Alice L. Coleman, 95, died at Klamath Falls, Oregon on September 4, 2019. She was preceded in death by her husband of 73 years, Robert Coleman; and son Dennis Coleman. Funeral services will be held on September 13, at St. Pius X Catholic Church, beginning with a recitation of the Holy Rosary at 10:30 am, and a Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00 am. Interment will be at Mt. Calvary Catholic Cemetery.
Alice’s ancestors, the Rys and Bajek families journeyed together from Bohemia. Both families were Catholic, and arranged a marriage for Mary Bajek to Joseph Rys. They came to Plattsmouth, NE, where Alice’s mom, Lillian, was born. Lillian moved to LaGrande, OR, when she was 16. She married Clarence Waldrop, with protest from the family. Alice and Maxine were the only children from the marriage, which resulted in Lillian being a single mom for a good part of her early life. The girls lived some time with Clarence’s parents. Living with theses Grandparents gave the two girls some sense of family life. Alice and Maxine received their first Holy Communion because of the urging of one Aunt.
Alice helped to take care of here sister. One of Alice’s memories was when Maxine went to the school and told her teacher that her mom wanted to see Alice and that she should come home. On the way home, Maxine said: “Mom doesn’t really want to see you. I just wanted you to taste the beans I am making.” On the way back to school, Alice fell in a mud puddle. Another memory of hers was taking water back and forth one summer to a haying crew. She liked that because she got to ride a horse.
Alice moved to Klamath Falls and attended her senior year at KUHS. Her sister, Maxine, dated Bob Coleman and Alice dated Carroll Nelson. Later, the roles reversed and Maxine married Carroll, and Alice married Bob. Our family had lots of love, but not much money. Sherry remembers Alice sitting down with her grocery list and crossing off items until it would fit with the budget. Each of her children had assigned chores to do on Saturdays, and one a week we got an allowance of ten cents; and we all scampered off to the corner store to spend it on candy; all except Denny -- he saved his. The oldest son, Ron, had the duty of rounding us all up and keeping us in line when we went to the store for shopping with Mom. Mom would lead the way, and Ron followed at the end.
Alice’s adult life could best be described as the picture of family. Her son, Rod, described her as dedicated and selfless, always taking care of us. She was always there for us. We were her career. Alice and Bob supported each other in parenting eight children. Bob was able to give them a little rope to learn independence, but was quick to stop you if needed. He was a hard worker to support his family, while Alice supported the home life. Every night the whole family gathered around the table together for a home-cooked meal. On one occasion when Tom Quirk was dating Colleen, he came to dinner. The call came to begin, and the food disappeared rapidly. Tom sat back politely to let others go first. Alice leaned over to him and said, “If you want anything to eat in this house, you’d better learn to dive in with the rest, or do without.” Mom was expert at pie baking! We didn’t have treats often so we waited for them to come out of the oven when she baked pies and cookies.
Alice and bob were active. They enjoyed square dancing, and even turned part of their home in a square dance hall where Bob was a caller. Between square dances, some of us used it for roller skating. Janet remembers how Alice and Bob made friends with others easily. On one senior’s trip to Reno, they knew everyone on the bus. At 7 Feathers Casino Bingo, it got to be hard for them to get food on breaks because of the number of people coming up to say hi. Alice and Bob were the best card players, able to remember what cards had fallen and usually one of them would always beat us at the family games we played. Alice had “the look” when she would gaze across the table at you. Her son-in-law Doug was at first unnerved by it, but later joked about it, calling her “spooky old Alice.” The name stuck! Rod remembers her card rivalry with Dad. They seemed to delight in trying to one-up the other. Alice would even mess herself up to get him, by passing us cards she knew we needed.
Alice had a winning smile. She loved to garden as long as she was able. She loved roses, especially pink ones. Her grandchild, Robert, tells of her patience when he made himself a grilled cheese sandwich in her toaster. Her son, Tommy, remembers the countless hours she spent attending his, Curt’s, and Denny’s numerous baseball games without complaint. If it was cold, she would take a sleeping bag and sit in it, but she was always there. She was patient, but she has also been described as “feisty” when you try to get her to do something she doesn’t want to do. Colleen saw that, as the dementia progressed, and the role of parent and child reversed for Alice and Colleen. The slot machines were a favorite pastime for Alice. She was never a big spender, but loved to play her “Ape” machine. A small amount of money kept her entertained for hours. She told Colleen that it gave her a chance to just relax and not think about anything pressing; and just have fun.
Alice passed on to her children, the knowledge of the faith. Every Sunday she took them all to Mass at the church. We learned to say the Rosary when she gathered us all together at home recite it. This faith stayed with Alice, even though her last suffering. On August 25, Alice suffered a painful back injury from a fall. Even though she got mad at God at one point, for not removing the suffering, she continued to pray to Him. She asked Colleen; “Why does God make us suffer like this?” Colleen’s answer was; “Maybe to give us a little share in his Cross, so we can understand what he endured for love of us.” Alice was quietly thoughtful, then replied; “He suffered much more than me.” God gave us life to be fruitful as Alice was, and to enjoy life. So, we should go forth doing just that; not pining away, but living to the fullest, the life we were given.