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Elaine Coryell Wilson, our wonderful Mom, died at 11 pm on Monday, September 25, 2023. At 93 years old she passed from this life into the next staying strong every step along the way. She believed in heaven but still wanted to stay with her family. Almost 16 months ago, Mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer and was told that she might live a few more weeks or possibly 3 to 6 months. She always loved exceeding everyone’s expectations of her and lived almost a year longer than predicted. She was the last of her nine siblings to die and as her children, we can only imagine what the celebration in heaven was like. Surely there were mounds of delicious food, singing, laughing, and playing games, with siblings arguing about who won and who cheated. After dinner, we expect that mom walked along a heavenly beach with dad, finally free of pain and able to walk on her own without a walker or a cane.
Elaine Coryell was born in Viborg, South Dakota on February 18, 1930, the youngest of nine siblings. Her sister Hazel called her ‘babe’ and her older siblings often teased her about being spoiled because in their early years in South Dakota, the family struggled financially. Their father, Ernest Coryell, was an early Holiness preacher and later a Church of the Nazarene evangelist who traveled widely conducting revivals and establishing new churches. Because Ernest was often paid with donations of food or small offerings, Elaine’s mother, Matilda Johnson Coryell, had to be creative in providing food for their family. Oatmeal was frequently on the menu, especially for breakfast but some dinners as well. After eating oatmeal every day growing up, Elaine refused to ever eat it again after her marriage. Elaine lived in South Dakota for the first 5 years of her life but left with her family during the Dust Bowl. One day in May of 1936, Elaine’s mother, Matilda packed her children and their few belongings up and drove their model-T Ford to Meridian, Idaho. Elaine recalled sitting on the laps of her siblings the entire way. Life proved better in Idaho, fruits, vegetables, and jobs were plentiful. With the family’s improved finances, Elaine had more opportunities than her older siblings. She joined the volley ball team and became a pole vaulter in junior high school. At Meridian High School, she became a majorette even though her uniform included a skirt that was well above her knees. The father of Elaine’s friend Lucy Sturdivant was also a pastor and had given Lucy permission to join the team and this was enough to convince Elaine’s father to do the same.
Elaine married the love of her life Dale Wilson on April 20, 1949, after he returned from WWII and completed training for his career in the floor covering business. Initially, the two rode together to and from work in downtown Boise where Elaine worked as a secretary at a financial firm while Dale worked at Sunset Floors. Later, she worked as a secretary for several businesses including Equitable Insurance until she became pregnant with their first child and was no longer permitted to work. Together the couple raised four children in a small three-bedroom home built by Dale on Overland Road. When the children were older, Elaine worked at the Soil Conservation Bureau in Meridian. In 1967, she began working at the family store, Nampa Floors and Interiors, first, as a sales person and later, as a bookkeeper. She continued working at the store until she was almost 90 years old.
Elaine met her future husband in the youth group at the Meridian Church of the Nazarene. After their marriage, they attended services faithfully, both taught Sunday School or Vacation Bible School and served on the church board. Elaine also worked as the church secretary for two different pastors. After losing her husband in 2002, Elaine lived on her own for another 20 years. Although she missed Dale every day, she made a good life for herself, seeing one or more of her family almost every day, attending her church faithfully, as well as visiting and playing card games with life-long friends. All the Coryell siblings were competitive, and Elaine never lost that competitive spirit often beating her children, grandchildren, and friends in card games such as Canasta, Hand and Foot, and Pinocle.
A prominent aspect of Elaine’s personality was her adventurous spirit. She wanted to live life to the fullest and pursued a wide range of experiences. She grew up playing baseball with her 8 siblings who joked about having enough players to make up an entire team. Baseball was her favorite sport, and she was a die-hard Mariner’s fan. Every time she attended a Mariners game in Seattle with her children, the team won. At one point, her children teased her that the Mariners needed to finance her trips to Seattle to ensure more victories. She also regularly attended sporting events to see her grandchildren play, cheering so loudly from the stands that she was nearly kicked out by several different coaches. When she could no longer attend games in person, Elaine watched games on her television or iPad, often wearing a T-shirt with the Mariners or Boise State name on the front. She could often be heard admonishing a coach or cheering her team from every room in her home. Another passion involved traveling to new places including taking cruises with friends and family to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Alaska. Hawaii was a avorite destination for Elaine and her family, especially family reunions in Kauai and trips to Maui. She loved walking along the beach hand-in-hand with Dale before he died, watching the sunset, whales, and her grandchildren play. Elaine travelled on many occasions to see her grandchildren in Oregon, California, Washington state, Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Hawaii. Early in her marriage, Elaine developed a passion for opera and often listened to recordings of different operas in her home. Later, when her children were grown, she flew to Portland once a year to see an opera with her daughters.
For those of us in Mom’s family who have been left behind, her home seems empty without her, and we will miss her every day of our lives. We also recognize that we are blessed to be her children and to have been left with the wonderful legacy of her life including her love, faithfulness, kindness, and infectious smile. We will strive to follow her example.
The family would like to thank the wonderful team of caregivers, including family friends and staff from Home Watch, who faithfully and lovingly cared for Elaine during the last months of her life. Caregivers allowed Elaine’s family to keep her at home until her death and became part of their family during this time. They learned how to play cards with Elaine, helped her find her favorite game show channel on the remote and assist her tune into her church services on Sundays. The family is also grateful to First Choice Hospice for their weekly home visits by their nurse and for providing so much support to Elaine and her family.
Elaine was preceded in death by her husband, Dale Robert Wilson, daughter Sheryl Wilson, grandson, Derek Weatherford, parents Reverend Ernest Coryell and Matilda Coryell, and siblings, Earl Coryell, Hazel Ruuska, Doryce Caulk, Dorothy Klett, Ruth DeWaard, Wesley Coryell, Melvin Coryell, and Joyce Law.
Elaine is survived by her four children and their spouses, Bev Wilson and Michael Passer, Doug and Joni Wilson, Cathy and Bob Weatherford, and Roger and Linda Wilson; her 10 grandchildren, Lori Bowerman, Jonathan Stanley, Kara Franklin, Katie Henbest, Grant Weatherford, Jared Weatherford, Emily Weatherford, Trista Widmann, Danielle Kygar, and Kyal Wilson; her 20 great grandchildren, Averi Bowerman Meyers, Emma Bowerman, Rachel Stanley, Zach Stanley, Nathalie Stanley, Allison Stanley, Addison Franklin, Rhett Franklin, Maebry Weatherford, Hazel Weatherford, Evalyn Weatherford, Jane Weatherford, Knox Weatherford, Gatlin Henbest, Collette Henbest, Reese Wilson, Crew Wilson, Reagan Widmann, Hank Kygar, and Sawyer Kygar.
A celebration of Elaine’s life will be held at the Valley Shepherd Church of the Nazarene (150 Maestra Street, Meridian, Idaho) on Saturday, September 30, 2023, at 11 am. An on-line guest book will be available at www/nampafuneralhome.com.
Donation can be made in Elaine’s name to Trinity Pines Camp, 55 SW 5th Ave., Suite 100, Meridian, Id 83642.