Betty Coleman – Final moments were a celebration


Kimberley Kielley
Shilo Stag Newspaper

Classically trained opera singer Joslin Dennis sang to her grandmother Betty Coleman one last time on Nov. 24.

Betty Jean Coleman, a long-time resident of Brandon, Manitoba, died peacefully that day at home in Victoria, B.C., surrounded by family. She was 95.

She had chosen medically assisted death after a life-altering, inoperable injury that impacted life as she knew it.

Daughter Susan Romphf from Victoria, and son Bob Coleman of Kentucky were also with her when she died.

Betty was a former Honorary Colonel of 26 Field Regiment RCA, and patron of HMCS Brandon. She moved to Vancouver Island seven years ago from her beloved prairie home.

Her final moments were a celebration, said Romphf, adding it was important for her to die in her own bed in the apartment she called home.

An hour before she died, Betty and her daughter sipped chilled dry white wine from a box, waiting for the doctor, reminiscing with family members. 

It was the perfect ending to a perfect day. Betty chose death on her terms, according to the family.

“It was beautiful,” said Romphf, recalling the day. “My brother Bob had bourbon on ice on Zoom with his wife and three kids, while we waited for the doctor.”

Betty decided choosing her own death after attending a seminar on medically assisted death, rather than waiting for it to take her, said Romphf.

“Mum didn’t shy away from discussing it. We had time to prepare. She was ready to go.”

Her life was altered after a fall that broke her hip.

“She was backing up with her walker and sat down and landed on her bum in the kitchen. She phoned to tell me she’d fallen and refused to go to hospital. There was a show on TV she wanted to see,” said Romphf. 

Eventually, she agreed to seek medical help. The injury was inoperable. Betty would face the remainder of her days from a bed.

From that moment on, she actively pursued the steps to plan her death, asking the emergency room doctor for the forms to begin the process.

“This was her life and she was going to live it the way she wanted to. I asked her if she was sure about her decision. She said, ‘I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life.’”

Betty’s cremains will be interred in the summer or fall of 2021, with the burial ceremony taking place at St. Matthew’s Cathedral. 

“There won’t be a service for mum until this [pandemic] is over,” said Romphf. “I told her I wouldn’t do it without her.” 

She will be interred beside the love of her life, Second World War veteran Jack Coleman, whom she married in 1949. Her husband died in 1987.

Besides her daughter and son, Betty is survived by her brother Jim Wankling, seven grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her husband and her brothers Bob and Jack Wankling.


Filed Under: Top Stories

About the Author:

RSSComments (1)

Leave a Reply | Trackback URL

  1. Cal Hoffman says:

    I’ve been searching on line for an artist from Brandon that did oil paintings with the last name of Coleman and thought I would chance it and see if it could be someone from your family. It belonged to my late father H R Hoffman and I would love for it to be returned to the family

    If you have time, please let me know. The painting in question just happens to be in Victoria of all places.


    Cal Hoffman

Leave a Reply

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.