Pattie Coles may have well been the oldest woman in Langley when she died this weekend.
The 105-year-old was a recent resident of Simpson Manor in Fort Langley, but had spent much of her later life in Langley.
She had an “amazing life,” said her granddaughter Pam Erikson.
“Pattie was an inspiration to so many and will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved her,” she added, noting a service is scheduled for Monday, May 9, at Henderson’s Funeral Home in Langley. The service begins at 11 a.m.
She was born Pattie Grayson on Aug. 21, 1910 in England, marrying Bernard Firth and living much of her life in a town called Mossborough, on the border between Yorkshire and Derbyshire.
The coupled moved to Canada in 1972 to be closer to family. Both their surviving children – Shirley and Reg (and their families) – were already living in Langley. So this would become her new home.
She and Bernard had three children: June Firth (predeceased), Shirley Walkley of Langley, and Reg (Fay) Firth of Vernon.
Coles is also survived by four grandchildren, including Pam and her husband Tom, Teresa and Ben Choquette, and Neil Firth – all of Langley – as well as Julia and husband Gunnar Loveng of Oak Harbour, Wash.
She also leaves behind nine great-grandchildren, and three great-great grandchildren.
Coles’ husband died in 1974, and in 1982 she remarried widower Percy Coles.
The two spent eight years travelling around the world, including numerous trips to Reno, Nevada, prior to Percy’s death in 1990.
“My grandmother was the most unique person I have ever known. She had been through two world wars, outlived two husbands, had three children – and lost one at the age of nine –emigrated to Canada from England at the age of 62, and then started work here,” Erikson recalled.
“She loved her family, especially the men and babies, and she loved dancing and gambling, having met her second husband, Percy, in Reno. She loved travelling with Percy and Hawaii was one of their favourite places.
“She was a Leo – making her a stubborn, opinionated and blunt-in-your-face lady! She always knew what her mood was – she never hid it! She drank tea as hot as you could imagine – it would scald anyone else, but she loved it! And her food had to be piping hot too – we even had to run her dinner plate under hot water before putting her food on it. She definitely knew how she wanted things,” her graanddaughter elaborated.
While Coles loved spending time with family and friends, Erikson said her grandmother was also very active in the community.
Coles has kept busy her whole life, whether on the farm she worked on with her first husband, with travel, or with the legion. She was a legion colour bearer until the age of 75, and she is a lifetime member of the ladies auxiliary.
She worked at the Langley Lodge for many years, was also a member of the jazz club and loved to dance – she even dancing at her 100th birthday at Newlands in 2010 – and had her favourite place at the casino.
It’s unclear, but Erikson said Coles might have actually been the oldest person in Langley – not ever, but at present – prior to her death.
When Coles was turning 100, Walkley attributes her mother’s long life to an unusual fact.
“She never had a drink of water since she was 16,” Walkey said, noting Mom prefers orange juice or tea.
Asked to recount one her favourite story about Pattie Coles, her granddaughter found it hard to chose just one.
“There are so many stories about her that they will probably run through my mind for years to come – she left an impression that will last a lifetime,” Erikson said.
With a little more prodding, she shared her memories of their card games together: “My mother and I lived with my grandparents for a few years while I was in high school in England. The bus would drop me in front of their house and I could see my grandmother through the window, sitting at the table waiting for me – cards already shuffled and dealt, waiting for me to come and play with her. That was our daily routine and memories I will treasure forever.
“Above everything though, was how much she loved us all. Every time a new baby arrived, she was thrilled. We were fortunate enough to have had two sets of five-generation pictures with her over the last few years – something not many people are fortunate to get.”