Cover photo for Lela R.  Coombs's Obituary
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Lela R. Coombs

d. June 10, 2015

Lela Ruth (Arrighi) Coombs, 89, of Onalaska, WI, passed away on June 10, 2015, surrounded by her sons, other family members, and other friends after succumbing to a long illness.

Ruth, her preferred given name, was born July 14, 1925, to John Arrighi and Myrtle (Holman) (Arrighi) Stevens ( Now deceased) in Kansas City, MO. To all her relatives, however, she was acknowledged as “Sugar”.

Ruth was married March 13, 1948 in Erding, Germany, to Cpl. Robert Garfield Coombs of Chicago, IL, who, at the time, was an aircraft mechanic and a prospect ball player for the Chicago Cubs. Shortly after their marriage, she lived in Chicago and moved to Winter, WI, permanently in 1956. Ruth has 3 surviving sons, Robert E. (Sheila) of New Hope, MN, John J. (Cindy) of Palm Springs, CA, and Richard A. Coombs of Onalaska, WI. Also surviving were 7 grandchildren, Rob, Rachel, Meranda, Shana, Liana, Jeffrey, and Lacy, as well as 12 great grandchildren.

Ruth graduated from Northeast High School in 1943, and Kansas City Junior College in 1945. She was a devoted long-time believer in higher education and later attended the UW-Stout, Menominee.

A proud World War II Veteran who joined in the summer of 1945 entering the Woman’s Auxiliary Corps at Des Moines, IA. In 1946, Ruth served as a WAC in the War Department Branch of the Chief of Staff at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C. under General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Later in 1946, she transferred the HQ and Base Service Squadron, 43rd Squadron Air Depot, Erding, Germany, serving in the Army of Occupation-European Theater. Ruth was promoted to Corporal in the US Army Air Corps, later as the US Air Force, during the Berlin Airlift Action and was discharged in June 1948.

While in Winter, WI, Ruth was a member of the Winter Presbyterian Church. After moving to Onalaska, she was a member of the North Presbyterian Church doing parish work. Ruth was remembered as one of the founders of the well-regarded “Cookie Walk”.

As a working mother, Ruth worked at the Winter Public School, as a Supervisor of the School Lunch Program from 1965 to 1973. She also taught at Western Wisconsin Technical College – La Crosse, Food Production 1st Year Program form 1973 until her retirement in July 1987. It was acknowledged the Ruth taught hundreds of students who hold positions as chefs and institutional cooks throughout the Midwest. After ‘retiring’, she also became a care provider for mentally challenged adults for 8 years. Ruth loved to travel and always seemed happiest working with many with her forever-expanding family and friends crafting, gardening, and cooking.

Funeral Services will be held at 11:00 AM, Monday June 15, 2015 at North Presbyterian Church, 1327 N Salem Rd, La Crosse, WI. Rev Scott Skogen will officiate. Burial will be held in the Onalaska City Cemetery with Military Rites performed by the Roy L. Vingers American Legion Post No. 52. Friends and family may call from 10:00 AM until the time of service at Church on Monday.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Lela R. Coombs, please visit our flower store.


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