Linda Jean Coker died September 11, 2021, at home while surrounded by her family.
Linda Jean Coker was born during a spring blizzard on March 30, 1958, at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins Colorado as the unexpected but much adored 4th and last child to Martin and Elsie Coker. Chronologically, her older siblings are Carolyn Ruth b.1945, Clark James b.1948, and Susan Louise b.1954.
Linda lived most of her childhood in the Stover Street house east of College Avenue. She had many friends in her neighborhood, some of which she kept in touch with all her life. A self-described “tomboy” as a child, she enjoyed lots of swimming during long hot afternoons, built snow forts and snowmen during the winter, and went exploring in the neighboring corn fields. Linda had fond memories of growing up with the Sunset Drive-in Theater just behind their home.
Linda attended local primary schools and graduated from Fort Collins High School in 1976. In high school she played flute in the band and orchestra, participated in the acapella choir, competed on the gymnastics team, was a cheerleader for two years, was senior class president, and was homecoming queen one year. She entered Colorado State University Art Department after high school. Reflecting her growing love for art and antiquities, she graduated 4 years later with a BA in art history and a minor in archaeology.
Linda had several employment positions after graduating. Her most fondly remembered jobs were as a field archaeologist, where she also illustrated the artifacts with a beautiful pointillist technique. Still interested in art, she came back to Denver and started her own artifact illustration business and had the additional goal of getting a master’s degree in art restoration. She also enjoyed an internship at Primitive and Folk-Art Lab and began working at Meininger’s art supply.
She met her future husband and loving partner in life, Joel Jones, while they were both working at Meininger’s art supply in Denver in 1989. They were married in 1995, and celebrated a late honeymoon that Christmas and New Year’s with a month of travel in Italy and Austria, where they took in all the art and architecture they could fit in. New Year’s Eve on the night train to Sicily, getting caught unexpectedly in Saint Peter’s Cathedral for an Epiphany Mass with the Pope, and skiing in the Alps were three of the unforgettable highlights of that trip.
Linda and Joel had two boys, Caelin Isaac Jones in 1997 and Liam Owen Jones in 2000. They moved into a beautiful 1903 house in 1997 in the Sunnyside neighborhood in Denver and then moved, in 2000, to a not-so-beautiful ranch house in Lakewood. This house they remodeled in 2009 into a bungalow style house with a larger kitchen and master bedroom suite. She worked closely with the architect for the remodel and built in the personal touches that they liked.
Linda’s experience in archaeology and art restoration awakened an interest in the sciences, and she went on to earn a second Bachelor of Science in 1999 in Biology from Metropolitan State College, which she intended to use in the medical field. After Liam was born, however, she opted for full time motherhood, and she put her career aside to care for two growing active boys. When Liam was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD, she developed an interest in this (often overlooked) condition and began tutoring other children with dyslexia as her boys grew older. Linda loved travel and exposing her family to different cultures around the world. Linda also had a strong interest in the outdoors and enjoyed gardening, backpacking, skiing, and camping. She was also very involved in the scouting community and enjoyed getting to know the loving families of Troop 240.
Unfortunately, in 2015, when she was looking forward to using her biology degree in the medical field, she was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer and began a long battle which she handled with her characteristic patience and grace. She enjoyed two long remissions before the disease became untreatable.
Linda may have enjoyed art and science, but she was at her best on a personal level. She could defuse anger with a few words, bring a smile with one of her own, and find good things to say about people who had just been rude to her. Her persistently positive outlook and kindness made her a favorite not just among her friends and family but also among her co-workers, fellow moms, just about every child she met, and the doctors, nurses, and staff of UC Health. Her house was the gathering place for the neighborhood kids, not because of snacks and sodas, but because she listened attentively to what they said and treated them more like young adults than children. She will be very missed by all who met her.
Linda was preceded in death by her parents and siblings Carolyn and Clark. She is survived by her sister Susan, her husband Joel, and her children Caelin and Liam.
She wanted the following two quotes to be part of her obituary. They are from plaques at the UC Health Anschutz Campus.
“I need your strength, not your sympathy” – Katherine Winter Burkhart, 2013
“Finding silver linings in cancer treatment sounds odd, but having been through it before, the shock value disappears and lets you realize the good that can come out of something so ostensibly arduous. You start to become aware that the fear and anxiety that bubbles up is the same energy that brings you closer to your true inner being. You notice that all the adversity and hardships that you've been through have only brought you closer to the human experience. You realize that healing and suffering, comfort and fear, love and hate are two sides of the same coin. You watch duality start to fade away and see the beauty of how everything and everyone is connected. These realizations come masked as the name cancer and only after years of ups and downs have I unmasked this blessing in disguise. That is the blessing of illness. That is the blessing of healing. That is the blessing of life.” – Justin Ehmer
In lieu of flowers, Linda wanted trees planted
Donations made to The Nature Conservancy