1920 – 2021
Mary Frances “Sissy” Coyte died peacefully at her home in Louisville, KY on March 1, 2021, at 100-years-old. She was born Mary Frances Randolph on October 28, 1920, in Baskett, KY to Enoch Graham Randolph and Bettie Watson Moss, and grew up on the family farm. Life was sometimes hard – her birth came two years after the death of an infant sister, Aileen, and at age 8, Sissy lost her beloved brother David, who died at 16. But her mother was determined that her daughters be educated, and Sissy followed her older sister, Margaret, to Bowling Green, KY for college.
Sissy studied bookkeeping and secretarial skills at Bowling Green Business University (where her father also studied), now part of Western Kentucky University. There she met her future husband, Kenneth A. Coyte. They married in Henderson, KY in September 1941. On the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary, which they insisted be a small family affair, they revealed a secret. While college students, Kenneth had obtained a marriage certificate, wrote “I don’t know if you want this, but ‘I do’” across it, and presented it to Sissy. They were secretly married for about two years before repeating the process for the official 1941 ceremony. In December 1941, they moved into a new home in Clarksville, IN.
Before her children were born, Sissy worked as an insurance clerk at Jefferson Federal Savings and Loan, and as a secretary at Louisville Motors and later the Works Progress Administration (WPA). For about the next 30 years, she was proud to be a mother, homemaker, school and community volunteer, high school sports booster and gardener both for her own home and her neighborhood. While living in Clarksville, she had three daughters, Carole Marie, Mary Katherine and Myrtha Kay. She was active in her community and is most proud of her grassroots organizing to create the Clarksville Little Theatre and the town’s first swimming pool. At the theater, one of America’s oldest continually producing community theatres, she not only helped to build the structure but also sang, danced, acted, sewed costumes and whatever it took for the show to go on.
The family moved to Louisville in 1964 and Sissy joined the Crescent Hill Women’s Club and the Northfield Garden Club. After her youngest daughter graduated from high school in 1972, she earned her realtor’s license and began selling real estate for Helen Miller Realtor (later Rainey, Jones & Associates). This was a job that suited her outgoing personality. She loved learning her buyers’ stories and finding the home that suited them best. When her husband Kenneth retired in 1984 as secretary-treasurer of Churchill Downs, she also retired. In what Sissy described as the best years of her life, she and her husband spent the next 10 years traveling extensively, including extended visits to Hawaii and the Southwest.
Two years after Kenneth’s death in 1995, she moved into a brand-new Dudley Square patio home (part of the Episcopal Church Home). She beautified her corner of that community, much to her neighbors’ delight, and donated benches and yellowwood trees for the greenspace they shared.
On Oct. 28, she became the community’s first resident to reach the age of 100. Before that milestone birthday, she made sure her absentee ballot was in the mail. Born in the year women gained the right to vote, this civic duty was sacred to her and she studied the candidates, reading their biographies before making her selection. In her lifetime, she went from horse and wagon to driving a car to transpacific air travel, from no electricity to computers and chatting with folks on Facebook, which she continued well into her 90s.
Sissy was a religious woman, a believer in Jesus and his teachings of love, acceptance and quiet generosity. She was an early member of the Baskett (KY) Christian Church and in Louisville attended Calvin Presbyterian.
Sissy’s survivors include daughters Carole Daughtrey (David), of New Albany, IN, and Kathy Coyte and Kay Coyte, both of Louisville; grandchildren Mark Allgood (Erica), of Colorado Springs; David Allgood, of King of Prussia, PA; Charlie Boyce, of Los Angeles; Ben Daughtrey (Sally), of New Albany, and Sarah Daughtrey, of Las Cruces, NM, and great-grandchildren Max and Ben Allgood, Genevieve (Ceagan) and Ryan Huff. Also nephew David Coyte and compassionate caregivers, notably Patti Randolph, Toemica Jackson and Jeff Hines. She was also grateful for Hosparus, both its palliative care and hospice teams.
A private service is available for viewing at the Arch L Heady (Westport Village) page on Facebook. A celebration of her life is planned for late 2021. Memorial contributions may be made to Hosparus Health of Kentucky, your local chapter of the League of Women Voters or the charity of your choice.