Our beloved patriarch headed for the North 40 on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021, at the age of 93.
Bruce Eugene Coleman was a Morton and Lewis County man through and through. He was born in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and for a brief time his parents, Gilbert and Rosalie (Priest) Coleman, lived in the San Francisco Bay area before returning to Morton (his mother’s hometown) when he was around 5 years old.
He attended the Morton schools, graduating from Morton High School in 1946. Afterwards, he served in the U.S. Army paratroopers, stationed in Japan after WWII and during the Korean Occupation. He had a favorite story about coming back to the U.S. in his uniform, visiting his Grandpa Tim in Minnesota, and having his grandpa walk him around the neighborhood proudly introducing him. Returning home, he went to Centralia College on the G.I. Bill and played on their baseball and football teams. A football game highlight was playing in Pasadena, California, in the Rose Bowl Stadium against a Los Angeles community college team. He continued playing baseball as a left-handed first baseman in his 20s on local town teams. His enthusiasm for sports was lifelong and that included following all his grandchildren’s teams.
Bruce married Marilyn Kirkendoll in 1951 and together they built a house on property that was originally a land grant received by his great-grandfather, William Priest, a Civil War veteran in the Kentucky Union in 1908. There they raised four children, shared many adventures, and had a menagerie of animals over the years. Bruce and Marilyn enjoyed traveling in their motorhome throughout the U.S. and Mexico. They shared many happy times visiting with their children, grandchildren, and friends from Washington down to Arizona.
As a young man, Bruce worked for St. Regis Logging, also working on their firefighting crew when needed. Later, he owned several businesses, including Union Oil with his brother Gary. He always loved heavy equipment and his last business was Skidder Done logging and landscaping.
Bruce had many interests that included traveling, sports, hunting and bowling. His outdoor skills also allowed him to help search for downed planes in the heavily wooded areas a couple times. He was a member of numerous clubs through the years, including the VFW, the Moose, the Elks, Toastmasters, and bowling leagues, as well as being a Morton school board member and running for Lewis County commissioner in the 1970s. In 2013, Bruce served as the grand marshal for the Morton Loggers Jubilee.
Bruce was a social guy and enjoyed a wide circle of friends. It was hard to walk around Centralia, Chehalis, Eatonville, Toledo, or Olympia without him seeing people he knew, stopping to relive old games or swap stories about mutual acquaintances.
After his wife, Marilyn, passed away in 1996, Suzanne Medema came into his life. Bruce and Suzanne were married in 1999 in Las Vegas, Nevada. After the marriage, Bruce moved into Suzanne’s home on Winslow Hill where they enjoyed hiking and riding four-wheelers. Some of their many travels included a trip to Mexico, a cruise to the Bahamas and several trips to Arizona where Suzanne was introduced to so many of Bruce and Marilyn’s friends who also became her lifelong friends. They attended lots of ball games between the two families’ grand and great-grandchildren, as well as birthday parties and school programs. Spending time with family and friends was Bruce’s greatest love next to his western music which included “Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson.”
Bruce was preceded by his parents, wife Marilyn Mae Coleman, son Bruce Timothy Coleman, and brother Gary Keith Coleman. He is survived by his wife Suzanne; his three children Deb (Jon) Kime of Olympia, Doug (Lynnae) Coleman of Morton and Forrest (Beverly) Coleman of Eatonville; nine grandchildren Sarah (Joel) Blackmon, Ariel (Luke) Starbuck, Jill (Chris) Valley, Leann (Collin) Smith, Matt (Tasha) Kime, Kaleb Coleman, Alex Kime, Kaitlin (Brian) Garton and Wyatt Coleman; and four great-grandchildren Cedar Starbuck, Rosalie Starbuck, Sawyer Smith and Griffin Smith.
He is also lovingly remembered by Suzanne’s children Pam (Steve) Buchanan of Chehalis, Renae (Chuck) Clevenger of Morton and Holly (Wes) Sutton of Puyallup; seven grandchildren Tiffany (Sam) Taylor of Chehalis, Corrie (Josh) Morgan of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Charlie (Alicia) Clevenger of Morton, Cassidy Alison of Mossyrock, Melissa (CJ) Hensley of Renton, Riley and Sawyer Sutton of Puyallup; eight great-grandchildren Delani Buchanan, Taylen Clevenger, Kayden Clevenger, Madison Clevenger, Hendrix Clevenger, Crosby Clevenger, Jericho Clevenger and Carmen Taylor.
We, his family, will remember him as a cherished and beloved storytelling husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother-in-law and uncle.
A celebration of life will be held Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, at 3 p.m. at Brown’s Funeral Home in Morton. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation be made to the Morton High School Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 982, Morton, Washington, 98356 or a favorite charity.