Pietro Copiz, born in 1931, passed away last Saturday morning, December 19, 2020 at the Hospital of Nyon (VD). He died of a bacterial lung infection. His two sons, Danilo and Stefan, were there with him.
“Though it’s tough to see many positives at the moment,” shared Danilo and Stefan, “we do think it all ended as well as it possibly could have. He was not in a good place anymore in his final days, and his passing was surely a relief for him. Ultimately for us as well. We are genuinely relieved for him and greatly at peace with how and when his life ended. At the moment, we are celebrating the 89 years of the very full life he has lived,” concluded Danilo and Stefan.
Pietro Copiz worked at the Division as Head of the Education Department from July 1, 1979 to August 31, 1990. After this period, he worked as Assistant Editor of the review “Servir” (September 1, 1990 – July 7, 1994). He went on retirement and choose Gland as his new home.
Before moving to Bern, Pietro Copiz was a teacher at Collonges (1959 – 1966) and also at Andrews University (1966 – 1979).
Pietro Copiz was a kind-hearted person. He always got emotional when speaking about his life and his family. Here are some of his personal memories that he used to share with his friends.
Pietro Copiz met his wife, Herta, in 1965 in Collonges. “Herta was my best student of French for foreigners,” explained Pietro, “and she was in some of my classes during my last year at Collonges (1965-1966). Pietro and Herta got married a few days before Pietro left for Andrews University, in 1967. Unfortunately, Herta passed away prematurely, in 1994.
Pietro Copiz was baptized on June 25, 1956, in Trieste, Italy. (see picture). Pastor Giuseppe Cesario baptized him. “My brothers, Romeo and Paolo, were also present,” shared Pietro Copiz. “The following month, in September, I started attending the ministerial courses at Villa Aurora, Italy.”
Copiz continued: “I am grateful that I decided to get baptized. After a somewhat aimless adolescence and early youth, during which I had lost my faith (also because I had been separated from my family for several years), my life started having a meaning, [for the] now and beyond. Although I was very poor, the Lord helped me to slowly advance in my studies and to be somehow useful in the Church that I had known as a child in Romania. By God’s grace, I was able to serve in four countries, also being involved for a while in the educational ministry of the Adventist Church in many other countries,” concluded Pietro.
May 20 represented a special day for Pietro Copiz. On that day, in 1943, “I saw my mother for the last time. I still remember all the details of that day. I will use the Romanian word, Mama, while recalling my memories.”
Pietro Copiz continued: “The decision had been made for me to go to Italy to continue my education. Already prepared for my long trip and dragging my poor suitcase, I had gone by train to Bucharest, with my uncle Osvaldo, in order to get the final necessary papers from the Italian Embassy. On the afternoon of May 20, 1943, we took the train for Budapest, Trieste, and Siena.
At the railway station of Ploiesti, the town where we had been living since 1937, Mama was waiting for us. She had brought enough food for the three-day trip, including some cozonac (the traditional Christmas cake) and other delicacies. We had just a few minutes at our disposal. She tried not to cry, and I did the same. She kept me tight in her arms, gave me a long kiss, and asked for God’s blessings on our trip. I waved from the train’s window as long as I could see her.
From there on, everything was unknown territory for me. Very far away from my family and not yet twelve years old, I missed the reassuring and loving presence of Mama. The scene of that final goodbye remained indelibly engraved in my mind (to read an article about Pietro’s moving experience, go here).
In 2004, Pietro had a serious car accident (see picture). “I was coming back [to Gland], alone, from Germany, where I had spent Christmas with my sons and my in-laws, and had a terrible accident with my car on the freeway close to Lausanne. The area worst hit was the driver’s side. The professional people who intervened and brought me to the hospital could hardly believe that I was alive,” he continued. “After four hours of thorough tests in the emergency room, it appeared clear that I only had minor superficial injuries, which should heal in about ten days. A friend could drive me home the same evening.”
“Having a new lease on life is a great privilege, for which I am deeply grateful. With God’s help, I will do my best to use this ‘grace time’ in a positive way to His glory,” commented Pietro, after a few months.
Due to a severe cancer, and a consequent surgery, Pietro lost 235 cm of his bowels, and so, from then on, he stopped travelling for long distances.
Pietro was also strongly connected to Germany: ”I know the Germans and understand the language quite well. In addition, I have German blood in my veins (my paternal grandmother, Neugebauer, came from Berlin and my father also spoke German),”shared Pietro. “Finally, my wife was German, so I have German relatives and have spent a lot of time with them.”
Pietro’s funeral will be held in Holzhausen, Germany, on December 24th. He will be buried next to his wife, per his wishes.
“Pietro Copiz leaves an unbridgeable void in all who knew him. We will always remember him. He will be greatly, greatly missed. He was a man of prayer, a man who walked according to God's heart,” recognized the Public Relations Department of the Inter-European Division.
“With the departure of Brother Pietro Copiz, we lost a multifaceted man,” lamented Mario Brito, President of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in the Inter-European Region. “He was a polyglot who perfectly mastered several languages. He was a scholar with an extraordinary memory and with a passion for learning and teaching. He loved his students and encouraged them to develop their full potential. He was a hard worker, very organized and precise. Above all, he was a dedicated and faithful servant of God.”
Pietro’s sons, Danilo and Stefan, leave us with a verse that their Dad had selected, in the event of his passing: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” - John 11:25