Mary Elizabeth Coffman

Mary Elizabeth Coffman, December 24, 1918 - March 23, 2014. Mary Coffman left this life on March 23, 2014 after ninety-five years of making the world a better and more beautiful place.
Born to proud parents Walter Robert and Grace Snider Tweedy on December 24, 1918, she grew up in a loving home with her older sister and best friend, Ruth. They lived in Royalton, a small farming and coal-mining town in southern Illinois. Her father was the only doctor for several miles around and, in the early days, he used a horse and buggy as well as a car to make house calls.
Mary was a good student. She graduated from high school at the age of 16 and was awarded a scholarship to MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Illinois. In her sophomore year, she transferred to the University of Illinois where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree with honors. There she also met her future husband and love of her life, Neal Coffman of Bentley, Illinois, on a blind date arranged by a friend. Neal said that by the third date, he knew she was the woman he wanted to marry.
Mary was fortunate, in 1939, to land a position as a home economics teacher at the high school in Equality, Illinois. After teaching for two years, she and Neal were married on June 21, 1941. She traveled and moved with Neal as his work took him to Elkhart, Indiana; Waterloo, Illinois; Chicago; LaGrange, Illinois; and Sacramento, California. Mary and Neal enjoyed exploring every part of the country in which they lived and making lifelong friends. Rather than return to work, Mary dedicated herself to family, church, and community. She led a Camp Fire Girls group for many years, was a long-time volunteer at a retirement home, and contributed her time and talents to the church and to several other organizations throughout her life. Creative and accomplished, she excelled at cooking, needlework, and other arts and crafts. She kept up with current events.
When Mary and Neal retired in 1978, they became Sun City West "Pioneers," as the first residents of the new community were called. They joined the Desert Garden United Church as charter members. Mary became a founding member of Encore Needle & Craft. She also discovered the art of china painting and became a founding member of Beardsley Porcelain Painters. She was a serious student and a gifted artist.
In her lifetime, she created a rich tapestry of loving relationships. She touched the lives of many with her grace and caring, quiet sense of humor, thoughtful insight, and wise counsel. Family, friends, and flowers flourished in her care. Her kind heart and generous spirit blessed the lives of those who knew her; the world seems a little less bright without her.
Mary was preceded in death by her parents, sister Lois Ruth Tweedy Peters and husband Dr. L.A. Peters, sisters-in-law Lorene Marie Coffman and Mary Catherine Huston and husband Sheldon, brother-in-law Charles G. Scharnhorst, Sr., and nephew Charles G. Scharnhorst, Jr. She is survived by her husband of 72 years, Neal Chellis Coffman of Sun City West, daughter Barbara Coffman and husband Tom Tierney, sister-in-law Marjorie Scharnhorst, nephews Walt Peters, Ron Peters, Dick Scharnhorst, John Huston, Pete Huston and their spouses, great-nieces and nephews, and their children.
A date for a memorial service will be set later.
In lieu of flowers, those who wish to do so may make contributions for the music and caregiver programs at Desert Garden United Church, 18818 North 128th Avenue, Sun City West, AZ 85375.
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Published in Daily News-Sun on Apr. 2, 2014