Caroline Mae (Caroline Mae Otter) Coykendall

May 8, 1934 ~ August 29, 2021 (age 87)




Our eyes are filled with tears and our hearts with sorrow.  Not so very long ago we said goodbye to your son, our brother, our uncle, Sam.  Too soon, we are faced with having to also say farewell to you, Mother, Wife, Grandmother, friend.  The angels came, your son among them, calling out your name and gave you your wings so richly deserved.


On Sunday, August 29, 2021, Caroline M. Coykendall passed away at home surrounded by family in Brighton, Michigan.  No matter what life threw at her, she not only survived, she excelled and did so without complaint and always with love and compassion. 


What a life she lived!  Born in Chicago, Illinois on May 8, 1934, she was the youngest of seven (7) siblings and as of her death was the sole surviving sibling. Raised in Ashland, Ohio, she was honored in the Ashland High School newspaper, The Panorama, in her junior year for all her achievements there: Student Senate president, Jr. Girls Reserves, Panorama Newspaper staff, College Club, Athletic Club and the Ashland High School Choir.  The December 7, 1949 article described her as follows:


            “Harboring a keen interest in dramatics and singing, she prefers the classics and finds ‘All in the April Evening’ - a choir song, her favorite.  Speech and English classes rank tops with her.  This brown-eyed brunette enjoys summer and swimming, takes pleasure in watching Bill Rogers on the basketball court, and if and whenever she is able to scrape up spare time, she devotes it to reading.  Looking forward to college at Wittenberg and here senior year here is your Student Senate president who doesn’t like to eat because it takes up too much of her time.”


After her high school graduation in 1951 and at the age of 17, she indeed attended Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio.  While there, she was in the Alpha Delta Pi social sorority, a member of the a Cappella Choir and won the title of Jitterbug Queen.  1953 found her in Oklahoma where she attended and then graduated from Hill’s University of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma


Returning to Ohio, she left college to marry and by 1959 at the age of 25, she was the mother of three children, Laura, Susan and Samuel.  In 1960, now living in Detroit, Michigan, she found herself suddenly in the role of a single mother with these three young children now ages 1, 2 and 5.  No job, one year of college, a mortgage and no family nearby to help.  She found a job, finished college, got her teaching license [and later a masters] and, aside from student loans never once sought financial assistance.  So determined and proud, after being dis-enrolled from her church because she couldn’t pay her dues, she even once refused a turkey from her church at Thanksgiving.  She was quite capable of caring for her family, you see.  


In spite of those daunting odds, she raised her three children for ten years on her own, and by her example, instilled in them compassion, a great work ethic and the knowledge that they could achieve anything.  In those early days we didn’t have much, but because of her love, we never knew.  Memories of the clickity-clack of the typewriter late at night was our lullaby but it was also thesound of her determination.  If you asked her how she managed all of this, she’d tell you that she simply “pulled up her big girl britches and carried on”.



In 1968, she graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in education.  From there she began her decades long career of teaching high school English in the Detroit Public Schools and while teaching she went on to get her Masters degree.  She always put her children first and her needs came last.  In 1970 her fates began to change.  While teaching at Kettering High School she met a fellow teacher.  It’s unclear who caught whose eye first, but in January or February 1970 she went out on a date.  Daring-do since teachers at the same school weren’t supposed to date. We gaped at him upon his arrival and giggled as he sat down - so tall it seemed his knees reached his ears.  Then, the phone ringing as the three of us all chimed, “Oh, Mom will get it”.  She returned from that first date (hot dogs? getting lost? forgetting your house keys!) and  we could see she was smitten.  We watched her fall in love. On March 23, 1970 she wed Duane Leslie Coykendall (Kirk) and began a life long romance.


With the steady and loving added hand of Kirk, they raised the children to successful adults in spite of their many and frequent antics.  Her babies flew the nest going hither and yon and started careers and families of their own.  By 1992, she was the grandmother of six (6) wonderful grandchildren, Andrea, Phillip, Samuel Jr., Sean, Benjamin and Katherine.  Finances improved and always the scrappy saver, she began to pursue her dream of traveling the world.  Quite a feat to travel all seven continents, her favorite being Antarctica.  One last trip was still on her agenda when she passed - to take the entire family on an adventure somewhere.


In 1993, she retired and then moved to Brighton, Michigan.  While not active in a church, she believed in her form of tithing and being a community volunteer.  Among her many donations, was $10,000 to the Brighton Area District Library which established its first ever endowment where she was also a long time volunteer. Another was her $10,000 donation to the Prentiss Cancer Center at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital as thanks for its wonderful care.  The latter was not known to Kirk until he saw the plaque as “she was somewhat sneaky” about her donations.


Among her grandchildren especially, she was affectionately known as the “Energizer Bunny”.  Her get up and go would put those much younger to shame and she showed such fortitude in being a breast cancer survivor of many years and in facing the sudden death of her son, Sam in 2020.  Yes, she really did pull up her big girl britches and carried on.


To this wonderful human being, mother, wife, grandmother we give you our gratitude for gracing our lives: 


Husband: Duane L. Coykendall;  Children: Laura Plevek (Phil), Susan Youngkin (John), Samuel Lantz (deceased 2020);  Grandchildren: Andrea Plevek (Lindsey), Phillip Plevek, Samuel Lantz, Jr., Sean Youngkin, Benjamin Lantz, and Katherine Youngkin.















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