Lela Ann (Tidwell) Coleman, loving wife, mother, grandmother, and friend, died on Friday, November 13, 2020, at the Skagit Valley Regional Hospital. She had been hospitalized on October 16 for acute pancreatitis. Lela lost her valiant fight despite the extraordinary efforts of her skilled, compassionate, and caring medical team of nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists, and many other technicians, assistants, and providers of care. Lela died with her loving husband of 56 years, Steve, and her devoted sister-in-law, Micky, by her side. Lela's and Steve's son, Scott, daughter-in-law, Libbie, and granddaughter, Ainsley, were with Lela in spirit from their home in Austin, Texas. Lela was born in Texarkana, Arkansas, on July 23, 1943. Although she referred to herself as a Texan (or former Texan), it always rankled Lela that the only hospital in town at the time was on the Arkansas side of Texarkana. She was the oldest daughter of Raymond and Clarise Tidwell and sister to her younger brother, Larry. Her childhood was spent in and around DeKalb, Texas. Lela attended Texarkana Junior College and Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. She completed her internship in medical technology at Baptist Hospital in Houston, Texas. Lela was certified as a Registered Medical Technologist in 1965. In later years, she specialized in Microbiology. Lela married Steven Laurence Coleman, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, on September 5, 1964, in the Austin Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in DeKalb, Texas, the church she attended in her youth. Lela and Steve had met in 1963 in Pasadena, Texas, at the wedding of her college suite-mate and his Air Force barrack's mate. Their marriage was a true partnership, as they made decisions together on what the future would hold for them. From 1964 to 1993, Lela and Steve traveled the globe as they pursued his Air Force career, which quickly became their Air Force career. Twelve of those years were spent overseas where they relished assignments in Japan, Turkey, England, and Germany. Stateside, they enjoyed living in Texas, Ohio, Maryland, Colorado, New York, Michigan, Nebraska, Washington, and New Jersey. Their best assignment had to be in Rome, New York, for there they first met and adopted their wonderful son, Scott. Scott was five weeks old when he came into their lives and made them complete. Of course, in later years, Scott's marriage to Libbie Collins and the birth of their daughter, Ainsley, made Lela's and Steve's family more compete and even better. Five years after retiring from the Air Force, Lela and Steve decided he should go back to school for his Master of Divinity degree, and they should then go into Christian Ministry. In 2004, their life's journey brought Lela and Steve to Mount Vernon, when they accepted a call to become the pastor family for Mount Vernon First Christian Church, where they were still happily serving upon Lela's death. Lela was much beloved. She was enamored with life, people, service, giraffes, reading, travel, family, Facebook, her church family, giving, and receiving. Lela felt a glass of wine always made a conversation and a good meal just a little bit better. She laughed a lot, was a little sarcastic at times, cried with friends in their travails, found just the right kind of gifts, fought through her health problems with grace, and lived life to the fullest. Lela will be missed by everyone who knew and loved her. Lela chose to be cremated through the Neptune Program. Her ashes will live with Steve until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted sometime next year. Scott, Libbie, and Ainsley will then join others on a boat trip to Deception Pass Bridge, Lela's most favorite place in the northwest. There Lela's ashes will be scattered along with some of her favorite flowers. Lela will then truly rest in peace, and so will all of us. When the coronavirus pandemic eases, a memorial service will be held in the First Christian Church she loved and was so much a part of. Everyone will be invited to join in a celebration of Lela's extraordinary life. Godspeed, Lela.
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