OBITUARY: Nicole Ruth Coleman

February 21, 2020
By Marcy Shortuse

It is said that there are some who bring a light to the world that is so great, it remains even after they are gone. Those words might have been written about Nicole Coleman, because even though she left us on Monday, February 10, 2020, it still doesn’t feel like she’s gone. She certainly fought like a true warrior to stay on this earth, and traces of that strong energy still run through all who knew her well.
Nicole Ruth Russell was born on December 28, 1980 and lived in her hometown of Paraparaumu, New Zealand, about a mile from the beach. While her sister entered the world slowly and surely, Nicole was trying to make her entrance as her mother walked in the door to the hospital. As a toddler, she was trying to sprint before she could walk.
Nicole’s love of fishing may have began in her early childhood, when her family would take many trips to the beach. She would watch her father and his friends drag net and pull the crabs from the nets between hauls.
While both of her parents were teachers, Nicole was more interested in sports than lessons. She became passionate about rugby, though she excelled at almost every sport she tried. Her love for team sports was legendary around her hometown, and even with her tiny frame she could sack the best and biggest of the opposing team’s players.
While in her early teens, Nicole announced to her parents that she wanted a horse. They told her that under no circumstances could they afford one, and she would have to earn the money herself to buy one. Within a year she did just that, and she continued to care for that horse until she left home. When she had a responsibility, she took it very seriously.
She loved people and where you found groups of people you found Nicole. As a teenager she was surrounded by friends, and the Russell house sometimes was the place where more than two handfuls of teens would end up spending the night, covering every surface in the small home the family had.
As her father said, she was completely and utterly loyal, and there was no gray area in anything she was passionate about – only black and white. She was a champion of those being treated unfairly as well, and was always willing to fight the good fight and speak her mind. Because of these traits, she maintained friendships that were decades old, even across thousands of miles.
Nicole came to the United States first in 1999 as a camp leader with the Camp America program, and again in 2000, when she spent three months in the summer here. Following the 2000 summer camp, through a series of fortuitous events she ended up living in the United States permanently. She traveled the world with one of her jobs where she made even more friends, which led her to Boca Grande.
In 2009 Nicole met Charlie Coleman, a Boca Grande native who stole her heart. It worked out well that Charlie is a fishing captain, as not only did Nicole love to fish, she was really good at it. Looking through stories from years’ past in the local newspaper, she can be found smiling from the stage at tarpon tournament celebrations, with a check or a trophy in her hand.
They had three boys together – twins named Jacob and Lucas and the youngest boy named Hudson. Nicole was involved in all of the boys’ activities at The Island School and was a friend to many there. She also got the boys involved in soccer and flag football, and she loved to watch them play.
Nicole was strong and determined in all things. For example, she carried and delivered full-sized twins to full term … she was proud of that. Hudson, on the other hand, came into the world like his mama, barely making it to the hospital.
Nicole was a homemaker who was powered like the Energizer bunny, ensuring that everything that needed to be done got done. You could always count on Nicole for anything you needed, whether it was a friend, a shoulder to cry on, a shopping buddy or just someone to have your back. She always made sure to reach out to friends and family near and far, and would arrange gatherings to ensure that friends stayed close and the friendship stayed intact.
She would listen, she would advise, she would make you laugh … even if it was at her own expense. If you were getting a hug from Nicole, she would always pull you in real quick before she wrapped her arms around you.
She was always able to tell you the truth and “how it is.”
She loved the simple things in life. She loved fresh bread with butter and cheese (blocks of sharp white cheddar were a must in her refrigerator). She loved making her own family traditions, and was insistent that the boys knew her side of the family history.
She was the righthand to Charlie, always working alongside him, keeping him in check, scrubbing boats, doing whatever needed to be done. She quickly adapted to Charlie’s lifestyle while being true to herself.
Charlie and her three boys were her world, and she wanted nothing more in life than for her boys to be raised to become good men, and that is exactly how she raised them.
Nicole loved to go to football games for Alabama,  go to the farm in Alabama, Marlin tournaments in the Keys or Cuba.
She always lived life to the fullest.
Nicole’s boys treasured many, many things about their mom. Like how when she walked in a room, it lit up. How she made people feel loved, and how kind she was. How she tried so hard to make sure no one felt forgotten. They loved her accent, her laugh, and her smile.
And, they added, her hair. She had great hair, and a great accent.
The boys loved fishing with Nicole, and each of them have wonderful memories of catching their first tarpon with their mom, on dad’s boat. They went to Georgia together last fall, and each boy got their first deer.
She shines through each of them every day.
Nicole realized she wasn’t feeling well in 2018, and in November of that year she realized she was fighting a demon of a disease called cancer. With help from her family and friends she tried just about every treatment possible, all the while taking care of her boys and her husband. She had a smile on her face almost every time you saw her, no matter how she was feeling.
It wasn’t until the day … the hour … the minute she died that any of us thought that hideous disease would really take her from us. It always seemed she would be the one to beat the odds … that if the universe had any sense or logic to it, it would be her. At least she passed away at home, surrounded by her family, and by love.
At her memorial service days later more than 500 people came to say good-bye, and to pay their respects. She touched so many people, from so many walks of life and social statures; it seemed as though everyone in Southwest Florida and beyond knew her, somehow. It was a simple gathering, as she would have intended, with laughter and love instead of lots of tears and pain.
To our friend Nicole: You were one in a million. Your spirit will always have a place to rest here in Boca Grande.