Wilma Grace (Bateman) Combs, 87, passed away peacefully Saturday, April 27, 2019, at her home in Elberfeld. She was surrounded with love from her daughter, Teresa; her son, Chris; and her son-in-law, Ken. She is at peace with our lord and savior and is reunited with her husband, Keith, who passed away last year.
Wilma was born on Oct. 8, 1931 to the late Frank Henry and Opal (Williams) Bateman in rural Warrick County outside of Boonville. Wilma was the third of eight children. She had six sisters and one brother.
She is survived by her daughter, Teresa Kay Allen (Ken) of Elberfeld; son, Christopher Allen Combs (Kara) of Newburgh; son, Stanley Keith Combs of Boonville; sisters, Helen Elzer of Evansville; Edith Bullock of Boonville; Martha Heitcamp (Peter) of Middletown Springs, Vt.; brother, Charles Bateman of Woodbury Minn.; brother-in law, Harvey Gene Combs (Debbie) of Plainfield, Ind.; grandsons, Shane Keith Allen (Ariel) of Evansville; Kevin Andrew Allen (Vanessa) of Jacksonville, N.C.; Cayman Christopher Combs of Boonville; great-grandsons, Skyler and Eli of Jacksonville, N.C. She had 24 nieces and nephews who loved her very much. They always loved to go to Aunt Wilma and Uncle Keith’s house.
In addition to her parents, Wilma was preceded in death by Keith, her beloved husband of 66 1/2 years; and her mother-in-law and father-in-law, William E. Combs Sr. and Bonnie Fern Combs. Also preceding her were sisters, Lois Gorrell, Nera Schultze, Ruth Stamps; brothers-in-law, Williams E. Combs Jr, Donald Elzer and Tim Schultze; sisters-in-law, Vera Jean Combs, Carolyn (Cookie) Combs and Betty Combs.
During her childhood Wilma lived on a farm in Warrick County. She learned to can and preserve. She especially liked to make jellies, tomato juice and freeze corn, which she and her daughter continued through the end of last summer. As she got older, and became more involved in school activities, she and two sisters would spend more time in town with their grandparents. By her teen years they were living with them. She was a member of the high school choir, 4-H, church, sub deb club, as well as several others. Wilma did a lot of babysitting and also took care of her great aunt’s granddaughter. She was never afraid of hard work. During high school, she and her friend, Vera Gammons (who later became her sister-in-law), would run to the Dinner Bell restaurant and wait tables for their lunch and a few tips. Then they ran back to finish their school day. She was in the homecoming court with her good friend, Dorothy Collins. Wilma was a popular girl who made friendships that lasted a lifetime, so much so that her daughter still thinks of some of those friends as her aunts.
One evening while at her friend Evelyn (Barclay) Henderson’s house she met a young man. His name was Keith Combs. They dated through the rest of high school and college. Keith was an athlete who played basketball, baseball and football. He also coached and refereed for over 30 years. She used to laugh and say she would like a dollar for every game she watched or every mile he ran. Keith’s best friend was Bob Folsom. Bob was dating her friend, Dorothy Collins (whom he later married). They graduated from Boonville High School in 1949 and the four remained friends for the rest of their lives. Her best friend, Dorothy, passed away on April 17, 2019, just 10 days before Wilma. Their daughters, Teresa and Becky, grew up together, even though one lived in the city and one in the country. Like their parents they have always been friends (sisters of the heart) and will remain so forever. We rest easy knowing our parents are together again in heaven. After graduating, Wilma worked as a telephone operator in Boonville and attended Lockyear Business College.
On June 8, 1951, Wilma married Keith Combs (the love of her life) at Main Street United Methodist Church in Boonville. They lived a wonderful fulfilling life together for over 66 years. Together they raised three children. Wilma was always strong in her faith and made sure the children went to church. They attended Central Methodist, and later the Methodist Temple where she taught Sunday school. Wilma was a Girl Scout leader, den mother, Boy Scout leader, 4-H leader, room mother and active member of the PTA. She and Keith supported their children activities, whether it was sports, music or life in general. When their youngest child was 10, she decided to go back into the workforce. However, she wasn’t sure she what wanted to do. One day at Dr. Parvin Raibley’s DDS office she told him that she wanted to get a job. Parvin was another friend from high school. He suggested she talk to his son, Bruce. Bruce was just graduating from dentistry school and setting up practice in the same building as his dad. Somehow she got the courage to speak to Bruce about it. She told him that she didn’t know anything about being a dental assistant. He said he didn’t know anything about running an office so they would learn together. Whenever he hired a new girl they would ask what am I supposed to do. His answer was just do what Wilma does and you’ll never go wrong. They worked together side by side until she retired 33 years later. When their son, Chris, wanted to start his landscaping business they let him put up a shade building in their back yard on Covert Avenue. That was the start of Combs Landscaping and Nursery. Not one to stay idle Wilma was always doing something or helping someone. Over the years, many nieces and nephews stayed at their house. Their door was always open and there was more than enough love to go around. 15 years ago they decided to move from Evansville. They built a new home close to Elberfeld. It was built by their son Chris. Both Keith and Wilma loved their new home. They enjoyed sitting on their back porch watching the deer, rabbits, hummingbirds, turkeys, and other wildlife. After moving to Elberfeld, they started attending Zoar United Church of Christ.
Wilma was a member of the Order of Easter Star in Boonville. She and Keith loved to Square Dance and spend time with family and friends. Wilma was a great cook. Dinners at her house were always looked forward to. She loved to read, play bingo, Sequence, and watch the Hallmark Channel. She and her daughter would call each other to say there is a good movie on. Be sure to watch! Wilma loved to watch the birds and had several feeders in her back yard. She also collected Department 56 houses in the North Pole series. The St. Louis Cardinals were a favorite of both Keith and Wilma. If there was a game on, they were probably watching. Over the years they went to St. Louis for many games and she proudly wore her Molina shirt. She also liked the Colts and the Pacers. Wilma had season tickets for the Philharmonic Pops Concerts and attended for years. She was a member of a Boonville Bridge club that played twice a month. Many members were lifelong friends. Wilma also played in the Evansville 3-Arts Teacher’s wives club for over 40 years. In the last year she had helped her daughter learn to play as well. Once a month she met with high school friends at Double D’s Restaurant in Boonville for lunch. She also loved to go to garage and estate sales.
Keith and Wilma loved to travel. They took several cruises with friends and family. Their trips took them from coast to coast and several places around the world. They went to San Diego for their oldest grandson, Shane’s birth. They flew to Guam for their second grandson, Kevin’s birth and years later attended his wedding in Mexico. They didn’t have far to go when their youngest grandson, Cayman was born here in Evansville. They went with several of her siblings to Germany for a nephew’s wedding. They have also been to Atlantis in the Bahamas, Hawaii, and Barbados.
Shortly before Keith passed away, she and Keith had decided to start going back to Main Street United Methodist Church. They were married there over 66 years ago and it felt like going home. Wilma and her daughter continued to attend whenever she felt well enough.
Wilma was a gentle loving soul. I never heard her utter an unkind word about anyone. She was loved by all who knew her and will be missed very much. She was a wonderful wife, daughter, sister, aunt, and the best mother a kid could ask for! God has a beautiful new angel in heaven.
From your children: Mom, you were the greatest. You were always there for us with advice, understanding and most of all unconditional love. You will be missed more than words can express. We will keep you in our hearts and always try to live by your example!
Wilma’s children would like to add a very heartfelt thanks to Dr. Karl Sash who took such good care of our mother and father. You are a great doctor and a truly wonderful friend. We would also like to thank ALL the staff of Heart to Heart Hospice. Without your help her journey would have been much harder to bear. We would also like to send a very special thanks to Jamie, Julie, Lora and Melody.
Visitation will be Sunday, May 19, 2019 from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. at the Main Street United Methodist Church, 222 E. Main Street, in Boonville. Funeral service will follow immediately afterward at 5 p.m. Interment will be at a later time. Flowers may be sent to Koehler Funeral Home Boonville Chapel, 304 E. Main Street, Boonville. Donations may be made to the American Cancer Society, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America and the American Heart Foundation or any charity of your choosing.