Cover photo for Gertrude Coffin's Obituary
Gertrude Coffin Profile Photo
1932 Gertrude 2009

Gertrude Coffin

September 13, 1932 — September 23, 2009

Gertrude D. Coffin died September 23, of the effects of Multiple Infarct Dementia at the Highgate Senior Living Memory Cottage. She was born September 13, 1932, to Edgar and Exilia Dupuis in Berlin, New Hampshire, where she attended parochial and public schools. English was her second language. On January 10, 1956, she married Arthur, also a native of Berlin, and moved to Boston, MA, where he was concluding his active duty in the Navy. Subsequently, she lived in Ligonier, PA, Madison, WI, and Pullman, WA, before moving to Bozeman, Montana, in 1972. At first, Gertrude and Arthur lived across the street from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts where they spent Sunday afternoons touring the MFA holdings, but they soon moved to Winthrop, a Boston suburb on the North Shore. Gertrude#8217;s first daughter, Mary, died at childbirth; her second daughter, Cathleen Ann (born in 1958), lived, despite congenital heart defects, until 1993. A very good cook and a meticulous gardener, Gertrude enjoyed hiking with Arthur and Cathy to fishing sites in Yellowstone National Park. When they arrived in Bozeman, the Coffins were skiers; Gertrude was comfortable on the slopes at Jackson Hole, Squaw Valley, and Bridger Bowl. Gertrude worked for New England Tel Tel in Berlin and Boston and in banks in Pullman and Bozeman. In Pullman and Bozeman, Gertrude was active in foreign food dinner clubs and formal dance groups. She and Cathy were founding members of the Bozeman chapter of Mended Hearts. Gertrude volunteered at the Museum of the Rockies, the Bozeman Symphony, Love INC, and other groups. As long as she could, she served in various roles at Resurrection University Parish. For many years, she enthusiastically served as an election judge. When Arthur retired from Montana State University in 1995, the Coffins were free to pursue Gertrude#8217;s long-deferred desire to travel. Sailing first via the Inside Passage to Alaska, Gertrude marveled at calving glaciers in the Alaskan fjords and the midnight sun above the Arctic Circle. On a Smithsonian tour of Greece, she visited sites that Arthur first saw when he spent a winter with the Sixth Fleet based in Piraeus, the seaport for Athens. Of all the historic places she visited in Greece, however, Gertrude was captivated by the exciting ascent to Delphi, the seat of Pythia, the Delphic Oracle. What did Gertrude hear? After the Grecian odyssey, Gertrude participated in a Smithsonian tour of the Imperial Russian Waterways, a canal, river, and lake route from Moscow to St. Petersburg, a project that Peter the Great dreamed of and Stalin ruthlessly achieved with GULAG labor that flooded villages and displaced thousands of residents. The bodies of laborers who died during the excavations still lie at the bottom of the waterway. Nevertheless, today#8217;s visitors travel on ships through beautiful landscapes from Kremlinesque Moscow to #8220;European#8221; St. Petersburg with its many treasures such as the Hermitage. As if she were in a hurry, Gertrude booked the Coffins for a tour of China that focused on the Three Gorges Project, the construction of the largest dam in the world that will flood the Yangtze River valley. Like the Russians, the Chinese will flood many villages and historic sites. The Coffins traveled from Beijing to Chongqing (via the yellow Yangtze) and on to Hong Kong. They were persuaded by what they saw to discard their naive preconceptions of China and replace them with remarkable urban images. Every ten years, the Netherlands sponsor the Floriade, the world#8217;s fair, one might say, of gardening. This event captured the attention of Gertrude#8217;s gardening passion, so, in the summer of 2002, the Coffins toured the Low Countries and enjoyed the Floriade. In an incident at the Louvre, however, dementia began to unmask itself and precluded more tours. Diagnosed with dementia in 2005, Gertrude#8217;s last trip was to Highgate Senior Living#8217;s Memory Cottage where eventually she lost the ability to speak and then to ingest food. She stood, as long as she could, at the Cottage windows to watch for Arthur to arrive for his daily visits and greeted him wordlessly at the door. Gertrude is survived by Arthur and her brother-in-law Chandler of Boston. If one wishes to do so, memorials in Gertrude's name may be sent to the Bozeman Deaconess Hospice, 931 Highland Blvd, Ste. 3200, Bozeman, MT 59715 or the Alzheimer's Association, 70 E. Lake St, Chicago, IL 60601-9971. Funeral Mass will be held at 10:00 am on Monday, September 28, 2009 at Resurrection Catholic Parish.

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