Life Story / Obituary
To know Billie Coffman was to love him as he was truly one of a kind. He was warm, fun-loving, and someone who accepted others just as they were. Mr. C, as he was often known, was an avid outdoorsman who took in so much of what life has to offer each and every day. It was not uncommon to see him ditch-hopping to find the best wildflowers to bring home to his beloved wife with whom he spent the best years of his life. Billie was a devoted husband and father who served as a role model to his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who follow in his footsteps. The world will never be the same without Mr. C here, but all who knew him are forever changed for the better because of him.
The decade of the 1930s was an unprecedented time in our nation’s history that was cloaked in hardship at the hands of the Great Depression. By 1932 the unemployed reached 13 million and wages were 60 percent less than they had been in 1929 prior to the crash of the stock market. There was joy to be found, however, such as in the family of Freeman and Lois (Coffman) Inman since it was on November 11th of that year that they celebrated the birth of a healthy baby boy. Born in Kankakee, Illinois, Billie Gene was one of several children in his family.
As the depression of the thirties gave way to the forties, the struggles of our nation shifted to the pains of a nation at war as we became deeply entrenched in WWII overseas until 1945. Just as the baby boom was underway, Billie emerged a young man and was ready to take the world by storm. He served in the Army for a time where his strong work ethic flourished. When his duty to his country was fulfilled, Billie worked as a relief man for Armstrong for 36 years until he retired in 1985.
Life was forever changed for Billie when he met a woman named Barbara Jean Roberts. There was an undeniable attraction between them and after falling deeply in love, they married on March 23, 1985, at St. Mark United Methodist Church in Kankakee. Billie and Barbara were best friends who could even finish each other’s thoughts.
Throughout his life, Billie was one who was always on the go. He did anything and everything outdoors from building houses, to tapping trees for homemade maple syrup, to growing countless vegetables and fruits. Mr. C was an avid outdoor sportsman who loved hunting, especially bow hunting, as well as fishing and everything else in between – except for those pesky red squirrels! He never wasted anything he caught either, and he canned everything including deer, fish, chickens, and vegetables, too. Billie even made his own wine known as “Billie’s Best.” It had the perfect color and texture, and his children often helped him with it as well. After he retired, Billie took a 12 year vacation to Wisconsin beginning in 1986 but when his family needed him, he quickly returned home.
Closer to home Billie was a member of River Valley Christian Fellowship Church and collected nearly everything imaginable. He loved his three dogs, Mickey Mouse, Isabella Rina, and Ashley, and was a wonderful neighbor. When grandchildren joined the family, nothing could have been better and as far as Billie was concerned, grandchildren were for spoiling rotten - and he did so with every opportunity. Mr. C often went shopping at Sam’s Club, but he usually tried to go during the times they were offering free samples as he loved making his way around the store trying all the tasty bites. Later when his mobility became limited, Billie still figured out how to escape from his wheelchair to shop.
Billie Coffman never met a stranger and there was no such thing as a handshake in his book as only a hug would do. He was adored by all who knew him and in return, he deeply loved others as well. Although he enjoyed many things in his life, nothing was closer to his heart than the family who was his greatest source of pride and joy. With the love of his life by his side for many years, he created a brilliant tapestry of memories that will be cherished by those he leaves behind. He will be deeply missed.
Billie Gene Coffman died on Friday, March 18, 2011. His family includes his wife, Barbara of Martinton; daughters, Vicki (Pete) Stich of Woodhull, IL, Deborah (JR) LaFine -Rhoads of Watseka, Denise LaFine of LaPorte, MN; sons, Jeffrey (Lynette) Coffman of Manteno, David Coffman of Manteno, Philip (Robin) Coffman of Peoria, Daniel LaFine of Walker, MN, and Dennis(Robyn) LaFine of Vancouver, WA; 36 grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; brothers, Mike Inman of Bradley and Randy(Donna) Inman of Bradley; sisters, Mary Green of Bourbonnais, Rosie Cox of Bradley, Margie Roberts of Bourbonnais, Georgetta (Ryland) Gagnon of Bradley and Ivy Roberts of Bradley; sisters-in-law, Shirley Coffman of Kankakee and Ivy Coffman of Kankakee; brothers-in-law, Jim Goudreau of Kankakee, Wayne Havner of Limestone and Bill Collins of St. Anne; as well as numerous nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews. Billie was preceded in death by his parents; grandparents, Vera and Otto Coffman; brothers, John Coffman, Sam Coffman, George Coffman and Pat Inman; sisters Josephine (Donald) Reimus, Bea (Jim) Grant, Norma Goudreau, Millie Havner, and Peggy Collins. Funeral services will be held at the Kankakee Chapel of Schreffler Life Story Funeral Homes, March 23, 2011 at 11 a.m. A time for family and friends to gather will be held at the Kankakee Chapel of Schreffler Life Story Funeral Homes, March 22, 2011 from 4-8p.m. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com where you can leave a favorite memory, sign the online guestbook, share a special photo and view Billie's video tribute.