Lucy Coleman was 'pillar of McBaine'

Thursday, July 24, 2014 | 7:07 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Lucy Coleman lived in McBaine nearly her entire life. She was a wife, a mother of four and an entrepreneur. And she made delicious gravy. 

"Nobody made a breakfast gravy quite like hers," said Ginny Coleman, Lucy Coleman's daughter-in-law. "I've got the recipe, and I've tried to make it, but it doesn't taste like hers."

Ella Lucille "Lucy" Coleman died Tuesday, July 22, 2014. She was 87.

Mrs. Coleman was born March 31, 1927, in Centertown, Missouri, to Martiles and Nellie (Tooms) Vaughan.

At the age of 6, Mrs. Coleman and her family moved to McBaine, where she met her future husband, Carl Coleman.  They were married on Sept. 21, 1946.

Mrs. Coleman and her husband owned two restaurants, The Wagon Wheel and the Cottonwood Inn, before opening Lucy's Burgers and Beverages in 1958. The couple owned and operated Lucy's for 21 years, until Carl Coleman's death in 1979. After that, Mrs. Coleman took full control of the restaurant.

In the early years, the restaurant not only served as a place for people from McBaine to come for a sit-down meal but also as a pseudo-grocery store. 

"People would come and get canned goods, milk and cold cuts," said Elaine Robbins, Mrs. Coleman's daughter.

She and her brothers were always helping around the restaurant, Robbins said.

"She'd say 'This needs to be done and that needs to be done,'" Robbins said about her mother. "And we did it."

Robbins described her mother's personality as "headstrong, assertive and stern," but said she always had the best intentions for her family and her community in mind.

Along with running the restaurant, Mrs. Coleman served as clerk for the village of McBaine, volunteered at the Columbia Area Senior Center and served on its board and was elected treasurer. She was also an auxiliary member of the VFW 280, Eagles 2730 and Elks 594. 

She attended Huntsdale Baptist Church.

She played a prominent role in almost everything in McBaine, Robbins said.

"She talked, and they listened," Robbins said. "She was definitely the pillar of McBaine."

Mrs. Coleman sold the restaurant in 2009 to her great-nephew, but she didn't leave it for good.

"She would tell (the new owners) what they were doing wrong," Robbins said. "She still had the keys to the restaurant, so she would come in and make coffee before anyone got there."

Even when she moved into Bethel Ridge Estates, a senior living center in Columbia, she found herself frequently coming back to McBaine.

"She would drive about 11 miles nearly every day to McBaine," Robbins said. "She had to visit with her friends and the restaurant."

"She'd always come over (to Lucy's Burgers and Beverages) in the afternoons," said Ginny Coleman, Mrs. Coleman's daughter-in-law who owned the restaurant until it closed June 30. "She'd always have one chicken strip and a few fries."

After two years of living away from McBaine, Mrs. Coleman returned to the town where she had lived most of her life. She moved into a mobile home, where she lived until 2013.

"She couldn't stay away," Robbins said. "McBaine was her home."

Mrs. Coleman is survived by a son, Carl, and his wife, Brenda, of Columbia; a daughter, Mary Elaine Robbins and her husband, David, of Marshall; a brother, Roscoe Vaughan, and his wife, Mary, of Sikeston; 13 grandchildren; and a host of great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

Her husband, Carl Coleman; two sons, Donald and James Coleman; three sisters; and six brothers died earlier.

Vistiation will be from 5 to 7 Monday at Memorial Funeral Home, 1217 Business Loop 70 W., with services to follow. In addition, there will be a celebration of life in McBaine at 2 p.m. on Aug. 2.

Memorial contributions can be made to Columbia Area Senior Center, 1121 Business Loop 70 E., Columbia, MO 65201.

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