History & Staff
We have years of experience caring for families, from all walks of life. Each family comes to us because they know we are leaders in our profession, dedicated to excellence in service, and have the highest integrity.
Although the Copeland Funeral Home, Inc. has been in business since June 1, 1991, you could say that we, the Copeland Family, have been a part of the New Paltz community since 1966. When we opened in 1991, Terry Copeland was well known and well established in the community.
He was the town funeral director. Terry knew that starting a business was a risk, but a risk people hoped he would take. The site for the funeral home was chosen for the quiet open space and for its country location.
The building was built to be a funeral home, as opposed to buying an old building and hope that it suits your needs. For seven years, hundreds of funerals were held in the original building. We realized that the families we served needed more room; therefore in 1998, we expanded to the present building. The addition included a bigger chapel with a cathedral ceiling in the back part of the building and in the front; the chapel was expanded to double in size.
Terry, with Pat his wife by his side, ran the business together in the beginning. In early 1992, their son, Tim, joined them to help with the ever growing business. They all worked together until Terry’s death on January 4th, 2001. Tim said “My father taught me everything he knew except how to be the family; with his death he has accomplished that. It is his final lesson.” Tim decided to carry on with what his father had started.
Our Valued Staff
Paul R. Hammerl, Owner
Paul is a native New Yorker, having been born and raised in Buffalo. After taking a death and dying course in college, Paul became interested in funeral service. Enrolling and graduating from the American Academy McAllister Institute of Funeral Service, Paul became New York State licensed in 1989. He also attained a Bachelor of Science degree from Medaille College in New York.
In 1998, Paul moved to Fairfield County in Connecticut where he first managed the Raymond Funeral Home in Norwalk and then the Hoyt Funeral Home in New Canaan. Always having desired to own and operate his own funeral home, Paul purchased the Simpson-Gaus Funeral Home in November of 2011.
In March of 2018, Paul purchased a second funeral home, the Copeland Funeral Home in New Paltz.
Paul is currently a parishioner of St. Joseph’s Church, where he serves as a Lector, Eucharistic Minister, and a Parish Council board member. He is also a member of the Ulster County Chamber of Commerce, the Knights of Columbus (Kingston Council #275) where he is a fourth degree knight, and both the New York State Funeral Directors Association and the National Funeral Directors Association.
Paul lives above the funeral home and when he is not serving the community, he enjoys restoring various art deco artifacts and classic cars.
Bernard L. Hamilton, Funeral Director
Bernard L. “Bernie” Hamilton, born and raised in Kingston, NY, began his funeral career at age 16 at the Frank H. Simpson Funeral Home, Inc., now the Simpson-Gaus Funeral Home.
Bernie is a 1975 graduate of SUNY Farmingdale, receiving an Associates Degree in Applied Science in Mortuary Science and has been a licensed funeral director since 1976.
He has worked at several area funeral homes and had the pleasure of working with Terry Copeland at the former Pine Funeral Home in New Paltz from 1988 until 1991 and continued helping Terry and Tim Copeland at the Copeland Funeral Home whenever they needed assistance. “It has been a privilege being a part of the Copeland family funeral home."
Bernie has lived in New Paltz with his wife, Irene, since 2008.
Timothy J. Copeland, Former Owner
I want to take this moment to share some exciting news. I am happy to announce that I am embarking on the next chapter of my life. With the completion of my Master’s Degree, I will have the credentials and ability to pursue my passion, teaching. It has long been my thought to be a part of the process of guiding our next generation of Funeral Directors, Hospice Workers, and Grief Therapists. I feel now is the time to help those who care for the dying and the bereaved.
With that said, I want to further announce the transferal of my ownership of the Copeland Funeral Home. After a yearlong discernment, I decided to formalize and execute the idea of passing the torch of my tenure to a worthy successor. Those that know me can understand how it has been one of the most difficult choices for me to make. The final determination to change ownership was hampered by the many memories of the families I have served in the last 27 years.
My father started the business with the simplest of goals in his mind. First, serve each family as if they were our family, second, always understand everyone’s needs, and third, humbly serve them in their time of need. Those goals have never changed. I have followed the same pathway. The new owner, Paul Hammerl, will continue these traditions while becoming a part of the community and serving everyone like they are a part of his family. I am confident that he will immediately earn your trust as my father and I have over the last 27 years. I look forward to my dear friend, Paul, maintaining our traditions.
Every family we have served has enriched my life. Every single one of you will be in my thoughts in the coming years inspiring me while I educate young minds. Please, know that you are not only in my thoughts but also part of the fabric of my being. The honor of caring for you and your loved one has been one of the most humbling, heartwarming, and rewarding experiences of my life. I thank you for the opportunity to serve you.