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Cowboy given military honors on his final ride
One of Kitsap County's finest cowboys took his final ride under a cloudless blue sky on Friday morning.
Samuel Nick Corey, known to many for founding Corey's Day on the Farm, was placed to rest in a special cowboy funeral procession. Corey died on July 2.
Mourners assembled at Miller-Woodlawn cemetery in Bremerton to honor the man known for his love of farm work and revered as a true cowboy to many in the county.
At the funeral, Don Frazier called his friend of 20 years "a man with a heart as big as the outdoors."
Inside, standing next to the American flag-draped casket, Frazier shared memories of the cowboy and former Marine's life.
A cowboy hat sat on the end of the casket; and on the other end, a framed photograph of Corey leaning against an old car sat perched on an easel.
"He never had to work as a nice guy; it was in his nature," Frazier told family and friends. "I was mighty proud to call him a friend."
Snapshots of Corey with his wife, Coleta, and many other family members blinked across a screen, showing 83 years of memories for those in attendance.
Born in Nebraska, Corey always loved hard work. He worked on farms most of his life and when that wasn't enough, he became a Marine. Corey frequented the CO's office so much when he signed on as a Marine that the commanding officer told him to stop coming. So, instead, Corey sent letters everyday asking to be sent off to the Korean War.
Corey never sat still. He loved working and for years he organized an event for special needs children, Corey's Day on the Farm. The event honored the Coreys special needs son, Dan. And, as co-producer of the Thunderbird Pro Rodeo, Corey saw to it that others would pass on his love of traditional rodeo in Kitsap County.
A tribute poem read by Frazier said it all:
I'm sure God has a ranch in Heaven
A place for cowboys to call home
With dusty trails and deep passes
Where cows and horses freely roam
I picture you up on a ledge, gazing at the draws below
Leaning forward with your Thirty X Stetson hat pulled way down low
While Corey's love of ranch life took up much of his passion, it was the woman who he loved the most that made the cowboy's life complete.
Early on, a pretty gal named Coleta caught his eye, and he would bring her bouquets of lilacs. When she asked him to meet her aunt, he told her he couldn't. When asked why, Corey asked his future wife, "Where do you think I've been getting all those lilacs from?" Her aunt's garden had been the endless supply of his affection in the form of bouquets, recalled longtime friend Chrissie Martin.
"They always had a good time, regardless," said Martin of the couple. "If it was a bad day, they made it a good day."
On the day of his funeral, a friend brought a bouquet of lilacs. Prior to the service, Coleta Corey tucked them into her husband's casket.
I can 'bout hear the leather creaking when your gelding switches feet
Your spurs softly jingle in the wind
Your rope's tied on and coiled neat
There is contentment on your face
You're happy, but I can't pretend though I'm glad you've made God's journey, that I can truly comprehend
In my earthly ways I question the reasons God took you away
I guess the timing was exactly right to enter Heaven on that day
In typical cowboy fashion, two horses led the way for the funeral procession to Corey's final resting place. Weeping friends and family followed closely behind, many wearing cowboys hats or boots to honor the man who loved the western lifestyle.
Outside, around 50 guests gathered around to pay their final respects. Marines in full dress uniforms sent up three volleys of shots prior to the presentation of a folded American flag, given to Mrs. Corey on behalf of the United States Marines as a final condolence.
The only comfort I have found that puts my grief to rest is that God only takes the top hands because His crew's the very best
We still cry and we sure miss you and all the things that might have been
But God needed one more cowboy, and He felt you'd fit right in
So He sent down all His ranch hands, an extra horse stood at their side
Then he softly whispered to you,"Saddle up, my friend, let's ride."