Dale Eugene Coons passed away at 10:45 p.m. on Wednesday, August 10, 2016, finishing a long and very active life of 91 years. Friends and family alike will always remember him as Coony, the guy who lived on the Pink House Corner.
He was born on November 27, 1924 in a small farm house a few miles northwest of Dana, IL. He was the second son of Leonard Vincent and Anna Lutz Coons. The love of his life was Jane Evelyn Tucker, also born in a small farm house, this time just south of Dana, IL. They met while attending Dana High School and survived a whirlwind motorcycle courtship while she worked as a secretary in Bloomington and he returned to work on the farm each day. It should be noted that the shiny motorcycle did not survive the experience. They were married on January 6, 1947, in the city of Seattle, Washington where Dale was stationed on duty to the Coast Guard. Jane's father drove her to the train stop and wished her well as the engine pulled from the station to head west across the seemingly endless prairie. His wife Jane passed away on October 16, 2008.
One of his legacies to the world is his family. Surviving include one son, Don Eugene (Barb) Coons of Rutland, IL; one daughter, Janice Coons (Thomas L. Janssen) of Minonk; three grandchildren, Tracy (Jake) Tounget of Killeen, TX; Todd Kobriger (Angelina Troff) of Denver, CO but currently in Sydney, Australia; Eric Janssen of Minonk; and four great grandchildren, Zach and Zoe Tounget; Elizabeth and Annabel Kobriger.
In addition to Jane, he was preceded in death by his parents and older brother, Raymond Coons.
His career was in farming. He was the 4th generation of a legacy that was begun by his great grandfather, Daniel. The family immigrated to the unbroken plains of the prairie near Dana from upstate New York. They homesteaded here just after the civil war. His younger years normally saw him in the fields, regardless of the weather.
Never one to follow the norm, he raised sheep, ponies, and golden retrievers instead of the usual hogs and cattle. He and his brother specialized the farm production to corn and soybeans. One of his pleasures after retirement was simply to drive the country roads to watch the crops grow during a good production year.
His many passions included hunting, fishing, trapshooting, and golf. Venison, pheasant, duck, goose, rabbit and squirrel were standard fare on the Coons table with a large stock held back in the freezer, regardless the time of year. He also enjoyed frying fish, prepared on the tail gate of his truck and always featured the freshest caught crappie, blue gill, bass, channel cat, snook, snapper or reds. It's a fair guess that nearly half the town of Minonk and his Florida communities attended one of his fish fries at some time or another.
His passion for hunting also led him at a very young age into the pursuit of competitive shooting. He was a lifelong member on the Amateur Trapshooting Association and active participant of their chapters in both Illinois and Florida. Summers were a long procession of attending various shooting events all over the Midwest. The red and white striped trailer always was packed and the next event always planned. These trips all culminated in the Grand American trapshoot at Vandalia, Ohio. Among his many accomplishments he won the Governor's Trophy for Illinois State Handicap Championship at the Pine's Gun Club in Streator, IL in 1959. He continued winning awards throughout his life into his late 80's, as a senior veteran.
Winters normally found him in Florida since the early 1970's, either Pine Island near Fort Myers, or the Silver Dollar Golf & Trap Club near Tampa. In winter, the weather was normally more pleasant in Florida than Illinois, and the fish were much larger. One of his most memorable moments was the morning that he spent fighting in a particularly large tarpon. It took nearly six hours to land and weighed 212 pounds. It was one of the largest fish to be landed in the state that winter. Both the fish and man lay exhausted on the beach together in the end. He removed one scale and released the fish to the wild. It also should be added that this fish was not the largest one that he ever caught. The largest one was a flounder that he caught in Alaska after driving Jane and the camper the entire length of the Alaska Highway across Canada to Alaska. It weighed 240 pounds and went into the frying pan.
His passion for all things wild continued throughout his life. His last deer hunt was one of the most memorable. He had seen a large buck deer on the farm and watched it long enough to learn its haunts. He hunted from a stand that he occupied long before dawn, bagged the eight-point buck with one of his oldest shot guns, field dressed it, loaded it into the bed of his pickup truck, and hauled it to the butcher for processing-all on his own. Dale was in his 80's.
In between his time spent at all of these pursuits, he also found time for many other pleasures. He was a member of the cheerleading squad back in Dana High. He served as a volunteer firefighter for the city of Dana for many years. He was a lifelong member of the Catholic Churches in the area. Every morning started with the daily paper and coffee. The evenings were spent working on Sudoku puzzles or watching one sporting event or another on the tube. Much of his time in later years was devoted to caring for his beloved Pomeranian dog, Dusty, who started life as his wife Jane's pet. Dusty now lives in Killeen TX with Dale's granddaughter, Tracy.
The family wishes to thank Dr. Shay (his cardiologist) and staff who kept Dale's heart beating for over 30 years since his first heart attack. The family also wishes to extend heartfelt thanks to the staff of the Heritage Health-Minonk facility for their tender care during the last few weeks of his life. They helped him to pass with dignity and grace. In the end, he simply fell asleep with very little pain or fear. His back won't need scratching any more.
Dale had a deeply instilled gift of gab and loved to just visit with friends from all over the country regardless of their status in life. His family hopes that you will join them to celebrate his life at a visitation to be held on Monday, August 15, 2016 from 5:00-8:00 p.m. at the Ruestman-Harris Funeral Home in Minonk. Cremation will be accorded. Memorial mass and burial is scheduled for Sept. 17 at St. Patrick's Church, Minonk with visitation at 10:00 a.m. followed by mass at 11:00 a.m. in order to give his far flung family time to travel and attend.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Friends of EverBloom, his favorite fishing holes- www.friendsofeverbloom.com. Online condolences may directed to www.ruestmanharrisfuneralhome.com
5:00 PM - 8:00 PM (CDT)
Ruestman-Harris - Minonk
775 North Chestnut Street
Minonk, IL 61760
11:00 AM (CDT)
St. Patrick's Catholic Cemetery
Minonk, IL 61760
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