Cover photo for Larue Coffin Petersen's Obituary
Larue Coffin Petersen Profile Photo
1932 Larue 2023

Larue Coffin Petersen

September 25, 1932 — December 20, 2023

Larue Petersen, 91, passed away on December 20, 2023.  

LaRue Coffin Jones Petersen was born at home in Downey, Idaho on September 25, 1932, to Leland and Emily Wakley Coffin. The youngest of three children, she was welcomed by her parents and older brother, Glen, and sister, Doreen. When LaRue was a toddler, the family moved to Pocatello, Idaho.

As a child, LaRue’s life was shaped by the end of her parents’ marriage. Ever cheerful and cooperative, LaRue was too young to be at home while her mother worked to support the family, and so as a small child, and then when school was out, her summers were spent with her Grandpa and Grandma Wakley on their ranch in Downey. There she felt like little Heidi, spending all of her waking time shadowing her beloved Grandpa George. She learned to love horses as a child riding in the saddle with her grandpa on a pink-eyed, white albino horse named Dolly. He taught her the names of every wildflower and bird, and she developed a love of step-dance with Grandpa George as her dancing partner.

When LaRue was twelve years old, to begin working, she fibbed about her birthdate to get a Social Security card. She worked jobs at the neighborhood market for 10 cents an hour. Later, she worked at a larger downtown store on Saturdays. She also worked as an usherette at the Chief Movie Theatre. All of her jobs provided income to meet family needs.

LaRue attended Washington and Jefferson Elementary Schools, Irving Junior High School, and Pocatello High School prior to moving to the small township of Ammon near Idaho Falls, Idaho, when her mother married rancher, Oren (Jake) Empey. Along with her stepbrother, Alfred Empey, LaRue attended Ammon High School.

Joining a class of 25 was a big change from her high school in Pocatello, and LaRue wondered what this new school would be like. On the first day, her first class was a study hall. Her study hall at Pocatello High has over 300 students. To her surprise, LaRue was the only student in the classroom, and it was the school custodian who stepped to take roll call! As it turned out, LaRue was a welcome addition to the little high school, bringing her talents as a vocalist, tap dancer, actress and cheerleader, along with being a kind and fun-loving friend.

LaRue met her husband-to-be, David Milton Jones, at Ammon High School. The sweethearts had a fun-filled courtship, and were married on September 8, 1950. Daved began calling her Lou, and the name stuck. Lou became a student wife through David’s completion of undergraduate and medical school in Salt Lake City. They welcomed four children: Greg, Gemmie, Becky, and a son, David, who passed away in infancy.

Once David completed his medical training, Lou returned to Pocatello with him to start his medical practice. Family was the center of life for Lou and David, and Lou loved being a mother, having fun alongside her children. The move back to Idaho brought the family closer to the Jones Ranch in Bone, Idaho, where they had a second home. Friends of the family loved being invited to join in the fun there, which always included fresh trout breakfasts, prepared by Lou, and David’s homemade caramel corn.

The family attended the 6th Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where Lou was the music director for the Junior Sunday School, taught Cub Scouts with the help of David, and performed in theatrical musical productions. The family also enjoyed hiking and backpacking into Idaho’s Sleeping Deer area.

Once the children were all on their own, Lou purchased a winter home in Arizona, where she and David spent happy days playing golf, and enjoying the wonderful company of new and long-time friends.

Wherever they lived, whether a tiny apartment, or the dream-house that she and David built with plans they’d designed while in medical school, Lou created lovely, welcoming, and beautiful homes for the family.

Lou loved entertaining, and hosting dinner parties was a passion for her. An active golfer, Lou served a term as the Ladies Association President at Pocatello Golf and Country Club. She also enjoyed playing tennis, skiing, snowmobiling, dancing, playing bridge, and won marksmanship competitions at the Jones Ranch with respecting others as you would want to be respected by them. Lou welcomed other children from the neighborhood into their home, and it was a destination for patio barbeques, band practice, and sleep-overs.

Lou had a deep appreciation for music, and instilled in her children a love of a full range of music. American standards, jazz, bossa nova, musical theatre, opera, and classical recordings filled the house on a stereo system that David designed and built to support her enthusiasm. Her vocal talent enhanced life for all around her with family sing-alongs, and entertaining at social gatherings and formal events with a dance band. There was never a moment in life, good times or sad, when Lou was without a song to sing. Songs to soothe an aching heart, boost low spirits, and celebrate all of life's precious moments and holidays.

With David's passing after nearly fifty years of marriage, Lou relocated her home base to Boise to be near her daughter, Becky. She also maintained her second home in Arizona, where she met and married Glynn Petersen. World travels and experiences with close friends and family filled their time together in Arizona, Idaho, and Utah, where Glynn owned a Park City condo. They shared many happy years, eventually settling into a new home of Lou's design at Meadow Lake Village, a retirement community in Meridian, Idaho.

Their marriage brought Glynn's children, Lisa and Greg, into Lou's life.

Lou's love of beauty was a theme throughout her life. Whether in the wildflowers and birds she was delighted by as a small child, the music she enjoyed and shared, her love of the arts, creating an inviting home, beautiful social gatherings, or expressing herself through her keen sense of style in fashion, she always went the extra mile to ensure that life held beauty for her and those around her.

As Lou and her children reminisced together with laughter and tears to create this life sketch, all agreed to end it on a high note. One of her more playful mottoes was "Always dress like you are going somewhere better, later," and so Lou chose to be buried in a beautiful, ivory evening suit.

Lou is survived by her son Greg (Marie France Woods Jones), and granddaughter Christina (James Smith), daughter Gemmie (Jim Callahan), and granddaughter Tiana Rideout-Rosales (Ariel Belmont-Rosales), and great-grandson Ariel, daughter Becky (Jim Poulsen), and grandson David and granddaughter Jamie, and stepdaughter Lisa Petersen Holmstead. She is also survived by her stepbrother Alfred Empey and his wife Kay.

She was predeceased by her parents Leland and Emily Wakley Coffin, her brother Glenn Coffin, and sister Doreen Coffin Smith and her husband Guy Smith, her husband David Milton Jones, and her husband Glynn Petersen, and stepson Greg Petersen.

Graveside services were held at the Mountain View Cemetery in Pocatello, Idaho.

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