Herschel Francis Coleman, 92, of Richland passed away on Monday, Nov. 23, 2009.

Herschel was born Dec. 26, 1917 in Bickleton, the son of Joseph and Lula Coleman, where his family had homesteaded in 1880. The youngest of five children, Herschel grew up in Bickleton, where he spent summers on the family ranch and winters in the family home in town.

He attended school in both Bickleton and Sprague and graduated in 1935 from Bickleton High School.

His youth was spent working on the ranch, participating in sports, fishing, hunting, playing the violin and singing in church, school and the community. His extraordinary talent in music resulted in numbers of awards throughout eastern Washington.

Herschel attended Washington State University and was a member of the Theta XI Fraternity. He ran a weekly radio show, which featured music of his era. He graduated in 1942 with a Bachelor of Arts in music and a Bachelor of Education in education.

Herschel met his wife, Elaine, on a blind date in 1939. They were married on Feb. 8, 1942 at the Methodist Church in Sunnyside.

Following graduation, Herschel and Elaine moved to Garfield, where Herschel taught school until he was drafted into the Army in December 1942. Herschel served his country from 1942 to 1945 and was stationed in Spokane, California and Salt Lake City, Utah. He was very proud to have served his country during WWII and made many long lasting friendships among those he served with.

Herschel became the father to his son Douglas and his daughter Susan, while he was in the Army and to Richard after he and Elaine moved to Bickleton following the war.

Herschel and Elaine and their children lived in Bickleton for five years, during which time Herschel worked on the Coleman family ranch with his brother, Howard drove a mail route and farmed on his own land.

He and Elaine were involved in music in the community, where Elaine accompanied Herschel in his many musical activities. He also taught music to high school students in the family home.

Herschel and Elaine moved to Yakima in 1950, where they worked in a family-owned grocery business. Herschel directed the Barbershop and the Sweet Adelines choruses in Yakima and sang in a quartet that performed throughout the state.

He was involved in school and other activities with his children, as well as in many community organizations. Herschel looked forward to trips to the family ranch in Bickleton, where he helped with his brother, Howard in branding calves in the spring and moving the cattle to and from timber pastureland in the spring and in the fall.

He loved his fishing trips with his sons and the annual fishing trip to Canada with his father.

After living in Yakima for 13 years, Herschel and Elaine changed careers and moved to Kennewick in 1964. They joined the Scott and Fetzer Company, where Herschel was a district manager for 16 years until he retired.

Herschel and Elaine built a cabin at Lake Cle Elum and Herschel was very proud of this labor of love. He and Elaine cherished time spent there throughout the years, with reunions of family, Army friends and with many friends involved in barbershop music.

Herschel received many honors through these years, but none so cherished as being named honorary president of the Alder Creek Pioneer Association.

Herschel and Elaine moved to Bellingham in 1991, where they lived in a retirement community. Herschel served on the Board of Directors for this community and he and Elaine enjoyed many activities there.

They celebrated their 63 wedding anniversary on Feb. 8, 2005. Herschel's beloved wife, Elaine passed away in June, 2005.

Herschel returned to his roots in eastern Washington in December 2006.

He enjoyed his trips to Bickleton, visits with many family and long-time friends, barbeques, musical activities and lots and lots of sunshine. He enjoyed singing, yodeling, and playing his harmonica for the many friends he made with the staff and residents at Life Care Center of Richland, where he lived.

Herschel's heart was always in Bickleton. He loved to tell his life's stories about the community, his heritage, family and his never-ending love for Elaine and his children.

He is survived by his children, Doug of Bellingham, Sue of Olympia and Rich of Kennewick, and their families; and many other family members; and friends.

Funeral services will be held Friday, Dec. 4, 2009, at 11 a.m. at Bickleton First Presbyterian Church in Bickleton, with burial to follow at Bickleton I.O.O.F Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, Herschel requested that any donations be made to Bickleton First Presbyterian Church, Rebekah Lodge or Odd Fellows Lodge.

Those wishing to share their memories or sign Herschel's online memorial book may do so at

Smith Funeral Home in Sunnyside is in charge of arrangements.


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