posted by argceo on 03/24/08 at 9:08AM

    I remember Al, I once worked as a Valet at the Old Westin Hotel. He pulled up in a red lambo and asked me to watch the car, he gave me a $100! I also remember eating at Cheescake Bistro and seeing him with his flashy shirts and always a hot chic come in the place. What a guy! He lived a fulllife!

    Posted by bijou2382 on 03/24/08 at 9:16AM

    I find it hard to understand how so many people can worship this man!

    Let's hear from those who lost money when Copeland declared bankruptcy.

    And how about Copeland bribing a judge?

    Posted by chumpsinnola on 03/24/08 at 9:17AM

    I always loved the Anne Rice/Al Copeland feud. That was a blast.

    I'm gonna dis Anne Rice here: For all her supposed "preservation" instincts that motivated the feud, her writings have done more to distort the perception of New Orleans to the rest of the world than anything Al Copeland ever did. Spicy fried chicken comes from New Orleans!? Wow, there's a surprise.

    But Vampire City? New Orleans was never some weirdo vampire city before she put her imagination to work. Ghosts and haunted mansions? Sure. But the wave of black-cloak-wearing, fake-vampire-teeth out-of-town goofballs that descended on the city due to her books I could have done without--always & forever imposing their view of what the "real" New Orleans is--what a bunch of baloney.

    Vampire city? New Orleans ain't.

    Cheesy millionaire Chicken King from Arabi? That's the real New Orleans story & the one the rest of the world never seems to get.

    Oh, well. I get it. Al was 1000% N.O. RIP.

    Posted by Bonzo1 on 03/24/08 at 9:21AM

    Thank You Al for the best Fried Chicken and side orders in the world.


    Posted by RosieS on 03/24/08 at 9:23AM

    I'm saddened by Mr. Copeland's death. I met him many years ago in a business situation and he was gentlemanly and quite handsome. Was he tacky? Probably, but then New Orleans is wonderfully tacky and quirky. It's what separates us from the rest of the country and why people come here. We can ill afford to lose one of our marvelous characters, since there are so few left. I fear we may in the end become as dull as small town America, same architecture, cookie cutter people -dull, dull, dull. My sympathy to Mr. Copeland's family and friends. Whether positively or negatively, he will be remembered and he would love that!

    Posted by powerpakt on 03/24/08 at 9:23AM

    What a rare breed of man. This guy was truly a wheel of prosperity for the area. I live in no. ky. now and will have a hard time accepting this loss. What the world needs now and always are men like Him. Unafraid to earn and unafraid to give/spend. I met Him once at centerfolds in Metairie on Lisa dr. during a pub crawl before a parade in Met.the next day, with his posse. What a great bunch of Gentlemen. YOU WILL BE SORELY MISSED AL. Love and prayers from your friends to the north.

    Posted by nolalou2 on 03/24/08 at 9:23AM

    Posted by gotgone on 03/24/08 at 8:55AM
    It seems to me that it has always been a policy of Times Pic to publish the criminal history of a deceased person.
    Now with this being said one fails to mention what all Al did, yes he had more than a few issues on the shady side, but he worked his ass off to get what he got and to get where he was.

    Sorry, gotgone, but I don't know what article you read, but the Al Copland's successes and failures are mentioned in the article. What did you want them to do, portray him as a saint? Remember , Al Copeland bribed a sitting judge to get his way!

    Posted by tulanestu on 03/24/08 at 9:28AM

    I LOVE YOU AL, you will be sadly missed.

    Posted by merrymg on 03/24/08 at 9:33AM

    He is what America is all about!
    You can do it! We are one of the only countries in the world where if you have a dream and find an idea, and keep working at it, your dreams will come true.
    I used to take my daughter to see his Christmas displays, and got a little upset when his neighbors complained.. but I did understand..
    How he lived his life is his business, but he lived it to the fullest, but sometimes carelessly. He seemed like a nice person.
    Al was one of a kind.
    May he rest in peace.

    Posted by twangster12 on 03/24/08 at 9:34AM

    Folks, this is a fine article. The critics need to understand the difference between an obituary (which recounts the notable facts of a person's life, good and bad) and a eulogy (which usually sticks to the positive stuff).

    Posted by rnboangel on 03/24/08 at 9:36AM

    well Al, there's just some things you need to do to get heaven ready for the rest of us. go ahead and start working on the christmas lights. open a few popeyes there. please have at least one copelands (i love your popcorn shrimp and the sauce that goes with it). we need a cheesecake bistro if not lots of cheesecake at copelands. i adore the strawberry one. then maybe then i'll be ready to go there.your life was your own and you owned every moment. you made jefferson and new orleans wonderful. untill we meet again rest in spices.

    Posted by missmetairie on 03/24/08 at 9:43AM

    You will be greatly missed!! From a long time admirer of your success. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    Posted by Champ01 on 03/24/08 at 9:43AM

    Gotta admit, we're all jealous. He made a fortune from fried chicken, hooked up with plenty of hot scanky women over the years, and had all the toys.

    Posted by ladyzee1 on 03/24/08 at 10:00AM

    He will be missed truly, the holloweens and the christmases he gave the kids every year at the his home. RIP.

    Posted by metlany on 03/24/08 at 10:02AM

    My senior year in high school, 1975-76, we were allowed to leave campus for lunch. We frequented a Popeye's in Metaire. You could get a 2-piece for $1.04. To this day, I remember that price.

    Posted by myrnaminkoff on 03/24/08 at 10:22AM

    May God bless the family and friends of a wonderful Louisianan during their time of grief. RIP Mr. Copeland, a man whose life was as spicy as his delicious chicken!!

    Posted by blunderoad on 03/24/08 at 10:26AM

    Just a question. How could Al get married in a catholic church with 3 divorces under his belt? I thought the catholic religion does not recognize divorce?

    Posted by ledsigns on 03/24/08 at 10:27AM

    Al was a great man, no matter how the press portrayed him. He loved himself, his family, his friends and he was always there for people in need.

    His impact on the community was immeasurable, as was the impact on the lives of the people who knew and worked for him.

    Please keep in mind when you read these comments that the only negative things you will hear about this man are from people who did not know him, or were envious of him.

    I offer you peace brother, where ever you may be and I look forward to seeing you again... My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family...

    Your friend forever.

    Posted by sleazy on 03/24/08 at 10:28AM

    I shot a game of pool with Al at the Swamp Room many years ago. He didn't know me but I knew who he was.........yes he won that game of pool. Very cool dude. Rest in peace...........

    Posted by softball531 on 03/24/08 at 10:52AM



    Posted by sugarpye on 03/24/08 at 11:05AM

    Al, U will B missed! U definitely was Nawlins and Arabi that is 4 SURE! U ain't from the Crescent City if U ain't colorful. This sure was Al

    Posted by jazz59 on 03/24/08 at 11:10AM

    BLUNDEROAD - An answer to your question.

    . . . " However, an archdiocesan spokesman pointed out that the ceremony respected canonical rule because only one of Mr. Copeland's weddings -- his first -- occurred in a church, and his wife from that wedding had died, thereby dissolving what the Catholic Church regards as a lifelong marriage bond."

    Posted by rikitikitavi on 03/24/08 at 11:18AM

    Somebody should commission a statue of Al Copeland, donate it to Jefferson Parish (or the parish could commission it) and put it somewhere along the parade route in Metairie. That would be Naturally N'awlins!

    Posted by bayouman on 03/24/08 at 11:19AM

    bad taste aside, the guy was a driving force in the food industry. Not just chicken either.
    His story can certainly serve as an inspiration to anyone with a desire to make their own way in life.

    The women he married all knew the drill. They'd be around as long as he wanted them. He managed to stay involved in the children's lives from what I gather but I'm sure there is a good bit of dysfunction involved.

    Lessons can be learned all around here. Bottom line with Copeland;
    " Go big or go home."

    Posted by sugarpye on 03/24/08 at 11:24AM

    Al was and is the man of Nawlins and Arabi! U ain't from Nawlins if you ain't colorful! That's outside or inside of yourself. My Mom loved for me to take her to see Al Christmas displays of his home in Metry every year. Al up there in Heaven with my Mom now, and I know she is tickled pink to see him! I want a poster of the Chicken King for my dining room, to go along side the NOLA artist, Thomas who designs the annual Jazz Fest Posters. Maybe Mr. Thomas will do one of Al this year for the festival, if not, I hope so. Al is a true New Orleanian! That a boy, Al!

    Posted by uphillride on 03/24/08 at 11:31AM

    Come on New Orleans. Al Copeland was a New Orleans success story. Shure he had personal issues. His death was reported all over the country! He was a kind and personable guy. His family and New Orleans will miss him.

    Posted by Govna on 03/24/08 at 11:34AM

    RIP Al. Thank you for your generosity.

    Posted by donnasw on 03/24/08 at 11:51AM

    I have the utmost respect for Al Copeland. He was a self made man. It was such an honor to work for him. My first job was as a manager in one of his stores. My family and I send our prayers to Al jr , Bonnie and the entire Copeland family.
    Rest In Peace AL

    Posted by StBParishnFL on 03/24/08 at 11:55AM

    I worked with Mr. Copeland and his 1st wife at the 1st location in Arabi in 1972. He owned the Popeyes on Judge Perez Dr. and a Tastee Donuts on St. Bernard Hwy in Arabi. I was in high school and I loved that job. I still remember looking at my paycheck with the "Chicken on the Run" logo on top. I still kid family and friends that I made Al famous. My job was to wash the chicken when it was delivered and sprinkle it with cayene pepper. I would pull back the skin and cake the pepper under it....trying to make the chicken as hot as I could. Little did I know that those cajuns were going to really love it that hot! The rest is history. I still eat and love Popeyes chicken, even here in Florida. My prayers go out to all family and friends.....so sad.

    Posted by gypsyvanlee on 03/24/08 at 12:17PM

    When you asked Judge B. to favor you in the custody battle.....I knew your days were numbered.
    You can't do "bad things" to women and expect a long life!

    Posted by cajundawg on 03/24/08 at 12:23PM

    I worked for Popeye's from 1991-1994, on and off through high school and college breaks. Have to say I'm proud of the experience and proud to have worked for a New Orleans original. I always like to share stories of those days with friends. While everyone who knew of Al in my circle would make off-the-cuff remarks here and there about his bizarre fashion sense or off the wall ego, we always had respect for what he'd achieved. The man made something great out of himself and that's more than many of us can hope to claim. I think the success in my own life is at least somewhat attributed to the long shifts and repeated grease burns I happily endured as a young Popeye's employee. Thanks, Al!

    Posted by wjhenfield on 03/24/08 at 12:33PM

    His fried chicken was not only better than any other, but when he owned Popeyes, it was in a league of its own.

    Posted by yamomanddem on 03/24/08 at 12:35PM

    Bad light on the man?

    Sure it did some good things, but beating your wife, paying off the judge to take your kids away on Christmas, etc...

    The man had some bad tendencies also. It seems mostly against women.

    In fact if I'm not mistaken, it was his first wife that developed the recipe, not him. And she got hardly nothing.

    Posted by keepingup on 03/24/08 at 12:35PM

    Spicy or Mild? -- sounds like a really good movie to me. A movie perfect for Hollywood South. I'd go see it.

    Posted by LuvdatNO on 03/24/08 at 12:39PM

    Al Copeland, Al Copeland, Al Copeland....how many people now know that name? And what a great New Orleans "character". Was it not Al Copeland who perpetuated the "Cajun" cuisine across the country? How many New Orleans businesses/restaurants benefitted from that alone? In addition, didn't ya'll read the part about the generous gifts to LSU, Delgado and the people of New Orleans?
    My sympathies to Chris (with whom my daughter Julia attended school) and the rest of the Copeland family. Al Copeland was a wonderful promoter of New Orleans and to me, a lovable, charitable character who I will miss.

    Posted by trynexttime on 03/24/08 at 12:45PM

    algerian, you posted something close to what I was thinking. The double-standard is incredible. Change the race of the guy in this story and the postings would be completely different. I thank god for being white in Louisiana, and it helped Al succeed too. He is considered a folk hero, and people use words like "quirky" to describe him!

    Posted by Pimpin247 on 03/24/08 at 12:46PM

    chumpsinnola....best post..oh so true....

    Posted by METRYISGREAT on 03/24/08 at 12:46PM

    For all these people posting negative things about him, you all are nothing but haters. Anybody who gets filthy rich will always have somebody hating them because they are mad they don't have there wealth. This article was good, Al Copeland was RELENTLESS never a quitter no matter what happened. rest in peace Mr. Copeland from a neighbor who never complained about stupid christmas light traffic and learned to take a side street. will always be proud to have live by you, you will always be the king of fried chicken known globally

    Posted by westwegan on 03/24/08 at 12:47PM

    god bless that man. if it were't for him, about 80% of new orleans would starve to death.

    Posted by kmanva on 03/24/08 at 12:51PM

    Not sure what everyone's so bugged about. This is a very objective article about a very public personality. Is anything in the article not true?Once he achieved wealth, he's story became very public and very much a part of New Orleans folklore.
    Surely he is to be admired for working his way up from nothing. He had a gift for creating good restaurants with good food. I still enjoy them.
    The Christmas displays were a joy to everyone who saw them. He gave money to charity.
    But he also had a fight with a rival in a restaurant and had multiple very ostentatious weddings, followed by very public divorces. These are not made up stories to make the man look bad. It's simply the truth.
    Once you achieve some level of fame, your life becomes an open book. He didn't mind the attention for the good stuff. You can't brush the bad under the rug just because he had the misfortune to die.

    Posted by trynexttime on 03/24/08 at 12:52PM

    nolahitman, fyi medically speaking the only "procedure" that a woman could get in Houston to guarantee that she wouldn't give birth to a girl is called an abortion. There are experimental things like "sperm sorting" but nothing exists yet thank god that can predetermine gender. I feel sorry for his daughters, there's nothing like being born to someone who doesn't want you. You'll notice that the T-P listed his male kids first, not in age order like they should have.

    Posted by gulfman5394 on 03/24/08 at 12:55PM

    He did have his problems, but what a guy!!I worked for a chiller rental company in the mid 90's. We were contacted by Al's people to rent a 20 degree chiller so kids could go ice skating for free at Christmas. He could not get the ice skating mat in time to do this, but it goes to show you how this man gave back to the community.

    Posted by Alnanny06 on 03/24/08 at 12:55PM

    I have gone through and read most of the comments. I am shocked at some of them. I'm not going to sit here and say how perfect Al was because he wasn't. The man made mistakes like all human beings do. But now is not the time to dwell on all the things he did wrong. Al has 4 kids who are still very young. Alex only 8, chandler just 5, and Chaz and Cassidy just babies. Now this is very sad, these young ones will never get to experience their dad like all of his grown kids got too. Unless you are a heartless person, you have to feel sorry for these babies who wont get to enjoy their father. I'm sure each and everyone of you have an Al Copeland story whether it be a good one or bad one, but don't try and think about that right now. Think about these kids. Al was a good father, an amazing father. I can say this because i watched it.

    This man will always be remembered! He went in peace yesterday morning and all the family was in Germany right by his side. He spent easter morning will all his kids, and his 13 grandkids. What better way for him to go!

    Posted by RMAGEE1979 on 03/24/08 at 12:56PM

    I worked in two of Al's restaurant's, Copeland's on St. Charles Ave. and I was part of the opening crew for the upstart Wrap-n-Roll franchises. I've met and spoke with the man personally on several different occasions....he was a class act. A little gawdy, but one heck of a nice guy, very inspiring. He was one of this city's unique souls and he will be missed. God Bless him, and my sympathies to his family.

    Ryan Magee

    Posted by RMAGEE1979 on 03/24/08 at 12:57PM

    P.S. He also threw one helluva Christmas Party!

    Posted by Bigfish64 on 03/24/08 at 12:57PM

    I thought that as a news orginazation you should display some Integrity. Your story focused mainly on any "bad" aspects of a good mans life.
    As a member of the Popeyes family & knowing Big Al since I was 10 years old I assure you the Good that he has brought to not only our community but anywhere he went, greatly outweighed the petty stuff you focused on.
    His endevours hepled guide & shape the paths of countless peoples lives.
    Thanks Big Al. You will be missed by us all.
    He is a true American Dream success story and we should all be so lucky to have to known him.

    Posted by Alnanny06 on 03/24/08 at 1:00PM

    For everyone wondering why he didn't stay in Houston, he went to Germany for some experiental research. He was willing to do anything.

    Posted by WingedWheel on 03/24/08 at 1:04PM

    Al Copeland is the quintessential American success story. This critics called him tacky, brash and just plain classless. Maybe he was. But he was also someone that everyone who thinks they can't make it should look to. Through hard work and determination he rose higher that most of us will ever go. He showed us that wealth and success are possible if you stop whinning and get off your but.
    Rest in Peace, Sir.

    Posted by gasmoney on 03/24/08 at 1:07PM

    For what it's worth, I never understood why his wrap-n-roll restaurants didn't make it. They were the best of his concept places. There wasn't a sandwich on that menu that wasn't good.

    I'm pretty sure George Rhodes developed that menu for him. We don't hear anything about GR these days but he was a good chef whose own restaurants never did much. I'm sure he's consulting some place. I loved the wrap and roll product. Good stuff.

    Posted by sunset1221 on 03/24/08 at 1:07PM

    I was very sad to hear last night of Mr.Copeland's passing.I'd like t extend
    my heartfelt sympathy to his children.
    I know he will be sadly missed.

    Posted by lakeviewlaw on 03/24/08 at 1:09PM

    Does anyone else see the irony in a man who made and lost and made fortunes on spicy food dying of the rarest form of cancer - in the salivary gland ? If I were a regular diner @ Popeyes, I would like to know if the spices used in the chicken were somehow linked to this disease. In his interview with Mr. Paulsen, AC said he tested every batch of chicken for years. May he rest in peace.

    Posted by smallwos on 03/24/08 at 1:20PM

    I still wanna know how he got all those annulments and continued to marry in the Catholic church.

    Posted by EyeLuvNOLA on 03/24/08 at 1:24PM

    Sad to see another great NOLA icon gone!

    RIP Big AL!

    Catholic Wedding ... To answer the 4th Wedding in the Church question ...

    Not only does Cathoic dotrine not recognize divorce, they also don't recognize marriages outside of the Catholic Church. Since his first wife died (and was the only other one he married in the Chruch) and his other two marriages were not recognized by the church, he was free to marry again in the Church because you can't get divorced if you're not married (wife 2&3). I'm saying I agree with this, but it is what it is.

    Posted by MRNICEGUY65 on 03/24/08 at 1:24PM

    I would guess that it might be from Botox treatments or facelift type treatment that reacted with his salivary glands. It is a rare form of cancer and Al was a rare type of person. His system was subject to a lot that normal folks are not exposed to.

    Posted by BUDDEE on 03/24/08 at 1:29PM



    Posted by DYMON on 03/24/08 at 1:32PM

    BUDDEE - I heard about the stroke in November. I also heard he died in November, but then they said that was a mistake.

    Was he really in Germany when this happened, or was he still comatose at East Jefferson?

    Posted by rmagee1979 on 03/24/08 at 1:34PM

    he was in the damn parades in feb...what the hell are you talking about?

    Posted by bayouman on 03/24/08 at 1:50PM

    I just saw him at the McDonalds down the street.

    He's ALIVE!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by lovethunder on 03/24/08 at 2:02PM

    A telephone call from Gio brought us to his corporate place over there in the black lava facaded offices round where the London motel is...Gio performed for him, I found him curious, a bit of a Warren Beatty complex and well all in all pleasant, all those poor chickens though..his notorious rivaling with Ann Rice, and he getting punched out at The Steakhouse..the xmas tree lights, Biscuits are good, Good Luck in Heaven Al R.I.P.

    Posted by chutche on 03/24/08 at 2:04PM

    Another painful loss to our city! I remember very well those wonderful Christmas displays at his Folse Dr. home. What a guy - he actually wanted to share Christmas joy with 1000s of youngsters from his hown town. What about those kids who received his "Secret Santa" gifts on Christmas Eve? Why not ask them how they felt when they looked under the tree? Our little part of the world is a lot darker due to the loss of this larger than life hard working human-being.
    God speed Big Al - most of us will miss you!

    Posted by deaconblue01 on 03/24/08 at 2:18PM

    Al was an interesting character with good and questionable qualities. My big question...why Munich and not M.D. Anderson?

    Posted by nolaguyindc on 03/24/08 at 2:25PM

    Well i just keep coming back to the article,and I have to say---Memories.

    I as well came from those same jects (St Thomas), and I do remember the white families---yes families that were there with other black families--yes families. Whether 1 or 2 parent households at the time we were families. I also am a product of the parent that taught and instilled hard work. To my sibs and me we were taught the value of tenacity, education, prowess, and determination.

    In his own way Mr C implored what he needed to implore. Along the way many things may have made him over zealous and a show off----but hell everyone can't be humble.

    I love Popeyes and trust me New Orleans, you are still associated with it. While I may live away, I can't wait to fly in and have Popeyes made in New Orleans with a red drink (there's no Barq's creme soda or strawberry in DC).

    So let's stop beating up on him, and to others he is not at the Pope's door for beatification either.

    Go out and get a 2 or 3 piece dinner. Don't do the combo madness. Do it the old way.

    Posted by bayoubanshee on 03/24/08 at 2:42PM

    New Orleans has such a mix of colorful characters and Al was one of them. Good for him and he lived his life like he wanted to without any reservations only known to him. I recommend everyone who is a true orleanian to read "Confederacy of Dunces" typical New Orleans. Great chicken Al and love the red beans.

    Posted by Alnanny06 on 03/24/08 at 2:47PM

    This comment is for rmagee1979: Al really was in Germany when he passed. He passed around 12:21. All his children and grand-children went up to Germany last weekend, some on friday and some on Tuesday. The whole family was with him yesterday while he passed. Al's funeral will be Monday, March 31st. Don't know anymore details yet. Arrangments are being made.

    Posted by hookandladdr on 03/24/08 at 2:51PM

    Al killed a lot of chickens in his days.
    I hope he doesn't have to deal with them in the hearafter.

    Posted by vote4me2day on 03/24/08 at 2:52PM

    Rest in peace you are no longer suffering in pain. You will be missed.

    Posted by FleurDuhLee on 03/24/08 at 2:53PM

    RIP Al. My thoughts are with his family. Controversial character of New Orleans, yes. Entertaining, yes. He will be missed.

    Posted by thedancer47 on 03/24/08 at 2:55PM

    So what if Al was a "bad boy " at times...he paid the cost to be the boss! He also provided jobs for beaucoup people, gave unselfishlessly to charitable organizations and individuals and did it all on sheer will and determination!

    The TP may have written an unflattering article but that's their way and the events did happen . But to us native New Orleanians, we still love and admire Al Copeland and that's what matters. RIP Al you fought a good fight!

    Posted by nawlinsnelly on 03/24/08 at 2:58PM

    A New Orleans Original, Proud to have known him.
    God bless his family and long live his memory.

    Posted by busybeee on 03/24/08 at 2:59PM

    Enjoyed the beautiful christmas lights every year since I was a child, then brought my own daughter to enjoy them. The one thing I did each Christmas was see Al Copeland's lights. My first job during high school was at Popeyes, which I really enjoyed. I remember working on Mardi Gras day and you would not believe the amount of chicken orders! We were paid double time and it was a great place to work.
    The article was not written well. It did not flow and focused on a petty things instead of all the good that Al Copeland brought to so many. The TP must realize that people from all over the world are going to read this poorly written article.

    Posted by SaintsGal212 on 03/24/08 at 3:08PM

    I can remember when I was younger Al Copeland being in the Mardi Gras parades and throwing fried chicken! I have forgotten all about that until last night when I was watching the news and it just all of a sudden came back to me. I can remember the people in the crowd going crazy. He is going to be missed!

    Posted by sewinmama on 03/24/08 at 3:15PM

    RIP Al, God Bless You and your entire family -

    My memories: I remember Al and Luan riding the speedboat in the Metairie parades, one year my birthday was on Mardi Gras day. I yelled "Al, Al" and held up my "It's My b-day today" sign and he threw me a ton of beads. That really made my birthday!!!

    One of my brothers' ex-girlfriends worked for him at his Clearview Pkwy. offices and said he created and tried all the recipes himself, sometimes going to the offices in the middle of the night.

    We would always to parades on Bonnabel and every Mardi Gras day walk down & get our chicken at the Popeyes on Vets., it wasnt Mardi Gras day without it - and the Weds. before Thanksgiving, when we are cooking for thurs., we always go to Popeyes and get chicken for dinner !!!

    Those are my memories -

    He was a self-made man who came from nothing, everything he had he worked for.

    May he rest in peace, God Bless Al Copeland and his entire family, including Luan & Alex. My prayers are with all of them.

    Posted by pelloquin on 03/24/08 at 3:18PM

    New Orleans lost a true icon, both in terms of character and personality. I found it almost inspirational how he always pulled himself up in the face of adversity, whether it was poverty or bankruptcy. I see nothing wrong with the TP article -- it was an accurate story of his life, both the good and the bad. I enjoyed it.

    Posted by nawlinsnelly on 03/24/08 at 3:22PM

    How dare this person ALNANNY06 write burial plans, or the names and ages of Mr. Copelands children on a blog.Please show respect ASAP

    Children who commit crimes, are protected by the law in regards to publishing their names, what have these children done to have their names and ages announced at this sad time?

    Posted by Alnanny06 on 03/24/08 at 3:31PM

    Nawlinselly, I wasn't trying to offend anyone. I do apologize if i offened you in anyway. I just would like these people who are being rude to take a second and think about these young ones and how it will be for them to grow up without Big Al round! Again I do apologize if my comments offended anyone!

    Posted by westwegan on 03/24/08 at 3:31PM

    i should clarify my previous statement...Without his fried chicken, 80% of the city would starve to death.

    Posted by metryemt on 03/24/08 at 3:37PM

    alnanny06, you did NOTHING wrong to apologize about. Thanks for the funeral info, it might even be bigger than Harry's funeral. Besides, nawlinsnelly must be stuck on stupid or something. The kids didn't commit any crimes, nor did anyone say they did. Anybody who knows anythign about AL and the family would know their ages anyway. She just needs to chill out. RIP Al.

    Posted by WPlarson on 03/24/08 at 3:45PM

    My condolences to the family of Al. He held a special place in the hearts of Janet and me. I will never forget the respect Al had for Janet while she served the company as his personal secretary.

    Thank you for the memories that are indelible to this day.

    Posted by lruneau1nola on 03/24/08 at 3:53PM

    my heart goes out to his entire family.
    some people might not agree with how he lived his life, but that is really no one's business.
    the fact is, another new orleans icon is gone, and we can't bring him back. everyone please keep your negative comments to your self, and show some respect to his grieving family. al is now with his parents and i'm sure he's happy!!
    we love you al and miss you very much.

    Posted by sidgoop on 03/24/08 at 3:53PM

    Back in the late 80's, my friends and I were involved in a scavenger hunt. One of the items was one of the spotlights in his garden that projected a "AC" onto the walls of his house. Well, we drove by to see if maybe we could knock on his door and get one that was burnt out or something. We were greeted by Luan Hunter, who told us to hang on so she could go check. A few minutes passed by, and she came out with some stationary that said, "From the desk of Al Copeland - I. O. U. one spotlight". It was signed by Al himself. I wish I would have hung onto that thing, but like all pieces of our youth, it got lost somewhere in time. Thanks for the points, Al. We'll miss ya!

    Posted by LynnCT on 03/24/08 at 3:54PM

    In 25 years of living in New Orleans, I have to say working Al and Jennifer's wedding was one of the most bizzarro surreal things I experienced. When Al entered the reception area, a guy from Vermont took one look at him and said "My God! He's a cross between Elvis and Little Richard." Perhaps that summed him up in a nut shell.
    One of my best memories of that night was when Jennifer graciously left the wedding party to take little Alex into the house to tend to him personally. She had many offers of help, but chose to handle the child herself.
    Al and his antics will be missed.

    Posted by NShoreDiva on 03/24/08 at 3:59PM

    My thoughts and prayers are with the Copeland family through this very difficult time! RIP Al! Whatever Mr. Copeland did in his lifetime, he did it HIS way. He lived life to the fullest and although he made mistakes (we all do), he had a good heart and made a positive difference in this community. We should not focus on his mistakes, but celebrate his life and the good things he did. Let's all go buy a box of Popeyes chicken tonight for dinner and say, "Here's to you, Al". Thanks for all the memories. You will sure be missed!!

    Posted by Kalashnikova on 03/24/08 at 4:02PM

    sidgoop -
    What a nice story. Like some of the others here. Hope there are more to come.

    Posted by ledsigns on 03/24/08 at 4:05PM


    Your facts are wrong! Who exactly would listen to someone named hitman in the first place?


    You are indeed mistaken. His first wife had nothing to do with the recipe.


    You are absolutely wrong. Alvin came down sick at Thanksgiving dinner and flew to California with his brother Gil. There, he took treatment for pneumonia and was diagnosed with cancer. A doctor from Munich was flown in but refused to work and administer the protocol treatments in the USA.

    Most recently, about 2 weeks ago Alvin, Al Jr. and Gilbert flew overseas and made a couple of stops along the way in England and Italy, prior to going to Munich for treatment.

    I don't what kind of sick thrill you people get from spreading innuendo and bogus stories like this. All it does it hurt his family and friends.

    As far as the TP article is concerned, there was no need to bring his dirty laundry out all through it. Every rich man that passes away has dirty laundry, yet you don't read about it in their obituary...

    Please folks, the man is gone, let's have some respect and stop all the made up stories and rumors!

    Posted by PorkBath on 03/24/08 at 4:07PM

    I'm very confused by so many peoples' negative opinion of this article. I don't think it puts Al in a bad light. Much of the article is very complimentary and showcases his hard work, competitive desire, charitable instincts, and business intelligence.

    However, the author must mention the many escapades that were also a part of Mr. Copeland's life. Al brought attention to himself with his many unusual and gigantic wedding celebrations, full page ads denouncing Ann Rice, and multiple showcases of wealth like the Christmas lights and racing team displays. To omit these antics from his obituary would be dishonest.

    Posted by Champ01 on 03/24/08 at 4:13PM

    You must be close to the family. Stop reading these comments. You will only find off the cuff remarks by people who do this on a daily basis. You will only be disappointed. These comments never result in anything positive, just gossip.

    Posted by romaniandad on 03/24/08 at 4:20PM

    New Orleans lost another great character. Thanks Al, for sponsoring "Popeye and Pals" for so many years. The biggest "Captain Jim Double pumper" ever. May you rest in peace.

    Captain Jim
    a.k.a. Jim Clarke

    Posted by bertusfamily on 03/24/08 at 4:20PM

    Al Copelands personal life is none of anybodys business, it is a disgrace that his personal business is displayed in such a disrespectful manner particularly at the time of this death.

    Mr. Copeland was a hard worker, had a hard work ethic that was only to be envied and modelled.

    His food will remain one of my top fave foods.

    Mrs. Bertus
    Australian in NOLA

    Posted by atm2400slm on 03/24/08 at 4:34PM

    frankieagogo- it has been stated that only one his first marriage happened in a church and therefore is the only one recognized by the church. His first wife is deceased and could therefore, marry in a Catholic church.

    Posted by atm2400slm on 03/24/08 at 4:36PM

    frankieagogo- only his first marriage was in a church and therefore, the only one recognized by the church. His first wife is deceased and therefore, he was free to marry again in the Catholic church.

    Posted by BasilMoreau on 03/24/08 at 4:44PM

    So long Al. I remember YOU selling me chicken at the Arabi store and many years later coming down in your helicopter at West End Park, one Easter Sunday, and being kind to my new son. Now I live on Folse, not far from your Christmas lights and regularly see your offfspring around Metairie, St Ann, the parades, the Hornets games, etc....You'll always be remembered fondly as New Orleans' own and good for you. The way you made it is the way it should be made. I'm 'eatin Popeyes all week....

    Posted by Jebbers on 03/24/08 at 5:05PM

    hey mrs bertus im also an australian living in new orleans, im from melbourne and live in chalmette, how about you?

    Posted by jebbers on 03/24/08 at 5:07PM

    hey mrs bertus, im also from australia and living in nola, im from melbourne, how about you?

    Posted by Cocahoe on 03/24/08 at 5:40PM

    If anyone was to make a movie of his life story, I would be the first in line to see it. It would have everything, action, romance, comedy, drama. He was one of a kind.

    Rest in peace Al.

    Posted by RogerMoore on 03/24/08 at 6:02PM

    I was on the Causeway the day his raceboat caught on fire. You could easily see it burning from the bridge.

    I was at the meeting in Mandeville when he was trying to put up the mansion with a Helicopter pad.

    I remember endless childhood debates of did they use syringes to inject the spice in the chicken.

    I remember seeing him at Jagers on the lake.

    And the showroom. That was great.

    I live in Los Angeles now. I read the headlines on NOLA regularly. Every time I'd go camping, I'd stop at the Popeye's in the Fox Hills mall and get a big box of spicy fried chicken. Everybody would eat it! The country boys, the granola girls. No matter what their diet was, everyone would stop to wolf down a piece of Popeyes chicken.

    They shut down the Popeyes at the mall.

    I'm going to drive over to Santa Monica to grab a huge box of Spicy Chicken tonight!

    I'll miss you Al! And I'll think a good thought for your family.

    Posted by babsjohnson on 03/24/08 at 6:11PM

    I met him opening day at Super Popeyes in Metry. They served free en trees and he greeted everyone personally.

    Posted by uptown4eva on 03/24/08 at 6:16PM

    He threw the best christmas parties at his home on transcontinental.

    Posted by hotpotot on 03/24/08 at 6:16PM

    May God Bless you Copeland family during your loss.

    Posted by wwbev711 on 03/24/08 at 6:33PM

    I worked for Al for two years, he once came into my restaurant and found that the hot line (Wrap & Roll Cafe) was not working, told me he would rather us shut the restaurant down instead of serving sub par food. 3 years later I was the F&B manager at Morton's and was there the night the "Battle of the Millionaires on the Bayou" took place. A night I'll always remember. By the way, the Guidry's did start it, no offense to them. But Al wasn't going to take any crap from them or anyone. He was at times an SOB, but was a truly fair man to work for, and I have nothing but respect for him and his drive. We all grew up loving that chicken from Popeye's (I can afford an comma), and in part to Mr. Copeland. God bless his soul, may he rest in peace, and my prayers are with his family and extended family.

    Posted by sfebayseller on 03/24/08 at 6:49PM

    I moved to New Orleans 3 months after the storm from San Francisco and as such I really did'nt even know who this person Al Copeland was, let alone the fact that he was a highly sucessful self made millionare? But as I started attending several high-brow local events, My friends would point him out to me and tell me some of his story. I was intrigued by what heard and I made it a point to introduce myself to him by the second time he and I were in the same room. I have since had the pleasure of meeting this amazing man 9 times since then and on several occasions we spoke at great length about who he was and how he had become what he was in present day among other things. I found him to be friendly, genuine and very open. Thank you Mr. Copeland for all your words of encouragment and taking the time to share who you were with me "The crazy bald guy from San Francisco" I for one will miss seeing and talking with you.

    Posted by jjj444 on 03/24/08 at 7:02PM

    This is for his children, Rest In Peace Mr. Copeland

    Dad...so many images come to mind
    whenever I speak your name;
    It seems without you in my life
    things have never been the same.

    What happened to those lazy days
    when I was just a child;
    When my life was consumed in you
    in your love, and in your smile.

    What happened to all those times
    when I always looked to you;
    No matter what happened in my life
    you could make my gray skies blue.

    This is for his children, Rest In Peace Mr. Copeland

    Dad, some days I hear your voice
    and turn to see your face;
    Yet in my turning...it seems
    the sound has been erased.

    Dad, who will I turn to for answers
    when life does not make sense;
    Who will be there to hold me close
    when the pieces just don't fit.

    Oh, Dad, if I could turn back time
    and once more hear your voice;
    I'd tell you that out of all the dads
    you would still be my choice.

    Please always know I love you
    and no one can take your place;
    Years may come and go
    but your memory will never be erased.

    Today, Jesus, as You are listening
    in your home above;
    Would you go and find my dad
    and give him all my love.

    Posted by gypsy747 on 03/24/08 at 7:44PM

    My family and I had the pleasure to meet this man and his family in 1990 at his light display. For a man with the money that he had you would have never none it. I found him to be one of the most down to earth people that I have ever met. Al you will be sadly missed.

    Posted by babsw on 03/24/08 at 8:01PM

    I know Al has a big smile on his face.He knew some people never liked him. But they ate his chicken.So say what you want we all made him a rich man. God bless all of his family and friends.

    Posted by expatnola on 03/24/08 at 8:03PM

    I worked in the Popeye's Airline Hiway office for 5 years 20 years ago. Working within the rarified atmosphere that was Al Copeland's rarely meant having a dull day at the office. Did we have fun! I cherish those years and the friends I made while working there. I am deeply saddened by his death. My thoughts are with Al, Jr., his siblings, grandchildren and a very special hug to Gilbert. I simply adored the man, his energy and his verve. Not only am I having a two piece dinner tomorrow night in his honor, I'm going to sport my 5 year Popeye's pin. Godsped and Rest In Peace, you've been busy, dear Al. I'll never forget you.
    Lauren Kellar
    West Palm Beach FL

    Posted by tueflhund on 03/24/08 at 8:13PM

    Bottom line - nobody is all good or all bad. AC was: Good (hard working, personable, creative) and bad (tacky, the worst nouveaux riche characteristics, materialistic).

    Posted by manieri on 03/24/08 at 8:29PM

    You will be missed. From manierienterprises.com

    Posted by pedroplay on 03/24/08 at 8:31PM

    I thought they were pretty easy on him considering the true extent of his exploits. However, it is in poor taste to talk about all of the controversy after he has passed.
    In typical TP fashion, they never report any interesting news until it has ceased to be news.

    Posted by SarahBeee on 03/24/08 at 8:48PM

    Is it in poor taste to write history?

    Posted by lamomof1 on 03/24/08 at 8:54PM

    im not trying to be disrespectful in any way, but does anyone know what kind of cancer he had? it must have been pretty serious to travel to germany for treatment. what a shame. i liked his flamboyant personality. didn't even know he was ill. my prayers to his family.

    Posted by powerpakt on 03/24/08 at 8:59PM


    Posted by powerpakt on 03/24/08 at 9:01PM

    lamomof1 none taken just read the entire write-up. the answers are there

    Posted by anniemaj on 03/24/08 at 9:05PM

    Not only is Popeye's the best chicken I've ever eaten, but the aroma is HEAVENLY! I always thought that if someone could invent an air freshener that smells just like Popeye's chicken, they'd be a millionaire overnight.

    Posted by waldi45 on 03/24/08 at 9:24PM

    In these post Katrina years as a New Orleanian I have come to appreciate everything New Orleans. Al Copeland was one of those cherished New Orleans characters. He was always a true promoter of New Orleans and a lover of the flavor of the city. This city will not be the same without him. May you rest in peace.

    Posted by rsw1962 on 03/24/08 at 10:13PM

    My prayers are with the Copeland family. R.I.P BIG AL.

    Posted by busybeee on 03/25/08 at 12:20AM

    See the New York Times article http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/25/business/25copeland.html
    Times Picayune should have done Al Copeland & the City of New Orleans justice by writing a decent story. It was very poorly written and I don't just mean the content. We can only hope for a decent follow up article to this sad ending for Al Copeland, our home grown celebrity.

    Posted by nachuresbest on 03/25/08 at 1:13AM


    Posted by Luzziana on 03/25/08 at 2:06AM

    Dearest Copeland Family,Please know your in our thoughts, and Prayers, during the lose of such a wonderful Father, Grandfather,Friends and Loved ones.
    May you all know how Big Al, made a huge impact on so many peoples lives , in many communities across the country, for positive changes.
    Please know My Family, grieves with you, each one of you, and know your each struggling with broken hearts over losing your Dad,uncle, brother and dear friend.
    My Family grieves with you. Love each other and don't let No one break your Spirit . Your Dad is watching over you .Rise above unthoughtful people.
    Know Your Dad did it his way . Continue His drive and strength to over come defeat .
    His Memories will always be cherished.He was special in millions of ways ..

    Posted by hawaiianbud on 03/25/08 at 5:25AM

    Al... Rest in peace my friend...My condolences go out to Al Jr., Bonnie and Christopher and the rest of Al's children and grandchildren. I worked in the commissary/warehouse for Al in Metarie back in 1976 - 1978, occasionally seeing he and his wife Mary come in . Al surrounded himself with good people like the Lecompte's, Bub Kimball, the Goodicks, Stan Ware and of course his brothers...Al was a giving person...very generous individual...good father...was a competitive race boat driver/champion.
    Aloha Al!

    Posted by noladrummer on 03/25/08 at 6:50AM

    Al would have loved this article. He did live hard, he did have failed marriages and he was new money. It is all of that is true and he never hid any of it. He was also a local icon, a rags to riches success story and an inspiration for future entrepreneurs everywhere.

    Posted by phoenixheart on 03/25/08 at 8:06AM

    In response to dninc. Mr Copelands "empire" will not be handle by his family/sons. It will now be overseen by a board of direectors made up of bankers and the current CEO of one of his companies. Unfortunately this CEO is not from N.O. but instead from Nebraska. He can't stand New Orleans/the area/the people or apparently anything it stands for. He always made fun of Al because he didn't finish school much less attend college. I don't see you, Mr. Chapman with your college degrees, having your own successful empire, instead you leach off others and make fun of them while doing it. I find this very sad and unfortunate. There are a lot of people out there now wondering how many restaurants and manufacturing facilities this "board" will decide to shut down and put so many out of work.
    My hat is very humbly off to Al Copeland and what he stood for. Yes, he was an extravigant, colorful individual. But you know what, he made it, he pulled himself out of the muck and mire and he made it. He had every right to spend his wealth any way he saw fit.....it was his. But he shared as much as he spent on himself and that is a lot more than can be said of most people.

    Posted by sweethomeMS on 03/25/08 at 8:29AM

    Thanks, Al. You'll be missed.

    Posted by WetBankguy on 03/25/08 at 9:39AM

    From a little chicken-shack on St. Claude to the manse on Folse Drive, Copeland bestrode his city like a paper-maché Carnival colossus rocking down Veterans Boulevard atop a flashing triple-decker float. He raced world class offshore speedboats, flitted about in his “chicken copter” and his Maserati, and caught and released trophy wives like a tournament fisherman. ...

    More here: http://toulousestreet.wordpress.com

    Posted by bertusfamily on 03/25/08 at 9:41AM


    Posted by bertusfamily on 03/25/08 at 9:44AM

    Furthermore, i must add that reading this assumed addition or poor attempt of an obituary (call it what you like) was like reading something out of the Sydney Morning Heralds Obituary section on a Sunday morning with a splash of an editorial from the National Enquirer (a celebrity trash magazine).

    I am confident his funeral will be a smashing turnout all the same.

    My condolences to the Copeland Family, you are in my prayers.

    Mrs. Bertus
    Aussie in NOLA

    Posted by ericwp5 on 03/25/08 at 9:57AM

    I think this article was informative and to say the least, a true summary of Mr. Copelands life. Not disrespectful in the least. I think that last line should have read.."fast women and beautiful cars..."

    Posted by jayb76 on 03/25/08 at 11:11AM

    the more stories i read about the rich and famous the more i question if money can really buy happiness. His story kinda reminds me of the movie The Pursuit of Happiness.

    but was Mr. Copeland really happy?

    we'll probably never know. I'd love to see a movie made about his life.

    but he sure made many millions happy with his fried chicken, gotta love that chicken.

    my prayers to u Mr. Copeland and thx for your wonderful example of perserverance.

    Posted by mabu on 03/25/08 at 11:12AM

    One thing they won't say about me is that I ever stole someone's property, or blatantly took advantage of them. I don't care of I'm not remembered because I tied up traffic in the neighborhood, bribed a judge or got into a fistfight with a bunch of criminals in a steakhouse.

    I will fondly remember Al Copeland though. Every time I would pull my little motorboat up next to Jaegers and see that he had half the dock reserved for his boat -- as if he owned the waterfront. Thanks Al!

    Posted by mabu on 03/25/08 at 11:18AM

    By the way, Al Copeland is indeed "Naturally Nawlin's" Like most of New Orleans entrepreneurs, he pissed away his empire making ego-driven bad business deals. The decision to acquire Church's was one of the dumbest things ever. Popeyes was already putting Church's out of business. And he lost his baby because he insisted on ramming the nail into Church's coffin himself. How ironic. As a result, Popeyes, not unlike Schwegmanns, K&B and many other "institutions" is now more of a memory than a New Orleans icon.

    And Fire and Ice... has anybody eaten there? Seriously.. it seems like it was decorated by an epileptic on LSD, the food is horrible (deep fried avacado spring rolls? WHAT?) Anyone know what happens when you deep fry avocado? You don't want to know.

    On the other hand, I have to give it to Copeland for creating the world's best onion rings. But man was his chicken and biscuits good, but those onion rings... and I don't even know where you can get them anymore because half the Popeyes don't serve them. That's the real loss.

    Posted by cajunlassie on 03/25/08 at 11:25AM

    I currently live in Denver and their version of spicy chicken is not close to what you get in NO. I'm glad they brought back onion rings, theirs are the best. Let's hope the corporation that "won" doesn't change anything and put anybody out of business. That's not what Al would want to leave as his legacy.

    RIP Big Al and condolences to the family.

    Posted by nolainkc on 03/25/08 at 11:45AM

    Al was truly an inspiration to anyone who was the fire of success burning in their belly. Trixietampa has the right idea...if you don't have anything nice to say...SHUT UP! His family is kind, thoughtful, colorful, and deserves respect. Al was the "SOUL" of new orleans, and was proud to call it home.

    Posted by NShoreDiva on 03/25/08 at 11:55AM

    mabu...you sound very bitter. Perhaps something did not go the way you wanted it as it related to Mr. Copeland. That does not mean that he was this awful person. I run a business and I have had to make difficult decisions that may have not made someone happy. I would venture to say that those same people understand that it was "business" and that calling me names and personally attacking me doens't do them justice. To top it off, you use this board at the time of his death to selfishly seek some sort of gain!! AND, if you hated this man so much, why is that you would eat at one of his restaurants???

    mabu...sorry you have such hatred and bitterness in your heart that you choose to ignore decency and respect. I will pray for you!

    My thoughts and prayers are with the Copeland family and I hope that everyone uses this board to show some respect for them!!!!

    Posted by formerlyno on 03/25/08 at 12:01PM

    Al's record speaks for itself - I used to use his fiasco with the Church's buyout of what happens when business people get impatient. I think they forgot the person who died when one of the overpowered boats stuck another boat. There is a difference between famous - and infamous.

    Posted by Alnanny06 on 03/25/08 at 12:01PM

    MABU: If you know Big Al like you say you do, as far as your property situation, Fire and Ice's decorations, that you obviously feel are gaudy, that is what Al's taste was. He liked metallic colors and things of that nature. If you feel that the food is horrible thats, fine but what do the decorations of any resturant have to do with the taste of food served. NOTHING. I'm sure many people would agree with me on this and many people who had the pleasure of knowing Al, know that his taste was very unusual but hey what someone likes somone else will always dislike. Most of the time though people keep their dislikes to themselves. It very strange how you start off bashing Big Al and then go on to say how good his chicken and biscuits are. This comment is not to offend you in anyway. And one last thing Popeyes is and will always be a New Orleans icon.

    Posted by sasefid on 03/25/08 at 1:26PM

    Sounds to me like some people are very jealous of a wonderful man. If you really knew Al and his family you couldn't help but love them. He was a very thoughtful person. Al worked hard and played hard. AS THE SONG GOES: I DID IT MY WAY!!!!! and Al did! My love and thoughts go out to all of the family and people that loved and knew Al. You will be missed.

    Posted by hcrob91 on 03/25/08 at 2:10PM

    I remember as a kid in 80's parking down the street from Big Al's House during Christmas. It became a family tradition as my brothers and sisters and I would first go to 2 houses that were a few blocks away from his. I think one was the Swans who lived on Transcontinental and had giant moving figures in the window. Then we would go down one of the side streets and see an amazing displays of animated figures and talking Frosty. Then as the finale we would make our way to Big Als'. Sometimes he'd be outside greeting everyone and I could see his eyes glowing as he saw the big smiles on my younger sisters' faces. It says a lot that his house is the only one that still decorates like that and now I have a daughter who cant wait to see it every year. Miss ya Al..

    Posted by RAIRAI28 on 03/25/08 at 4:24PM


    DONT BE A PLAYER HATER!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by lorisaints on 03/25/08 at 5:37PM

    Oh, so many great memories of Al. Here are a few:

    Ordering popeye's for Mardi Gras EVERY year

    "Come on over to Copeland's"

    Al's special style of throwing Mardi Gras beads, not just tossing, but maybe tossing over opposite arm -- something with flair!

    His cars and boats seen from I-10

    the fight with Anne Rice

    The great hair and clothes

    Christmas lights and the threat of one day not having them

    The wedding to Luan and the subsequent change of color motif for Popeye's to fushia and teal

    The Cinderella wedding

    Al, I will miss you and your speedboat at Mardi Gras, but I hope I'll always have Popeye's!!!!

    Posted by arbrock02 on 03/25/08 at 6:19PM

    What is wrong with you people? How is this article disrespectful? Be specific. The article related how Mr. Copeland rose from a poor background to make quite a success of himself, and, further highlighted some of his ups and downs, mistakes and triumphs (read life) along the way.

    I used to live in NO (and even fondly recall meeting Mr. Copeland one evening at the Copelands at St. Chales and Napolean)and still miss it from time to time. However, the protests regarding this article make me wonder what local prism people are perhaps viewing things through that would cause them to be so upset about this treatment of Mr. Copeland's life.

    Posted by precious007 on 03/25/08 at 6:31PM

    My Family and I would like to send our condolences to the Copeland family. Your in our thoughts and prayers, he will be deeply missed May he rest in peace. I was honored to have met him when I did. God Bless You!!!

    Posted by rfkent on 03/25/08 at 7:54PM

    Mabu, I find it refreshing to see that you don't worship the ground Copeland lies in like so many others do. I've always thought of him as a detestable human being with questionable moral values, regardless of his vast empire. My reaction to him has always been, "Yeah, I get it, you're rich/women are attracted to money/your junk works, etc." Anyway, for those interested in a movie of Copeland's life, it's already been made -- it's called "Citizen Kane", and the plot is more or less the same.

    Posted by nola4u on 03/25/08 at 9:37PM

    cause God likes Popeyes chicken too

    Posted by 4door on 03/25/08 at 10:12PM


    Posted by bayoulee12 on 03/25/08 at 11:14PM

    The man who once owned all the church's, died on Easter Sunday. Now Al is frying chicken for the real Saints in his Black and Gold. For the love of God get us to the promise land Al. please before we are all in heaven with you.

    Posted by metairiesux on 03/26/08 at 12:15AM

    Ok chumpsinnola, Anne Rice was a fiction novelist. Therefore, she never claimed New Orleans was a city infested with vampires. She wrote fictional books about vampires in NOLA. Furthermore, New Orleans is a very well-documented haunted city. You said fried chicken was more New Orleans than Anne Rice. She grew up here too for your information. Next time you write you should decipher the difference between reality and fiction. I hope your arteries do not clog from all the fried lard you eat.

    Posted by metairiesux on 03/26/08 at 12:19AM

    rkent, I agree about what mabu said as well. I think many people on this posting are deluded. Why look at morals when you can make a family rich by eating artery clogging chicken? What a great man, he had a fast food chain!!!!! That makes him a smart business man, not a great man. Maybe everyone should support groups that are truly working hard to do good for their city. No that would take too much time away from their chicken eating schedule.

    Posted by champ1222 on 03/26/08 at 2:03AM

    To MABU, You really sound like a class act! Whining about your personal problems,trashing the family. Do you feel better now, talk about a Heartless human! How can you close your eyes at night knowing how this man suffered from this horrific disease & the family is struggling to over come the lost of their father! All you talk about is your financial losses & fried Avacado Egg Rolls! Hey Loser take it to court not this forum! Lighten up! FYI, last time I checked I don't believe Al or any of his family members were charged or convicted of bribeing a judge.

    Posted by Bonzo1 on 03/26/08 at 8:42AM

    Some people say that Al was gaudy. Al's gaudiness is what made Al who he was. It was his signature. He was flamboyant so naturally his taste was going to be flamboyant also.

    I had all the respect in the world for Al, gaudy or not. He accomplished what most of us could only dream of.

    Al, may you RIP.

    Posted by Alnanny06 on 03/26/08 at 10:46AM

    There is going to be a piece of Big Al everywhere we go forever. One of his restaurants’ on every corner, his museum on the service road of causeway, his Christmas light display, and of course one of his boats riding down vets every Mardi Gras Day. This mans spirit will never die. I had the pleasure of working with this man on a daily basis and at times, it was tough. But it is something I will always remember, the good and the bad. His unusual taste in decor and his wild personality is what kept that man young at heart!! For all these wonderful people writing these ruthless post, you know that if you were out and you saw Big Al walk in somewhere your head turned, whether you had a good experience with him or not. He wasn’t and perfect and he wasn’t an angel but he was a good man. He came from the bottom and worked his way to the top. He did something every human being wishes they could do, and he lived the life we all dream about. It is pathetic how some of you can sit here and bash him for the way he lived. Some of you seem very bitter and very jealous. For all the others posting comments from the heart, keep ‘em comin!

    Posted by redrosie on 03/26/08 at 1:37PM

    Yes, Al Copeland came up from the hood. He built all of his businesses through hard work. He married his women and supported his kids. His good deeds were many. In a culture where the president has sex in the White House and politicians preach hate and racism, how can you judge Al? Who are you to judge him? For some who are jealous - EAT YOUR HEART OUT!! You're right -- your life will not be remembered at all! Also, he married the women in his life. He lifted them up and lavished them with wealth. They fell in love with a handsome, wealthy man who gave them the world.
    Don't disrespect their character. Some people live their lives hating, while Al lived his life really living. My prayers are for all of them.

    Posted by NShoreDiva on 03/26/08 at 2:11PM

    Okay...I guess I just have to recognize that no matter how I try or anyone else, there will ALWAYS be hateful, disrespectful and bitter people who quite frankly sound very jealous of a successful business man. It is interesting to me that these people who very apparently hate Al Copeland choose to frequent this board and consume their time reading these responses.

    I hope you all will try living more productive, positive lives. So that when your unfortunate time comes, people will have something nice to say of you.

    AGAIN, can we try to use this time and this board to show some respect? If you can't say anything nice, move on...why are you even here????

    Posted by twolonglegs on 03/26/08 at 3:51PM


    Posted by twolonglegs on 03/26/08 at 3:53PM

    Don't know where you are but every Popeye's here in the New Orleans area has onion rings.
    I did not care for Al one way or the other. May he rest in peace though.

    Posted by banzai21 on 03/26/08 at 5:59PM

    I doubt anyone speaking negatively of Copeland is doing so out of jealousy. Some folks just happen to find his behavior reprehensible. The paper's article is also not being disrespectful in repeating the scandalous aspects of his life, either. The man must have quite a hold on you if you've been led to believe he was a perfect being. As far as local celebrity status goes, I felt sadder when Harry Lee died, and I'll feel sad again when local faves like Bob Breck and Angela Hill die, but I can't say I'll miss an attention-hog like Copeland just because he sprinkled spices on fried chicken and showed off his oversized dinghy every Mardi Gras.

    Posted by sasefid on 03/26/08 at 9:22PM

    NShoreDiva I like your comment and I agree with you. Sounds to me like some of the folks really have a problem. All you can do is pray for them.
    I have had to stop reading the negative ones because I get so mad!!!

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