Sisters celebrate 80 years together

Published 5:40 pm Wednesday, June 15, 2022

The Coley sisters spent their Memorial Day holiday reuniting in Greenville after 12 years of being apart.

The sisters were born to Willie and Donnie Lee Coley in Eastman Georgia.

The first of the sisters, Myrtice Coley Clanton was born in 1932. Next came Rae Helen Coley Dean in 1933. Then another daughter, Odessa Coley Washington, came along in 1935. Leola Coley Copeland graced the world in 1936; and the baby of the family, Velma Coley Glasgow joined the bunch in 1942.

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Back then, Eastman was a small farming community in the heart of Dodge county Georgia.

While their mother died when they were young, the children learned early on how to help out on the family farm. Even when their father remarried, the children still helped out with all the chores necessary to keep the farm going.

Odessa, the middle daughter, wanted to get her sisters and all the family together again in the same place. It had been 12 years since they last saw each other, and since the scare of Covid-19 is almost over, what better time than now.

With the help of sister Velma and her husband, Sam Glasgow, who lives here in Greenville, Odessa was able to convince her family that now was a good time, and Greenville was a good place.

The family journeyed in from New York, Illinois, South Carolina and Georgia.

Sadly, the family was not complete. Two of the siblings, Oscar Coley and Lavadus Coley passed away  one year apart, 2012 and 2013, in New York.

Velma and husband Sam moved to Greenville from Rochester, New York in the late 1990s; but

Sam’s family has lived in Greenville for generations.

“Alzheimer’s is slowly taking one of the sisters,” Karen Clanton, who is a niece to the sisters, said. “This event may be one of the last memories they have of all of them together.  This may be one of the last memories they all share.”While the children were growing up in the depression era of the deep south, they reacalled the first Stuckey’s being founded and opening in Eastman in 1937. Back then it was called Stuckey’s Pecan Shoppe. We all recognize it today for its gift shop and ice cream.

Clanton also talked about how her mother and the sisters lived far from their school. The community got together and raised enough money to purchase a school bus for the black children to get to their one room schoolhouse.

The sisters’ cousin, Ethel Lee, was the only woman who could drive the bus, Clanton’s mother recalled, so Ethel drove everyone to school.

Everyone had a great time visiting and reconnecting. They exchanged gifts and old stories, shared good food, a good time, and plenty of love.

“Greenville is a wonderful setting for it all,” Clanton added. She found the town of Greenville to be a nice and friendly place to visit.