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Published: Thursday, 5/15/2008

Hillsdale Co. leader owned Dairy Dream

READING, Mich. - Coleen J. Watson, 75, a school secretary and ice cream shop co-owner who had been a Hillsdale County commissioner and Reading City councilman, died Sunday in the Hillsdale County Medical Care Facility, where she lived since June.

She had pneumonia and congestive heart failure, complications of a series of strokes that began in September, her daughter, Vallory Lynn Bunday, said.

She died on Mother's Day, a holiday she felt was very important, her daughter said.

"She was a good mother, and my father loved her very much. They had a wonderful relationship," their daughter said. "They loved their children, and we always made a big deal out of Mother's Day."

Mrs. Watson and her husband, David, owned Dave's Dairy Dream, an ice cream shop in Reading, in the 1960s and '70s. She ran the ice cream business while her husband worked at Addison Products.

Most years, the business was open from late March into October. Mrs. Watson worked there in the day; came home for the family dinner, and returned to close.

"They were just very hard-working people, and they wanted my brother and I to have work ethic," their daughter said. "They felt having a business would teach us work ethic - and they would know where we were."

Before they opened the business, Mrs. Watson was a secretary in the Reading Community Schools. She was a former member of Reading City Council and a former Hillsdale County commissioner, her daughter said. Mrs. Watson was a Republican.

"She believed in her community, and she believed in supporting what she believed in," her daughter said.

Her father, Isaac "Art" Gibler, was a member of the Hillsdale County Fair Board, as she later would be. So when she was about to marry Mr. Watson, it was suggested that the ceremony be held in conjunction with the county fair's centennial.

Stagecoaches were brought in from Greenfield Village, her daughter said, and the bride's hoop dress was in the style of 1850, with 14 tiers of satin eyelet. Her husband was supposed to come down the track on a white steed. He wisely chose to walk alongside, their daughter said.

"The grandstands were full. They had thousands of people there," her daughter said of the ceremony on Sept. 16, 1950.

Mrs. Watson was a 1950 graduate of Reading High School and a member of Reading United Methodist Church and the United Methodist Women. Her husband died Oct. 3, 1983.

Surviving are her daughter, Vallory Lynn Bunday; son, David A. Watson; sisters, Rita Wilson and Marilyn Crawford; four grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in the George White Funeral Home, Reading, where visitation will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday. The family suggests tributes to the Hillsdale County Humane Society or Hospice of Hillsdale County.

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