LARGO — Ann Killian Coyle was stunning, and she let everyone know.
Isn't my hair stunning? Aren't my outfits stunning? Look at my stunning car!
She was a first-class showoff with exquisite taste and a bulging closet. She taught the women in her family that lipstick was as important as a driver's license. She taught the men in her family to worship their women.
She taught her daughter-in-law to look past limitations.
"I was just a country girl when I met my husband," said Marilyn Killian, who, in her mother-in-law's image, has 200 tubes of lipstick. "I could not believe that a woman could run a business and write checks and wear the pants in the family. Literally."
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Mrs. Killian Coyle owned Tande Beauty Salon in Pass-a-Grille in the 1960s and '70s. She catered to wealthy women on the beach. She'd drive her station wagon, the shop's name painted on the side, to pick up customers at the local luxury resort.
She served food and wine at a time before it was expected in salons. She offered electrolysis treatments. Her hair dryers and curling irons were state of the art. She had a champagne fountain.
At work and after, she dressed perfectly. Her clothes came from Lillie Rubin stores and fancy beach boutiques where she didn't hesitate to drop a dollar.
Once, she bought a $200 hat by designer Lilly Dasche in New York. The white pith helmet sat on a shelf in her closet.
"It was the hat that you never touched," said Killian, 60. "If you put it on your head, you'd say it's the worst-looking hat I've ever seen in my life."
For 47 years, she was married to John Killian, with whom she grew up in New York. They had three sons. After John died, she married Eddie Coyle, her first husband's friend from the country club where they played golf. He died six years ago.
They both adored her.
"She almost had a life that other people would envy," Killian said. "How many people get to marry two loves?"
She was no domestic goddess. She liked working and playing cards with girlfriends. She didn't cook. When she ate at restaurants, she'd send her dinner rolls back to the kitchen — she liked the tops extra toasty.
At the salon where she got her hair done, only one stylist was allowed to touch her head. Her reason?
He loved his mother.
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In December, she vacationed with her family at the Gaylord Palms resort in Orlando. They saw the hotel's ice sculpture display, ate dinner, laughed. On New Year's Eve, as the family prepared to go out, Mrs. Killian Coyle had a seizure. Brain scans revealed cancer.
Each morning, she woke at 5 a.m. for radiation. Her family and nurses cared for her in her Largo golf course condo. She spent the days watching Fox News. When she grew tired of politics, she'd turn on WDUV-FM 105.5 for soft music.
Mrs. Killian Coyle, always outspoken and fiery, lost her ability to speak. She peacefully accepted what was coming. She died Monday at age 88.
She was wearing a brand-new nightgown. Her hair, though thin, was combed.
She had her lips on.
Stephanie Hayes can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8857.