Famed CIA Widow Dies

Lorraine Copeland
Lorraine Copeland
Lorraine Copeland (born Elizabeth Lorraine Adie) was an archaeologist specialising in the Palaeolithic period of the Near East, who was a secret agent with the Special Operations Executive during World War II. | Photo: | Lorraine Copeland, Miles Copeland, Cia, Oss,

Lorraine Copeland was a daring WW-2 operative herself

Lorraine Adie Copeland, the widow of a famed CIA official who was a daring World War Two operative in her own right, died Saturday in her chateau in the south of France, surrounded by family members. She was 92*.

The daughter of a wealthy Scots neurosurgeon, Copeland was a secret agent with Britain's Special Operations Executive, a sabotage and subversion service that Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered to "set [Nazi-occupied] Europe ablaze."

She was awarded the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and the Distinguished Service Cross for her wartime exploits, according to a family friend.

It was while serving with the SOE that she met her life's mate, Miles Copeland, Jr., who had been assigned to London as a counterintelligence specialist with the OSS, America's wartime spying and sabotage outfit. They married in 1943*.

After the war, her husband became a founding member of the fledgling CIA, and began a long string of Middle East assignments. It was there that she developed an interest in the region's paleolithic period. Over the years, she authored or co-authored several dense archeological studies of prehistoric Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and North Africa.

"Her books and have always stopped me at the second word," her son Stewart, the famed drummer for The Police, jibed in his 2010 autobiography, Strange Things Happen: A Life with The Police, Polo, and Pygmies. "They start with "The," followed by an unpronounceable fourteen-syllable word."

While Lorraine was dusting rocks, her husband was helping overthrow Middle East governments, most famously in Syria and as a key member of the CIA team that reinstalled the Shah of Iran on the Peacock Throne, according to several accounts and his own memoirs.

He dedicated one of them, The Game Player: The Confessions of the CIA's Original Political Operative.
"to Lorraine, for overlooking and forgiving."

But she was also helping him with his spying chores, according to her son Miles Copeland III, best known for creating IRS Records and managing the 1980s mega-hit rock band The Police and later its lead singer, Sting.

"While living in Beirut. Lebanon she was involved with...keeping an eye on" Kim Philby, a senior British intelligence operative and KGB mole who later defected to Moscow, he said. "She was Kim's wife Eleanor Philby's best friend and recently contributed to a British TV documentary on the subject, as well as to the recent documentary on CIA agent Frank Kearns," a CBS correspondent who was also reporting to the agency.??

Her husband died in 1991.

Born Elizabeth Lorraine Adie in Scotland in 1921, she was educated at the private Wyecombe Abbey in Buckinghamshire.

She died from colon cancer on Apr. 27, at the Chateau Marouatte, a restored 14th-century fortified castle in "the Dordogne," a region of southern France popular with British ex-pats.

At her side or en route, according to a family friend, were her sons Stewart and Miles and a daughter, Lennie, who is a writer and film producer. Another son, Ian, a prominent music producer, died in 2006.

Her interested in prehistory never flagged, her family said.

She was on the advisory board of the Stone Age Institute, of Bloomington, Ind., and "a member of the Perigord Historical and Archeological Society, involved in local French prehistory (such as the Lascaux cave paintings)," Miles said, "but kept up her archeological contacts in the Middle East, where many of her writings and artifacts have been bequeathed to the local Beirut museum."?

*Originally reported as 97 years old, and married in 1942, based on her Wikipedia entry. Updated Wednesday with input from the Copeland family.

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Updated Jan 2, 2019 12:28 PM EST | More details


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