Deborah Copenhaver was born and raised on a cattle and Quarter Horse ranch in northern Idaho.
Her father, a World Champion Bronc Rider, supported the family with his winnings. She and her younger brother Jeff grew up on the ranch, often alone with their mother. Work on the ranch was shared by all, and a life long passion for horses grew from those responsibilities. It was at this time that Deborah sold her first drawings of horses.
The competition was a way of life for the Copenhaver family. Deborah won barrel races before she was a teenager and was a member of the Girls Rodeo Association.
She had her first racehorse at twelve. Her brother Jeff roped calves and won calf roping competitions at an equally young age.
Deborah spent her first year of College at Washington State University, earning a full scholarship. That same year Deborah won the competition to become Miss Rodeo Washington and was Runner Up Miss Rodeo America.
In her second year of college, she transferred to Fort Wright College of the Holy Names in Spokane, Washington. She met a nun, Sister Paula Mary Turnbull, who taught sculpture. Deborah received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a Fine Art major following her study in Italy, where her passion for sculpture came alive and continues today.
At 19, she sculpted her first commissioned bronze for the city of Spokane, James Glover.
She successfully owned and operated her own business Classic Interiors, an experience that honed her business skills.
Despite her success in the business world, the horses called… She and her brother loaded their horses and left Washington to compete in the winter rodeo circuit. By the second go-round of Houston and no winnings, Deborah loaded both horses and headed for Phoenix with just enough money to get to a friend’s ranch in Chandler.
During this stay, she went to Prescott and met Ernie Phippen, who ran a western art foundry. Her world came together. She returned home, gathered all her belongings, and returned to Prescott to get a job as a head wrangler in a dude ranch. That year she cast her first bronze… and started her art career ….Jeff won the last go-round at Houston and went on to win the World’s Championship.
Within four years, Deborah was commissioned by Gonzaga University to sculpt a monument of Bing Crosby. The project took her to Queen’s New York, to Roman Bronze Works, the foundry that cast bronzes by Charlie Russell and Frederick Remington’s bronzes. This was the first of many monuments that she would create.
During this period, Deborah married and had her only child, Fabienne.
“My greatest life’s accomplishment,” according to Deborah.
In the post-Vietnam era, Deborah won competitions to create veteran memorials, including the Inland Northwest Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Montana State Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Washington State Korean War Memorial.
She also received commissions to do monuments of Henry Kaiser, James Irvine, and Frank Erwin of the University of Texas and created a monument for The Boy Scouts Of America.
Deborah’s life and career have reached new heights in the last decade. In 2012, she won the competition and was commissioned by the state of Arizona to create a monumental bronze of Barry Goldwater for Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C. In 2016 Deborah created a monumental bust of William P Clark, California Superior Court Judge for Rancheros Visitadores in Santa Ynez, California. In 2017 San Antonia Sculpture Trail LLC commissioned a monumental sculpture of Jim Bowie for the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas.
Deborah has returned to her original inspiration source, the American West. Living now in southern Arizona with her husband, Fred Fellows, Deborah is devoted to creating fresh, original, and accomplished sculptures expressing her feelings for the Western way of life. Surrounded by splendid Southwestern scenery and a string of good horses, she has assured an ample source of inspiration for a lifetime.
Deborah’s Monumental Sculptures
- 2017: Jim Bowie • Alamo, San Antonio Texas
- 2016: William P. Clark, • Rancheros Visitadores, Santa Ynez, California
- 2012: Barry Goldwater Statuary Hall • United States Capitol, Washington D.C.
- 2010: Boy Scouts of America Monument • Prescott Arizona
- 2008: Boy Scout Troop 325 Monument • Boy Scouts of America Spokane, WA
- 2007: “A Texas Legacy” monument • Museum of South Texas History, Edinburg TX
- 2006: “Giving Thanks” • Booth Western Art Museum, Cartersville, GA
- 2001: “Tribute to Ranching” • Santa Cruz Fairground & Rodeo Assoc. Sonoita, Arizona & South Point Casino, Las Vegas Nevada
- 1997: James Irvine II Monument • Irvine Regional Park, Orange County, CA
- 1996: San Francisco Zoo Monument • San Francisco, CA
- 1994: Lady of the Sea Monument • Anacortes, WA
- 1992: Korean War Veterans Memorial • Capitol grounds, Olympia, WA
- 1990: Hecla Mining Company Centennial Monument • Hecla Mining Company, Coeur d’ Alene, ID
- 1990: Boy Scout Monument, Boy Scout of America • Diamond Lake, WA
- 1989: Father Arthur Dussault (Monumental Bronze Bust) Gonzaga University • Spokane, WA
- 1986: Montana Vietnam Veteran Memorial (Monumental 14’ Sculpture) • Missoula, MT
- 1986: Henry J. Kaiser (Monumental Bust) Kaiser Aluminum Corporation • Napa Valley, CA
- 1984: Frank Irwin (Monumental Bust) • Irwin Performing Arts Center University of Texas Austin, TX
- 1984: Tribute to the Cowboy (Monumental 12’ Equestrian) • Horseshoe Casino
- 1983: Inland Northwest Vietnam Veterans Memorial (Monumental 8’) Riverfront Park • Spokane, WA
- 1982: William Nefsy, First Security Bank • Miles City, MT (also located in the Speaker of the House Office, U.S. Capitol Building)
- 1980: “Legacy of Old West Trails” • Old West Trail Foundation • Rapid City, SD
- 1980: Benny Binion Bust • Hall of Champions, Colorado Springs, CO
- 1979: Adolph Coors 1 • Coors Industries, Golden, CO
- 1978: Bing Crosby Monument • Gonzaga, University, Spokane, WA
- 1971: James S. Glover Sculpture, Founding Father of Spokane, WA • Glover Junior High, Spokane, WA
In The News
Long before Deborah Copenhaver Fellows became a nationally known bronze sculptor, she was a cowgirl. As a young girl, Fellows was raised on a ranch in northern Idaho. Her father, Deb Copenhaver, was a world champion bronc rider, and the family raised cattle and quarter horses. Both Fellows and her brother, Jeff Copenhaver, followed in their patriarch’s footsteps, actively competing in the rodeo circuit until Fellows left home to study fine art — first at Washington State University in Pullman and later at Fort Wright College of the Holy Names, a small all-girls college in Spokane, Washington.