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Kaye Coppersmith has passed away. She was the FWA with arms.

April 6, 2012

Every once in a while, you meet someone who sticks with you. Someone who, even when you’re busy and they call and it irritates you–by the time you’re done talking, you’re glad they called. You might only see them two or three times a year, but those two or three times a year are always worthwhile.

Kaye Coppersmith was that type of person. If it weren’t for Kaye, I wouldn’t be a member of FWA and my writing wouldn’t be what it is today. One Saturday a few years ago, I was wondering around near the back of our local Barnes and Noble and overheard a speaker talking to people in the community area. It turned out they were talking about writing, so I stopped and listened.

I don’t remember the speaker or the topic, but I remember Kaye from that day. Kaye was warm and enthusiastic and welcoming. Because of her open arms, I joined FWA and attended the critique group she helped lead. After I left the critique group, I didn’t see Kaye nearly as often, but she always ended our discussions by saying “I miss seeing you,” or “I love your face,” or something equally uplifting.

When I presented the Vice President’s award at the 2010 conference, I didn’t have to think more than a few seconds who should receive it. I was humbled and honored to be able to recognize someone who so thoroughly epitomized the concept of writers helping writers, FWA’s motto. It was the best part of that entire conference.

Kaye epitomized FWA and its motto more than anyone else I know.

Kaye passed away this week. I don’t know the details and they’re ultimately unimportant. What is important is the imprint she left on me and pretty much everyone else she met. She was sweet and happy and had a peace about her that most people would give their souls to attain. She was simply Kaye, a wonderful human being.

That legacy is a challenge to the Florida Writers Association and to each of it members–and really to writers anywhere who’ve benefited from the generosity and help of other writers.

I’m a writer. I make words do things that convey meaning and emotion. I’m pretty good at it. Except today. Today, the words don’t convey the proper emotions. Maybe the words we have aren’t quite sufficient for the task. Kaye’s passing leaves a giant hole in FWA, and for each person she touched in and around it.

If we do half the job helping other writers that Kaye did on a daily basis, we’ll do well by each other, and do well to keep her spirit alive by carrying forward her passion for helping other writers.

Kaye, I loved your face and I will miss seeing you. You made a difference for me and for the other writers who had the good fortune to meet you. Heaven is a richer place today for your presence there.

If you knew Kaye, please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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35 Comments
  1. Barbara permalink
    April 6, 2012 1:50 pm

    Kaye was a wonderful, conscientious, dedicated woman. I bought a t-shirt that wasn’t in stock and was supposed to be shipped to me. When it wasn’t, I was told Kaye was the person to contact. I told her I wasn’t in a hurry, and I’d wait until she had reason to make another order. She made sure to follow through. At the next conference, we had a nice chat despite how busy she was. Once I knew who she was, I could believe how she was everywhere doing everything to make the conference run smoothly. She will be missed.

  2. April 6, 2012 1:53 pm

    I did not know Kay personally, but as a member of FWA, obviously I have benefitted from her years of dedicated contribution. Her presence will continue to reverberate in the actions of FWA members who live the motto of Writers Helping Other Writers.

  3. Gerry Wolfson-Grande permalink
    April 6, 2012 3:11 pm

    Kay went out of her way to make new members welcome, and she always had a smile and time to ask how you were doing. I had a great time with her at the authors’ signing for the 2010 anthology, as we laughed and talked while we kept the line of books going around the group. She will be missed, but FWA is definitely the better for her having been a part of it.

  4. April 6, 2012 4:15 pm

    Kaye helped me in the early stages of editing my memoir, and I know what you mean about those phone calls (being an email sort myself). Yet just as you said, after each I was thrilled we had spoken. She was a force. So surprised and sorry that she is gone.

  5. April 6, 2012 5:35 pm

    This is sad. Thank you for sharing. This group is great in many ways, but I think the people helping us along the way are the most important. Being part of a group, no matter how distant we all are in our many lives, it’s always difficult when a member passes.

  6. April 6, 2012 5:42 pm

    I didn’t know Kaye personally, either, but hope to make this year’s FWA Conference and wanted to finally meet her and properly thank her. When I became ill last year and was transported to the other coast of FL to Moffitt Cancer Center, it was Kaye who was instrumental in encouraging Tampa-area FWA members to call/write/visit me. I shall never forget the outpouring of kindnesses from so many whom I’d never met but who shared the common link of writing. I’m sorry never to have met Kaye. Candice Coghill

  7. April 6, 2012 6:50 pm

    I am in shock. I just talked to Kaye yesterday and she was coming to the meeting here in Plant City to help with the writer’s meeting I am starting. Her husband called me to tell me she wasn’t coming. I was speechless. I have never met anyone so full of life. She encouraged me, along with Eugene, to start this group and gave me so much help. I still can not believe this has happened; cant wrap my mind around the fact that one so vital and full of life is gone. May you rest in peace Kaye Coppersmith. My condolences to her family and all of FWA for this huge loss. I am so sorry for your loss, for our loss.

  8. April 6, 2012 10:52 pm

    I too am in shock, called on Kay last week to meet with me and a new friend looking for writing talent. Kay joined us for lunch with a a suggestion she had personally “veted”. I had not seen Kay in a few months, but when I called/emailed she was ready, wiling and so able to provide help.
    I will miss her friendship, her guidance, and her encouragment. We have lost a true friend.
    Praying for her husband and friends at this sad time.

  9. Karen Lieb permalink
    April 7, 2012 3:57 am

    Kaye’s talent, enthusiasm, and love for writing and for FWA are legendary. If Kaye thought you could do something, you did it . . . partly because Kaye knew just how to inspire others to achieve their goals and party because no one ever wanted to disappoint Kaye. She will continue to live in everyone who has been close to her, and I’m very grateful that I’m one of them.

  10. April 7, 2012 4:33 am

    Kaye Coppersmith was the epitome of Writers Helping Writers, truly the welcoming arms of FWA, and yet she was so much more. She was one of my best friends, someone who would call and squeal with glee when she found something at a yard sale she knew I would like. I could see her in my mind’s eye, jumping up and down with joy. When we went more than a month without seeing each other, she would always say, “I miss your face.” Well, Kay, I miss your face too. My calendar has an empty spot next week when we were supposed to have lunch, and my heart has an empty spot where you made me laugh and filled me with love. Yet I know angels everywhere are delighted in your presence above, and I can just see you bustling around, helping them organize Heaven, dot their i’s and cross their t’s. There was only one Kaye, there will never be another, and I am so glad I could count you as a friend for so many years.

    • April 8, 2012 9:52 am

      Hi Chrissie,
      It’s touching and comforting that Kaye was taken from us at Easter. I know how close you two were. She was my friend; she was a good friend to us all in the FWA. I miss her more than I can say.

  11. Tom Swartz permalink
    April 7, 2012 8:36 am

    Look at the outporing of sentiment. As FWA members hear of Kaye’s passing. We have a need to express our grief. I am among those who grieve.. You couldn’t help be touched by Kaye’s kindness. She was a great helper to writers needing help. She was a superstar as a human being. May we all give thanks for having spent some time with such an exceptionally caring person, She made all of us better people.

  12. Kay Shapiro permalink
    April 7, 2012 8:40 am

    Oh, Kaye. You are why I kept writing and came back to FWA. I miss your face.

  13. April 7, 2012 9:27 am

    I only ever saw Kaye at conference. She always seemed to be everywhere, making sure people felt welcomed, always with a smile.

  14. Steve Hulsey permalink
    April 7, 2012 11:37 am

    What a shock. What a loss. Kaye attended my writers group and did a free 3-page edit of my in-progress novel. Just at the time i was getting discouraged, she provided encouragement and praise that prompted me to continue. she later edited the first three chapters and again offered motivation to continue. I recently signed a contract ffor publication with the publisher (Scriptor) she recommended. At the last Writer’s Conference in Lake Mary, I left the conference in an ambulance (Kaye was blowing kisses as the ambulance pulled away). I spent the reemainder of the conference in the local hospital and after I returned home, Kaye telephoned to check on me. I’ll forever be grateful for her being with the FWA and in my life.

  15. Steve Hulsey permalink
    April 7, 2012 11:45 am

    What a shock. What a loss. Kaye attended my writers group at the time I was getting discouraaged with my in-progress novel. She provided praise and encouragement to continue. She later edited the first three chapters and again motivated me to continue. I recently signed a contract with Scriptor, the publisher she recommended I submit to. At the 2011 FWA conference in Lake Mary, I left the conference in an ambulance. Kaye was blowing kisses of encouragement. I spent the remainder of the conference in the local hospital but after I returned home, she telephoned to check on me. I’ll forever be grateful for her being with the FWA and in my life.

  16. Randy Austin, Group Leader - Kissimmee permalink
    April 7, 2012 1:12 pm

    Kaye gave me some wonderful advice over the past 2 years, and I will miss both her and her wisdom.

  17. Stephanie Keller permalink
    April 7, 2012 1:22 pm

    Kaye was the reason I made time to go to FWA meetings in Tampa. What a vibrant, welcoming personality. So joyously quirky and fun. And knowlegeable!
    I’ve been blessed to personally know just a few leaders in this world who were truly inspiring. Maybe 7. Kaye is among the elite on that list. What a wonderful example she has been for all whose lives she touched. Thank you, Kaye, for being one of the biggest inspirations in our writing community, and for me personally.

  18. April 7, 2012 1:30 pm

    I am shocked and saddened by the news of Kaye’s passing. That’s two extrememly valuable leaders of FWA to leave us within a week. Dahris Clair, the head of the New Port Richey chapter of FWA, died last week and now Kaye. I shall miss them both.
    My heartfelt sympathies go out to Jeff and the rest of Kaye’s family. She is leaving a huge void in FWA, but we will remember her cheerful smile and helpful manner always.

  19. April 7, 2012 1:42 pm

    Agree with you. Kaye was the heart of FWA and she will be sorely missed by many.

  20. April 7, 2012 1:57 pm

    I am heartsick to know that Kaye has left us. While I had been a member of FWA for a couple of years, I didn’t “belong” until I became acquainted by email with Kaye when I answered her ad to become an FWA editor. Kaye took a chance on me through several edits and praised my work. Her phone calls to me were uplifting and ranged through a variety of subjects. That gal was interested in people and the world!

    I finally got to meet Kaye at the 2011 Writers Conference. When I approached her, she glanced at my nametag, squealed, and jumped up to hug me. I have been looking forward to seeing her again at this October’s Conference. For me, Kaye exemplified FWA’s motto of “Writers Helping Writers.”

    They say “time seems to make remembered joys still sweeter to recall,” and I trust that all of us will join Jeff in having many such memories of Sunny Kaye Coppersmith.
    JOYCE BOWDEN

  21. April 7, 2012 2:51 pm

    Oh, my heart is broken. I so enjoyed her wonderful smile and always positive attitude. She was a blessing to everyone she met. I’m certain she is now writing with the Master! See you again sometime Kaye!

  22. April 7, 2012 7:51 pm

    Kaye was my loving sister, my friend, my inspiration, and my hero, and I have been blessed to have shared my life with her since coming home from the hospital as a newborn. She encouraged me to write and become part of FWA, and through her brilliant editing, helped make my book a published success. I’m so glad you all had the opportunity to know her, to experience her warmth, her big heart and enthusiasm, and I thank you all so very much for your kind words in her memory.

  23. Sandra Beattie-Stevens permalink
    April 7, 2012 8:57 pm

    Hi all:
    As a Canadian Snowbird readying to return home, I was shocked to read about Kaye’s passing. My husband and I saw her recently in Tampa at the FWA meeting with Oceanview Publishers and she saved the day again for me as I needed a paper clip … she searched and provided one.
    Our condolences to her husband, family and all the members of FWA. I cannot think of a more appropos time than Easter to say goodbye and take comfort in the Resurrection.
    Sincerely,
    Sandra Beattie-Stevens

  24. April 8, 2012 9:44 am

    My editor is gone, but not forgotten. Kaye was a personality of rare quality, someone who touched Ruby and me with a friendship we treasured and shall always remember. Among writers, she will alway be remembered as a wordsmith, a writer who helped all of us improve our craft. During those depressing funks when I thought of my own writing as substandard and not worthy of publication, she always found a way to encourage me while simultaneously pointing out areas of improvement. She leaves me in the midst of my current project, a manuscript she only recently began editing. I shall be sorely tried to find another with her qualities and standard of excellence. Kay was my mentor and my friend. I shall miss her terribly.

  25. April 8, 2012 10:58 am

    It’s my loss that I never met Kaye personally; but I felt I knew her through her photos and comments in newsletter, the Writer and emails that we exchanged on occasion. I know that the organization will miss her in the years ahead; but Kaye forged a path for those who will follow and her importance to FWA will never be forgotten because of it. My condolences to those of you who knew her, and to her husband, Jeff.
    In sympathy, Barbara Beswick

  26. John Miller permalink
    April 8, 2012 9:57 pm

    This was really a shock for me! Such a friendly person with a great smile. This Wednesday I was at a Tampa Writers Alliance meeting … she was actively participating in comments to the program speaker ….. then said she didn’t feel well … then started to participate again … then said she had to leave … wasn’t feeling well … got up … walked out of the meeting, and …..

  27. April 9, 2012 8:24 am

    This is shocking. Our first interaction was at the Wesley Chapel FWA meetings where I usually attend. Then the first time I attended the Tampa meeting, she made me feel so welcome. She was a very lively and vibrant woman. When some of us from Wesley Chapel formed our first critique group, she made a point to attend a critique meeting. We were having some growing pains, and she wanted to lend her assistance and expertise. She was a very giving woman and will be missed by many.

  28. vrf1 permalink
    April 9, 2012 2:23 pm

    I’ve been in shock and sadness ever since opening this email on Saturday. When I led the Kissimmee FWA group, I invited her to orchestrate an editing exercise for the group after which she came and addressed each member’s work at our meeting. Since that time, she became my editor. At times, it was a love-hate relationship, but we always remained friends. I’m lost now as I was counting on her for my collection submission to Flannery O’Connor awards and a Glimmertrain submission. I’ve lost a worthy writing partner and good friend. Forever, I will miss her admiration, kindness, support, redirection and affection. Rest in peace, dear Kaye.

  29. April 10, 2012 9:41 pm

    Kaye was so encouraging of my book. Hard to believe she’s gone. I’ll miss her smiling face at our local FWA group.

  30. Sally Beth permalink
    April 12, 2012 3:30 pm

    Kaye was a bubbling friend who loved her family, friends, Skye Terriers, books and yard sales. I will miss her so much at the Holidays and the evenings when she would sporadically call and we would talk forever. She is playing with Logan and Scotland now, and I know they are better because she is there.

  31. April 16, 2012 1:50 pm

    I met Kaye in 2002. She was my first contact with FWA when a friend and I visited the critique group for a, “look and see,” as she would have said. My friend and I quickly dug into our purses for paper and pen to make notes as we listened to the critiques. The very next meeting we joined FWA and the critique group. We knew this was where we would learn volumes about writing.
    Through the critique group, Kaye became my first writing teacher and opened my eyes to the things that make good writing, great writing. Although her edits bled on everyone’s submissions, she was always encouraging by gently teaching the “mechanics” of good writing and pointing out how to make our writing stronger.
    I’m sorry to say I needed to leave that critique group a couple of years later, which put Kaye and I on separate roads. I raced in one direction and Kaye slowly and determinedly in another. However, I always knew I could call her any time for help, no matter what. The common ground that connected us was writing and happily, we saw each at all the meetings, FWA parties, and conferences.
    She was true to the passion of writing. She will be dearly missed.

  32. April 19, 2012 11:06 am

    I was wrestling with an opening line for my poem. Kaye helped me with that at last year’s FWA conference.

  33. Anne Childers permalink
    April 19, 2012 1:50 pm

    I will miss the opportunity to pick Kay’s brain and see her face…she both grounded and inspired me. If heaven has a newsletter, Kay is editing angles copy. She will be greatly missed.

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