Wilfred “Willie” Coolidge

POLAND – Wilfred “Willie” Coolidge passed away quietly at home on April 10, 2021, after a brief illness, surrounded by those who loved him dearly.

Willie was born on Oct. 21, 1924, the second of what was to be seven children. He loved sports and while at Bethel’s Gould Academy played football, basketball, and baseball. Willie continued with Legion Baseball playing second base for years after his service in the U.S. Navy was completed.

Hearing his Nation’s call, Willie enlisted in the U.S. Navy at the age of 18, where he was selected to attend radio school in Boston and was assigned to the U.S. 7th Beach Battalion. Willie participated in the June 6, 1944 landings on Omaha Beach in Northern France. His battalion’s role was to establish and maintain shore-to-ship communications, and Willie’s skills as a radio man were highly valued. Although he seldom ever discussed those experiences, Willie was proud of the fact that he radioed in the command for General Patton’s tank division to come ashore. On Nov. 17, 2010, in gratitude for his courage, French President Nicolas Sarkozy bestowed upon Willie, France’s highest honor, the Legion of Honor.

After returning from the European theatre, he traveled to San Diego to begin readying for the next phase of WWII. There he had his fondest memory of his time in the service; attending the Rose Bowl and having the honor to watch the game from the field sidelines alongside his fellow servicemen. For the Pacific theatre, Willie sailed on the USS Karnes, with stops at Pearl Harbor, Okinawa and then Formosa (Taiwan).

After the end of WWII, Willie returned home to settle in Bethel, married Neva Mundt, and began working at the Oxford Paper Company. Always a hard worker, Willie worked six days a week there until his retirement, while always making time for his family. Willie was an outdoorsman who loved spending his time hunting and fishing with his boys, Tom and Herb.

After Neva passed away in 1990, Willie traveled to Alaska several times with his sister, Nita and her husband Mac, to spend the summer fishing for salmon. He then spent many years in Locke Mills in the companionship of Mary Stone until her passing in 2014.

He is survived by his sister, Nita; son, Tom (wife Christine) with their children, grandson Thomas, granddaughter Amanda, and grandson Dylan; as well as son, Herb and grandson James.

Always with a smile, Willie was a wonderful father and grandfather. We will remember him fondly as ‘the most unselfish, kind, gentle, and brave soul one could have met’. Following Willie’s wishes a graveside burial will take place on Thursday, April 22 at 1 p.m. in the Riverside Cemetery on North Road, Bethel with military honors. Arrangements are under the care of Chandler Funeral Home and Cremation Service, 37 Vernon St., Bethel. To make an online condolence please visit http://www.chandlerfunerals.com.

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