Polly Coffman, age 95 and an Islander for 33 of those years, passed away peacefully last Tuesday, September 5, at her residence of three months, Island Elder Care (lower Gold Beach). She was born in Albemarle, North Carolina, April 18, 1932.
A true Southern lady, Polly saw “Gone With The Wind” 13 times. Like Scarlett O’Hara, she lived through multiple hardships, yet came through them, with tenacity and resilience, as a vivacious, loving and happy person. Her buoyant spirit served her well all her life, including the end.
At age 10, Polly’s veterinarian father, Earnest Moore Martin, committed suicide. Her mother was committed to a mental hospital for two years. Food and funds were scarce in 1933, The Depression. Her eldest sister Myrtis, then age 18 (now 101), returned to take charge of her three sisters and a brother. With help from relatives and neighbors, the five siblings had a decent life. Notwithstanding these hard times, young Polly decided: “Life is good. Always celebrate the blessings.” A cheerleader in high school, she was voted “Most Popular.” She constantly affirmed what was good in her life, regardless of health: “I live in such a beautiful place… I have wonderful caregivers” etc.
In 1943 she married Selby Coffman Jr., whom she met at Appalachian College, North Carolina. She supported him through college and medical school, working for Blue Cross/Blue Shield. He became a radiologist. With the birth of Selby III (“Chip”) and Nell Carolyn (“Carol,” later “Nell”), she became a housewife. But she was not the “stay-at-home” brand of housewife, though her family always came first. The family moved to Madisonville, Kentucky, in 1961.
Polly learned the guitar, then taught it. “Polly’s Parrots” performed locally. She was an actor and organizer for the local “Foot Light Players.” She bicycled several miles daily on back country roads. In her mid-forties, she was accompanied by a 22-year old friend on a self-guided tour of Europe on mopeds. She went on venturesome safaris and other trips, with and without her husband.
Polly had grown up a Methodist, then later joined an Episcopal church for her children. After they grew up, she became a prayerful, unaffiliated Christian.
Her husband Selby died in 1988 soon after they moved to their new house at Lower Gold Beach, Vashon. Her fellow PEO sisters were among her many precious friends. She became an avid bridge, tennis and movies fan. Three photos of tennis great Roger Federer graced the household. “The Descendants” became her favorite movie, which she watched many times in her last months.
In 2016, a beloved “dream team” of caregivers was organized by Belinda Jovanavitch. In June of 2018 she moved to Island Elder Care, run by Theresa Shipley, just 1/4 mile from her house, where she was lovingly cared for.
We are deeply grateful to all of Mom’s good friends for their continued visits, and to her capable and devoted caregivers. Many thanks to Providence Hospice and to Island Funeral Service.
Her living relatives include her sister Myrtis Butler, daughter Nell Coffman (Island vet for 35+ years), son Selby Coffman, son-in-law Ray Hanowell, grandchildren Julia Hanowell and Colin Hanowell.
In lieu of flowers, friends & family may make a gift to the Vashon-Maury-Island Land Trust, helping protect and preserve the natural legacy of Vashon-Maury Island for future generations www.vashonlandtrust.org, or Vashon-Maury-Island Land Trust PO Box 2031 Vashon, WA 98070.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, November 3, at 2:00 pm at the Gold Beach Community Center. (Go to lower Gold Beach, turn right at bottom of the hill, at the big curve take the long driveway.)
Contact Nell Coffman, 27401 99th Ave SW. 206-463-5591 firstname.lastname@example.org or Selby 208-866-6072 email@example.com 541 E 100 S, Jerome, ID 83338