Mildred Blythe Coleman (Billie), 93, passed away peacefully at her home in Jaffrey, New Hampshire on August 23rd, 2021, surrounded by her family.
Billie was born September 18th, 1927 in Cortland, NY to Margaret Cole Blythe and Harry Blythe. She and her older sister Lillian, lost their mother at a young age and were primarily raised by their loving father Harry and maternal grandfather Cole. Billie felt the loss of her mother her entire life and made up for it by being one of the most nurturing, engaging and open-hearted people you could meet. Billie had countless fine qualities and talents, and was known for her warmth, humor, wit, and smile, always showing kindness and interest for her friends and family. She was instilled with a keen sense of fun and adventure throughout her life (as a little girl she and her sister Lillian ran away from girl scout camp before sunrise and made it all the way home on foot). At 16, she managed to take flying lessons and obtain her pilot’s license unbeknownst to her father with money she made working at the local soda shop.
Billie graduated from Russell Sage College in 1949 with a B.S in Physical Education. While there she met the love of her life and husband of 71 years (and also a WWII pilot), Bill, on a blind date ice skating, and they were inseparable ever since. Billie and Bill were married June 14th, 1950 in Cortland, NY. In the first few years of their marriage they lived in Upstate NY, Oakland, California and Hazardville, Connecticut before settling in Jaffrey in 1955. It was here they raised their four daughters and made a lifetime of memories and friendships. For more than 60 years they spent summers off the coast of Maine on Swan’s Island, building a family summer residence in 1966 and becoming a welcome fixture among local lobstermen and summer families alike. Billie was an avid gardener and homemaker and together with Bill created havens of both their Jaffrey and Swans Island homes for their family, friends and neighbors.
Billie was an accomplished recorder musician and she taught music at the Well School in Peterborough, NH from about 1969 to 1980. She and Bill played early Renaissance and Baroque music in trios, quartets and quintets with other local musicians. Her daughters grew up learning to play music with her and listening to her play in weekly gatherings at their house in Jaffrey over most of Billie’s life. She was also an accomplished weaver, knitter and spinner and was a member of a local group of women who met weekly many months of the year to share tips and spin yarn in each other’s company. Many family members and friends have at least one blanket, pair of warm socks or sweater thanks to Billie’s textile talents.
Billie shared her husband’s passion for sailing and cruising and they went on countless adventures and cruises up and down the coast of Maine, the Virgin Islands, and the Bahamas. She was also an avid hiker, swimmer, skier, reader and birder, who could identify most any bird or local flora or fauna. She was a fantastic cook and baker, supplying delicious homemade bread and holiday meals to her family for many decades. For more than 15 years she was a dedicated hospice volunteer, using her natural gifts to comfort and care for people experiencing a terminal illness.
She is survived by her husband William (Bill) Coleman, daughters Blythe Coleman of Swanzey, NH, Betsy Potter of Jaffrey, NH, Amy Coleman of Randolph, ME, and Meg Coleman and son in law Philip Bogden of Portland, ME; grandchildren Chris Potter, Mary O’Neill, and Cole Bogden. Billie was predeceased by her sister Lilian Patrick.
A memorial and celebration of Billie’s life will be scheduled at a later date in the fall of 2021.
Contributions in memory and celebration of Billie’s life may be made to either The Society for New Hampshire Forests or Smile Train.