Rest in Peaceful Laughter Aunt Coke

Rest in Peaceful Laughter Aunt Coke

We buried my dad’s sister Coke today. She was 79 years old. She and my uncle George were married nearly 61 years.

To try to put into words what she was like isn’t truly possible. When I say she was one of my crazy aunts, I mean that in the most loving, spectacular way.

Her obituary from the funeral home:

Carol S. “Coke” Umbarger


Newton, IA
Sep 20, 1935 – May 10, 2015
VISITATION SERVICE At the funeral home
Wednesday, May 13th, 2015
5:00pm to 7:00pm
FUNERAL SERVICE At the funeral home
Thursday, May 14th, 2015
BURIAL SERVICE At Newton Union Cemetery
Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Carol “Coke” S. Umbarger, 79, of Newton died on Sunday, May 10, 2015, at Skiff Medical Center. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m., Thursday, May 14, at the Wallace Family Funeral Home and Crematory. The family will greet friends from 5-7 p.m., Wednesday, at the funeral home. Memorials in Coke’s name may be left at the funeral home.

Carol, the daughter of Carroll and Jennie Ruth (Dodd) Dickerson, was born on September 20, 1935 in Newton. Coke was united in marriage with George Umbarger on July 23, 1954 in Newton. She worked for many years at the Jasper County Courthouse. Coke was a member of the VFW Women’s Auxiliary and a long time volunteer at Emerson Hough School. Coke loved to camp at the Iowa State Fair and Diamond Lake. She was a loving wife, mom, grandma, great-grandma, sister, aunt, and friend.

Those left to celebrate Coke’s life are her husband, George Umbarger of Newton; children, Jane (Jeff) McDermott of Newton and Rick (Brenda) Umbarger of Newton; her son-in-law, Wayne (Kim) McCoy of Newton; grandchildren, Nicole McCoy, Nathan (Stacie) McCoy, Sean (Rachel) McDermott, Patrick (Mari) McDermott, Ben (Cari) McDermott, Colton Umbarger, and Grant McCoy; her great-grandchildren, Carter, Trent, Lainey, McKynna, Kinser, Carlee, Sofia, Ethan, Landon, and one on the way; siblings, Kathy (Chuck) Hewitt, Chuck Dickerson, Dianna (Murray) Dougan, Lloyd (Barb) Dickerson, Bill (Bobette) Patton, and Mike (Sharon) Patton; her sister-in-law, Barb Dickerson; many nieces, nephews, and good friends, including her best friend, Marilyn Lamb. She was preceded in death by her parents; daughter, Judy McCoy; and siblings, Everett, Bobby, Richard, Donnie, Leroy, Jean, Mag, Lois, Lela, and Penny.

The funeral and the time at the cemetery was lovely, although I suspect it was the first time Dead Skunk In The Middle Of The Road was played at that funeral home, but the time afterward at the luncheon was spectacular. My cousin Arica had been given strict instructions by Aunt Coke that we were to laugh and drink and have a good time, and Arica had a box of jokes and stories that Aunt Coke had saved for people to share at her celebration. Stories were told for hours by her family and friends.

One of the fascinating aspects to me was that many of the stories, which brought us to tears from laughter, were often stories of poverty and alcoholism, difficult childhoods and strict discipline. This family of 17 children lived through stress and hardship I cannot even imagine. They handled it, and shared stories about it, with grace and perspective. My dad didn’t want to talk about it, so I was grateful to hear these stories that others knew so well.

It was such a joyful way to remember this amazing woman who brought love and ribald humor to this world. There’s no one else like her, and if I bring half the love and laughter to the world that she has, then it will have been a life well lived.

I’m trying to figure out how I can be the “crazy” aunt to my dearly beloveds. It will be of a different variety than Aunt Coke because she was a legend, but I’ll think of something. Although if I ever latch on to your face and give you a big slobbery kiss, you’ll know it’s in her memory.