Charles Coley, El Dorado

Charles Coley

Coley, Charles Franklin, 93, passed away on Tuesday, November 21, 2017 at Susan B Allen Memorial Hospital, surrounded by his family.  Charlie was born April 25, 1924 in Ft. Bayard, New Mexico to Charley and Sadie “Burchell” Coley, after having traveled by covered wagon from Oklahoma.  His early years were spent in Carlesbad, NM living on a flatbed farm trailer, with his mother cooking on a campfire nearby.  When it rained, they hunkered down under the wagon.  Growing up in Carlsbad New Mexico, he was the oldest of 7 children; 3 brothers and 3 sisters.

On November 11, 1942, Charlie joined the U.S. Army Air Corps.  In January 1943, he attended an aircraft mechanic school in Lincoln, Nebraska, followed by gunnery school in Las Vegas, Nevada where he became a Sergeant.  He was a top turret gunner on a B-17 and then later grounded to Guam where he repaired and rebuilt engines for B-29s.

While in Lincoln, Charlie met and married Wilma Edwards on February 23, 1944.  They later moved to Des Moines, Iowa where Charlie helped establish KIOA radio station.  Charlie and Wilma had two children; Michael in 1951 and Susan in 1953. They moved to San Diego, California in 1955 where Charlie was an aeronautical engineer and draftsman for General Dynamics.  He worked on the Atlas Missile Project which is still in use today.  The family returned to Des Moines in 1966 and Charlie became a broadcast engineer for KRNT/KCCI channel 8 television station.  He retired after more than 20 years with the station.

Following the death of Wilma in 1982, Charlie met Leah Hervey Jave while roller skating and they married September 28, 1985.  In the early 1990’s, Charlie and Leah moved to the Southwest, spending several years in Arizona before moving to the Carlsbad area.  They enjoyed spending their winters in the desert warmth while spending their summers traveling the Midwest to visit family and friends.  In 2005, Charlie and Leah moved to El Dorado, Kansas to be near family.

Charlie enjoyed weekly dances along with Pickers and Fiddlers at the senior center as well as participating in the local chapter of the MS Society.  Charlie’s other interests included cooking, woodworking, old westerns, John Wayne, and showing dogs.

Charlie was preceded in death by his parents, his 6 siblings and first wife Wilma.  He is survived by his wife Leah Coley of El Dorado, KS; son Dr. Michael (Pam) Coley of El Dorado, KS; daughter Susan Hartzer-Mills of El Dorado, KS; grandson Richard (Courtney) Hartzer of Lynn Haven, FL; granddaughter Michelle (Ryan) Bailey of McLouth, KS; granddaughter Caitlin (Robert) McClelland of Valley Center, KS; great grandchildren Emily, Andrew and Audrey Hartzer and Colt Bailey.

Memorial contributions in his name may be made to Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital Foundation or American Legion Post 81.  Please sign the online guestbook at



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