July 15, 2024 Donate

Dexter, Dexter Education, Dexter Government

Who Were Copeland, Bates, and Wylie of Whom the Schools Were Named?

Editor’s Note: The following article is by John P. Hansen from the August 5, 1992, edition of the Dexter Leader. Mr. Hansen served as Superintendent of Dexter Community Schools from 1984 to 1998. Mr. Hansen was also State Representative for Michigan’s 52nd District from 1999 to 2002. Other interim roles in various governmental bodies include Dexter Village Council, City Manager of Ypsilanti, and interim superintendent positions for several school districts. Mr. Hansen has been a prominent figure in Dexter for many years, serving in various capacities with his wife, Sandy, and actively participating in community events.


By Dr. John P. Hansen

Q: Who were Copeland, Bates and Wylie and what were their contributions to the Dexter School District? This question was submitted by David Kluck, and I turned immediately to noted Dexter historian, Norma McAllister, for the response. Mrs. McAllister quickly provided the following information.


The Copeland School was originally an addition to the second Dexter Union School. At the request of Senator Royal S. Copeland, it was named for his father, Roscoe P. Copeland, as noted on a cornerstone of the school. Roscoe Copeland was president of Dexter Village for 35 years. His brother graduating from a college in Maine with high honors went into the law office of Daniel Webster. This greatly impressed Roscoe and even though he was deprived of a higher education, he was determined to use his influence toward advancement of education.

Roscoe served as president of the Dexter Board of Education for a number of years and through his efforts Dexter had more students in the University of Michigan pet capita in a quarter century than any other village or city in the United States.

The Senator, Roscoe’s son, born in Dexter, was a graduate of Dexter High in 1885. He was a graduate of the University of Michigan Medical School in 1889 and became a U.S. Senator in 1922.

Returning to Dexter in 1935 to deliver an address to his 50 year graduating class members, Senator Copeland told them that he was appalled at conditions in the school. Through his efforts as Senator he obtained federal funds and with matching funds from Dexter, Copeland School addition was built in 1936-37.

Editor’s Note: The Copeland School was sold to The Encore Musical Theatre in 2020.


The Bates School was named for Henry Carl Bates, known as H. Carl or Carl Bates, a school board member for 29 years and president of the board at one time.

Carl’s grandfather, Vrelon Bates, a sawyer in Judge Dexter’s mill and a farmer came to Michigan in 1826. He purchased farm land along with what is now Parker and Shield Roads. Here a son, Charles was born and later carried on the farm. Charles’ son, H. Carl was born on the family farm and was a graduate of Dexter High in 1913. His two sons and five daughters were also graduates of Dexter High.

Editor’s Note: Bates Elementary has been converted into administrative offices for Dexter Community Schools.


The Wylie Middle School was named by the Board of Education Mrs. Lillian Wylie and Dr. William C. Wylie. Mrs. Wylie, during her 43 year teaching career, taught for 19 years in Dexter, beginning in 1903 and continuing until her retirement in 1962.

She was first married to John Wylie who died 10 years later leaving her with four sons to raise. Returning to school, she then became a teacher in 1922.

In 1942 she was married to Dr. William C. Wylie, the brother of her first husband. Dr. Wylie began the practice of medicine in Dexter in 1900, continuing into the 1950s. Dr. Wylie served on the Dexter Board of Education many years.

In 1964 the dedication of Wylie Intermediate School took place.