Mrs. Vonceil Simmons Coggin, affectionately known to many as “Mama Ceil”, 96, of Chipley, Florida passed away peacefully on Sunday, August 1, 2021 surrounded by loved ones.
She was preceded in death by her parents, her beloved husband Murl Coggin, her sisters Opal Grace and Elois; and her brother Wallace.
Survivors include: her son, Murl Redus Coggin, Jr.; her daughter, Lucy Carmichael; her son-in-law, Wink Carmichael; her grandchildren Whitney and Ethan Carmichael, and Tanith and Brayden Coggin.
Vonceil was born on May 24, 1925, to Glen and Ethel Simmons in Wausau Florida. She grew up on a small family farm without electricity, running water, phone service or window screens. She helped with chores, learning how to grow food and preserve it for the winter months. A cow provided milk. Chickens provided eggs and occasionally one was sacrificed for Sunday lunch. Fishing was another favorite food source. Rolling stores came by periodically and she learned to exchange eggs and live chickens for flour, rice, coffee and sugar. Life didn’t change much for the family when the Great Depression of 1929 occurred. They were already living in a depressed state.
Vonceil and her siblings attended school in Wausau, Hard Labor and Chipley. Her first employment was a weekend job at Huggins Department Store in Chipley where she worked for credit to purchase fabric to make clothing. In December of her junior year, Pearl Harbor was attacked and the United States entered World War II. She graduated in 1943 and took her first job working at the Wainwright Shipyard in Panama City to assist with the war effort. She later returned to Chipley to work in a local bank.
She married Murl Redus Coggin in December 1950. Together they built the first modern motel in Chipley, with 42 motel rooms, 12 apartments and a restaurant. She assisted in the daily activities of the business until 1960 when they welcomed their first child, Murl Redus Coggin, Jr. and sixteen months later their second child, Oda Lucia.
Vonceil was an active member of the First Presbyterian Church for fifty years. She held leadership positions at the local and presbytery levels, taught Sunday School, directed Vacation Bible School, played the piano and sang in the choir. In her later years, she became an active member of the First United Methodist Church of Chipley where she participated in Bible studies, started a Prayer Chain Ministry, and continued singing in the choir until the age of 89.
Vonceil was a Girl Scout leader, a Boy Scout leader, a Red Cross contact, a member of the Garden Club and the Literacy Volunteer Board. She became a Master Gardener and shared her love for gardening by teaching dried and floral designs to the children at Kate Smith Elementary School. She assisted them in entering their arrangements in the Youth Fair. She knew the value of education and returned to college, graduating with honors from Chipola Junior College at the age of 61. She continued to hone her sewing skills by attending the sewing class at the Technical College up until the age of 90.
Vonceil enjoyed the mountains of North Carolina where she spent many summers. She had the opportunity of a lifetime to spend 8 weeks in 12 countries, including the Holy Land and Eqypt. She was able to share vivid memories of this trip up until her death.
Vonceil accepted Jesus as her Savior at the age of 9. She spent years worshipping regularly, studying Scripture and praying. She stood on the Promises of God and anchored her soul in Jesus and when her final moment on earth came she slipped peacefully into the arms of Jesus.
Due to the recent surge in Covid cases, a graveside service will be held at the Glenwood Cemetery on Thursday, August 5, 2021 at 4:00 pm. No family visitation is planned to prevent a large gathering. However, individuals may pay respect at the Brown Funeral Home Chapel on Wednesday, August 4, from 12 pm to 6 pm or Thursday, August 5, from 8 am to 10 am.
In Lieu of flowers the family has asked to consider making donations to the local Food Pantry.
Family and friends may sign the online register at www.brownfh.net.