Nina Elvira Martin Coultas, 100, of Methow, passed away Nov. 27, 2017, at her home in Seattle. She was born at home on Sept. 26, 1917, in Rochester, Washington. Her parents, Allen May Martin and Effie Lutitia Martin, had a small farm there where they grew strawberries, potatoes, beans and other crops on the Grand Mound Prairie of southwest Washington. Nina shared the various farm tasks, such as weeding and watering the garden, with her 10 siblings as they all worked to help make ends meet.
Her formal education ended at eighth grade when she had to begin working outside the home to help support the family. She took a number of jobs in Olympia, including working at an oyster cannery and being a governess to the young children of a state legislator while living in their mansion.
The next chapter of her life began in 1946 while visiting her sister and brother-in-law, who was enlisted in the U.S. Navy and stationed at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. He was a shipmate of Dale Coultas and suggested that Dale should come on a double date with them and his sister-in-law, Nina. Their first date began a relationship that saw them married just three months later and that endured for 63 years, surviving many traumas and long separations due to Dale being on extended deployments with the Navy.
Nina and Dale had five children, who became the primary focus of Nina’s life for the next 68 years. At the time of her passing, she counted an additional 38 members of her clan, a feat that gave her immense pride and joy and many occasions where she could entertain and feed this large group in style. No one ever left hungry if she was in the house!
After Dale retired from the Navy and the Merchant Marines, he and Nina began looking for a place to settle down. They eventually found the perfect place near Methow, situated on the banks of the Methow River. In addition to a large home, the property had commercial pear and apple orchards to manage, which they knew nothing about. They looked at this move as a challenge they could handle and handle it they did! Working always as a team, they did the hard work of pruning, thinning, spraying, moving irrigation hand lines, fertilizing, mowing and finally harvesting the fruit. As members of Crisp N’ Spicy Growers in Pateros, their fruit was awarded the highest honors for quality, a testament to their hard work and willingness to learn all about having a successful orchard.
In 2012, Nina made the difficult decision to move to Seattle and live at Ida Culver House where she could maintain her independent lifestyle without the worry of making meals and maintaining a large home. She continued to receive family with all the graciousness and love she always exhibited.
In 2016, she again moved, this time to the Evergreen Group Home. Then, 2017 was a year of incredible milestones that included turning 100 and becoming the oldest member of her family on either side. In the early hours of Nov. 27, with her family at her bedside, she passed from this life into her eternal rest. Our sadness has been tempered by the reality that she is now continuing an incredible relationship with the love of her life, Dale Coultas.
Nina is survived by her children, Sandra (Bill) Sparks, Cle Elum, Washington; Diane (Bob) Bowlin, Seattle and Winthrop; Bill (Sandy) Coultas, Olympia; Kevin (Susan) Coultas, Brier, Washington; Lori (Jerry) Hixson, Carlton; 14 grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild.
Final interment will be alongside her husband, Dale Coultas, at the Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, Washington, later this year.