Nina Jane (Sundquist) Coefield, 97, of Great Falls, Mont. died following a brief battle with pneumonia on January 4, 2022. A Graveside Service will be held at the Highland Cemetery on Saturday, May 28th at 1:00 p.m.
Sharp and spunky to the end, Nina enjoyed crossword puzzles, good books, good jokes and low-stakes gambling, but her truest loves were the people around her. She held an unwavering commitment to and deep love for her family and friends. Hers was the gravitational pull that kept her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren together. She instilled in each of them commitment to family, love of learning, and relentless practicality and pragmatism. (Yes, we could have held her funeral in January, but the roads are better in May, and she'd prefer we all be safe for her life celebration.)
Nina was born in Great Falls to French and Swedish immigrants on November 29, 1924 as the youngest of four children. She lived most her life in Great Falls, where she played in the Great Falls High School marching band, married her high school sweetheart, and raised four children.
While playing in the front row the high school snare drum line, Nina made fast friends with a group of girls who would collectively refer to themselves simply as “Club.” The Club girls remained friends all their lives; through womanhood, motherhood, and eventual widowhood, and provided each other with an unflagging support system. They played cards, watched each others' kids, enjoyed a few cocktails, and vacationed together. For Nina, priorities were family, Club, and then everything else. Nina was the last surviving member of Club.
Nina married Tom Coefield on July 7, 1945 shortly after he returned from flying B-24 bombers for the United States Army Air Corp in World War II. When his postwar stint repairing typewriters proved uninspiring, Tom joined the Montana Air National Guard. He was reactivated during the Korean War to bases around the country, and Nina moved the family to follow him. They lived in Valdosta, Ga. and Wrightwood, Calif. before returning to Great Falls in 1952. Nina worked for several years as a legal secretary, but dedicated most of her life to raising her children and traveling with her husband and friends.
When Tom retired in 1979, the couple began wintering in Apache Junction, Ariz., where they enjoyed the warm weather, and from whence they sent their grandchildren ugly Arizona-themed T-shirts. After 10 years, they grew tired of the travel and remained in Great Falls for every cold, snowy, windy winter thereafter.
All her life, Nina was known for her sharp wit and lively sense of humor. A recreational gambler, if she played cards with you, you were playing for money and you were probably going to lose. Fortunately, you'd only be out some pocket change. The games needed stakes, but they didn't need to be high.
Nina experienced and navigated changing times with pragmatism and adapted well to modern technology. She used her computer to play cards and keep in touch with her family and friends. Her emails, loving Facebook comments and eventual proficiency with Zoom helped lessen the distance between her home in Great Falls and her scattered descendants.
Nina lost most of her hearing before she turned 80, and by her 90s, she communicated primarily through yell-talking, lip-reading, enormous eye-rolls and infectious smiles. Because she could not hear herself, she was generally unaware that her conversational asides were broadcasts to entire rooms. If you've ever wondered if your 95-year-old grandmother is concerned if you're eating enough, and whether your coat is warm enough, and if you knew your haircut isn't really that flattering, the answer is yes. Nina mothered her family to the end. And we all loved her the more for it.
Nina was preceded in death by her parents, Albert and Julienne Sundquist, her brothers, Ron and Don Sundquist, and her husband of 61 years, Thomas Clinton Coefield (1924-2006).
She is survived by her sister, Genevieve Grant (age 100); her children Patricia (Bill) Hoover, Thomas (P. Jane) Coefield, John (Candace) Coefield, and James (Shana Dieterle) Coefield; grandchildren Mark (Beatrix Jenness) Frisbie, Kelly (Charles) McGill, Scott Frisbie, Jenna (Jarrett) Rue, Carolyn (Todd Chakos) Coefield, Sarah Coefield, and Willow Coefield; great-grandchildren Megan (Nick) Hager, Greg (Mercedes) McGill, Kate McGill, Eleanor Chakos, Benjamin Chakos, Finnegan Frisbie, and Raylene Jones; and great-great-grandson Atticus McGill.