Thelma Aileen Coles
1928 - 2020
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Thelma Aileen Coles

Born: November 15, 1928, in Portland, OR

Died: June 20, 2020; in DeKalb, IL

Thelma Aileen Coles (Bailey), age 91, died on June 20, 2020, at Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital in DeKalb, Illinois. She was born on November 15, 1928, in Portland, Oregon, to G.A. and Mabel (Yergen) Bailey. After graduating from Grant High School in Portland, Thelma attended the University of Oregon, where she majored in English. While in college, she joined Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority, and met and married fellow student Edward F. Coles. Together, they had three children, living and working in Oregon with their family during the early years of their marriage. In 1964, the family relocated to northern Virginia where Ed worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Thelma worked as a bookkeeper for a nursing home and data processing firm. In 1982, Thelma and Ed retired to their property in the foothills of the Shenandoah Mountains, near Berryville, Virginia, where they were very active in Ruritan and other community organizations. In retirement, Thelma became a Master Gardener and continued her long-standing research into the family genealogy. Reflecting her strong interest in family history, she joined the DAR and Mayflower Society. She was also a lifetime member of the O.E.S. Waverly Chapter in Oregon.

Following Ed's death in 2001, Thelma moved to DeKalb, Illinois, to be with her daughter Kathy. Intellectually curious and an avid reader, Thelma actively participated in the Northern Illinois University Lifelong Learning Institute in DeKalb for many years. in addition to membership on several committees, she served on the LLI Steering Committee from 2008-2011 and continued to take classes until her health declined and she incurred an injury from a fall in August, 2019. Following her injury, she was under the care of the kind staff of Bethany Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in DeKalb until her death on June 20.

Thelma is survived by three children: Kathleen L. Coles, Anita C. Greer (John), and John E. Coles; a sister: Marilyn Bobbitt; five grandchildren: Kathleen Costello (Ryan Beach), Elizabeth Peters (Michael), Sean Costello (Ioana), David Coles (Jesse), and Nathan Coles (Ashley); and eight great-grandchildren.

She will be remembered for her deep love of family, her keen and engaging intellect, her good counsel, her kindness, her natural grace, and her calm, cheerful, optimistic, and common-sense approach to life. She will be dearly missed.

A private family service will be held Tuesday, June 30, 2020, in Berryville, Virginia. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Shiner's Hospital for Children or to NIU's Lifelong Learning Institute (search for CLAS Lifelong Learning Institute in the bar where it says "Click here to search available designations."). Local arrangements were entrusted to: Finch Funeral Home 310 Oak St. DeKalb, IL 60115 (815) 758-3841.

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Published in Daily-Chronicle on Jun. 26, 2020.
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