Vernon “Jeff” Coville

February 15th, 2018

Vernon J. “Jeff” Coville, age 88, of Peabody, MA, formerly a long-time resident of Wilmington, MA, died peacefully on February 14, 2018.

Jeff was born on June 16, 1929 in Medford, MA; he was the cherished son of the late Freeman L. and Sarah (Stockman) Coville. Jeff was raised in Malden and graduated from Malden High School.

Following graduation, Jeff enlisted in the U.S. Navy on September 19, 1950 in Boston, MA. Jeff served on the USS Hambleton during the Korean War. After four years of dedicated service, Jeff was honorably discharged on July 15, 1954 and he returned home to his family.

Jeff married his “sweetheart” Elizabeth L. “Betty” Edgett on January 24th 1953. The couple moved to Wilmington in May 1963, where they raised four wonderful children. Jeff was a very devoted father; he spent many years attending countless school and sporting events. When Jeff became “Pappy” to his grandchildren and great-granddaughter; his world became even more wonderful. Jeff and Betty treasured their role as grandparents; there wasn’t anything they wouldn’t do for their family.

Jeff worked hard to provide for his family; for many years he was a Testman for New England Telephone and watched the evolution of the communications field. Jeff was hard working and conscientious; he had a great personality and made many friends with his co-workers throughout the years. .

Jeff was a “giver” of his time and his talents; he was very involved in the community and thoroughly loved to make people laugh. Jeff was involved in several organizations including the Wilmington Minutemen, the Masons, the Aleppo Shriners and the Wilmington Railroad.

Jeff was an original member of the Masons and the Friendship Lodge; for many years he was very active in building ramps on houses for those in need. Jeff was always willing to go the extra mile and lend a helpful hand; he always took pride in the projects they completed.

For many years, Jeff was an active member of the Wilmington Minutemen and took part in their annual walks to Concord for their reenactments. During the Bi-Centennial year, Jeff walked all the way to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to take part in their Bi-Centennial parade and festivities.

Jeff was part of the Clown Unit for the Aleppo Shriners for many years; he is known as a hill billy clown called “Slo-Poke,” but was most famous for emulating “Stan Laurel” in “Laurel & Hardy.” Jeff was part of many parades and circuses over the years including Wilmington’s Memorial Day Parade; he enjoyed entertaining a crowd especially the children and he always looked forward to bringing joy to others and making people laugh. Jeff was very proud of his affiliation with the Shriner’s and for all the good work they do throughout the state and country; Jeff was especially proud of the Shriners Children’s Hospitals and for the care and compassion they provide to children and their families in a time of need.

Jeff was an active parishioner at the Wilmington United Methodist Church where attended services regularly and took his position as an Usher for many years. Jeff made many friends in the church and he was always willing to help with church projects and fundraisers.

Jeff had many talents which included his famous woodworking. Jeff could conjure up any little gadget in his workshop and most certainly had every tool to make that happen. Jeff was known as a “Mr. Fix-It” and could repair almost everything. Following retirement, Jeff took up playing billiards and was always up for a friendly competition with his family and friends.

Jeff will be remembered as a generous, caring person who devoted much of his time to his family, friends, and community. Jeff was truly “one of a kind” and he will be missed by all who knew and loved him.

Jeff was the beloved husband of Elizabeth L. “Betty” (Edgett) Coville, devoted father of Leslie A. Vachalek & husband David of St. Louis, MO, Roger E. Coville & wife Kelly of Columbus, OH, Karen L. Lefebvre & husband Mark of Westford, MA and the late Stephen L. Coville. Loving “Pappy” of Daniel, Erica, Stanton, Cassandra, Ryan, Ashley, Andrew, and Great-Granddaughter Charlotte. Cherished son of the late Freeman L. and Sarah (Stockman) Coville, dear brother of the late Freeman L. Coville.

Family and friends will gather for Visitation at the Nichols Funeral Home, 187 Middlesex Ave. (Rte. 62), Wilmington, on Sunday, February 18th from 2:00-5:00 p.m. Jeff’s Funeral Service will be held at the Wilmington United Methodist Church, 87 Church St., Wilmington, on Monday, February 19th at 11:00 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Vernon’s memory may be made to the Shriner’s Hospitals for Children – Boston, Attn: Development Office, 51 Blossom St., Boston, MA 02114.


10 Entries in Guest Book for “Vernon “Jeff” Coville”

  1. The Dye Family says:

    Uncle Jeff’s commitment to the Shriner’s and their work for children says it all. A life well lived. Rest In Peace.

  2. Ken and Marlene Coville says:

    Devastated by the passing of Uncle Jeff. Many good memories from my childhood. Will miss him terribly.

  3. Cheryl & Mike Morris says:

    We were so sorry to hear of Jeff’s passing. He was such a kind man
    and so giving with his time with the Shriners. We also remember him
    as a creative woodworker and have his mirror/window hanging on our porch.
    Our sympathies to the entire family.

  4. Charlie Cameron says:

    Jeff was a cousin and good friend for over 80 years. Among the memories are family visits at Aunt Sadie’s and Uncle Joe’s when we were school kids, the arrival of the Coville dog Mitzi at my folks’ house when the Covilles were washing cars in Linden, a part of Malden, and fishing for flounder in a very small row boat in Lynn Harbor.

  5. Andrea Watson says:

    I will remember Uncle Jeff’s sense of humor and pursuit of fun. Clown cars in parades, red noses/clown feet at his daughter’s wedding, Jeff was a lesson in doing what you love and bringing joy to others while you’re doing it. He was my “fun” uncle and a truly unique individual.

  6. Roger Coville says:

    Dad took Stephen and I on those same fishing trips out of Lynn. Crazy sea worms and all! Thanks for that memory.

  7. Steve and Sue Baker says:

    Uncle Jeff you were one truly amazing man. Your love for family and others, your compassion , your loving witt, your dedication to the Shriners and the Masons , your carpentry sills (I am sorry to say this side of the family did not inherit) The legacy you have left us is such a gift. I forever remember you coming up to Groveland and giving us a demonstration of you shooting off that muskett. Ane the visits to Wilmington where I always got to watch Roudolph the red nose reindeer and the caring you showed when my mom passed away You and Auntie Betty were there for us every step of the way. That meant more to us kids than you will ever know. May you Rest in Peace We love you xoxoxoxo

  8. Jimbo Baxter says:

    Jeff is very much loved. As a Shriner Clown and Mason he is without peer. Well done… Brother and Friend. You will be missed but always remembered.

  9. Larz "Fred" Neilson says:

    Jeff was a great Minuteman, always ready to march. And who can ever forget him as Stan in his Laurel & Hardy routine with Jack Betts. All his clowning was done for the best purposes, a great Shriner.

  10. Jane Hill says:

    I have been thinking of all the smiles and laughter that Jeff brought
    to a gathering or event…….. Keep all those memories close …… A good Man , Husband, Father and Friend….. My sympathies to ALL who loved that MAN …..

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