Remembering Victor Coolidge
REMEMBERING VICTOR COOLIDGE
Victor Coolidge’s recent death removes from our midst one of East Bethel’s best-known residents, whose lively personality and often over-the-top sense of humor touched the lives of so many who came to know him. More than two hundred family and friends attended his service in the hay field where he was stricken. It was one of his favorite spots and was especially appropriate as the location for a celebration of his colorful life.
Vic loved history and was a life member of the Bethel Historical Society. For years, it has been his custom to stop by the society with his Annual Fund gift and to see what new history books we offered that he did not have. Often his visit would lead to some discussion of East Bethel and remembrance of certain details regarding the “characters” we had known while we were growing up. Vic always had some memorable tales to share, a number of them not particularly fit for innocent ears, but how he enjoyed telling them. Usually I could add a lurid detail or two to make them even more outrageous much to his delight. I don’t think he ever forgot anything he had seen or heard in his sixty years of life. As I recall, he always parted with a big smile on his face and I came away shaking my head, but with a greatly enhanced appreciation of his extraordinary storytelling capabilities.
Vic possessed a strong work ethic and owned one of the neatest farms in the neighborhood. He was devoted to his family and commanded great respect as the ultimate good neighbor, who invariably enjoyed life to its fullest, especially if there was ever a hint of scandal or display of human foibles to catch his full attention.
The last time I saw Vic was at his cousin Cindy’s funeral earlier this year. He appeared as irrepressible as ever, full of stories and pithy comments despite his lung cancer diagnosis. We later walked about the East Bethel Cemetery as I entertained him with some stories I recalled from annual graveyard clean-ups of the past as well as those days when my father was sexton and I helped him dig graves. I emerged from that experience greatly admiring his bravery and buoyancy even though as we all know now his life was about to end ever so abruptly.