The brilliant light of love, courage and strength that is Colette Elise Ervin has been taken from us. Colette’s long battle is over, though she fought with the heart of a lion and endured more than should ever be expected of a human being, she finally succumbed to her illness July 23, 2019.
To the end, Colette fought and endured for her family, the same as she has always done. To the end, she remained committed to caring for her family, ignoring her own dire condition, to provide the love and support her family needed, the same as she has always done. For those of us who love her the loss is great, the pain deep and the darkness frightening. We feel her in our hearts now, we know nothing is over and our Colette will be with us always. She is now free of the pain of dying and free to live in our hearts forever.
Colette was born June 15, 1967, in Palo Alto, Calif., the first child of David and Daphne Patton. Colette was raised in California and completed high school at Desert Winds High School, Lancaster, Calif., in 1985. She went to work as a civilian employee of the U.S. Air Force where she was involved in several sensitive Air Force developmental projects including work with the famous “Skunkworks” group. She achieved Top Secret clearance during her years of work with the Air Force.
While in service, Colette met Airman Mike Pristow. They courted, married and brought their daughter, Devyn Jean Ann Pristow into the world. Colette continued to work for the Air Force until 1994 when she moved to the Black Hills of South Dakota. The Black Hills would never be the same.
Colette worked a number of jobs during her time in Custer, S.D. She will be most fondly remembered by those to whom she served liquid refreshment during her years as a bartender. Colette tended to the lost, drunk and lonely and laid waste to the rude, obnoxious and belligerent. Many may recall the withering glare that could reduce a bully to a blubbering mess. Friend and foe respected Colette and no one wanted to get sideways with that woman, as it could make for a very bad day. Many more will recall the times they were taken home safely by a person who cares about them, friend or not. Colette was always that person. Though she relished in her tough-gal persona, it is her human decency that spoke most loudly about her. Colette gave so much of herself to benefit her family and friends.
In time, Colette’s sister Cynthia and Cynthia’s daughter, Jessica, came to live with Colette. In January 2000 Cynthia’s son, Jeffrey, was born in Custer and joined the family. Colette worked hard to provide a home, food on the table, guidance and love for her family. As is her way, the odds seemed always stacked against them, yet time after time Colette would overcome whatever obstacle that was thrust in front of them. By any measure, Colette provided a home filled with love and her family basked in her warmth. Colette was happy, they had a home, food, clothing, a growing family and a house full of love. Things were looking up, and then in August of 2000, Colette crossed trails with a hard case.
When Colette Elise Pristow met Brian Thomas Ervin she had neither time, nor interest in such a man. She said so in no uncertain terms. But, a guy said to himself, “There’s something about this gal.” Brian’s doggedness outlasted Colette’s stubbornness and The Date was arranged. Voted No. 1 on the Cosmo list of worst dates of 2000 (not confirmed), The Date has achieved legendary status as a model of what not to do on your first date. People have studied the event with a combination of awe and fear. Afterward, they couldn’t stand each other so much that they couldn’t stay apart from one another. With a start like that what else was there to do except fall in love and get married. Colette and Brian were married Sept. 8, 2002, thus beginning their great adventure together.
When Colette and Brian began life together, their children became part of the family. First came Elek then Devyn and Justin and later Zoe. All of them have lived in Custer at various times and all of them have shared the love, wisdom and guidance that Colette gave to them. Her family continued to grow, not bounded by blood, but by love.
Colette gave respite to family, friends, strangers and misfits in her home. The sounds of company, of conversation, of laughter often filled the house and any day could be a good day for a cookout. From camping trips and road trips, to fishing and wild flower cruises, through family craft projects and Christmas tree hunting; Colette was always the driving force, moving the next family thing forward. Through thick times and thin, Colette remained kind and generous. Some folks don’t measure wealth in terms of dollars. It is those folks who can easily see the fantastic wealth borne in Colette’s heart of Gold. What Colette was able to give her family, you can’t find at Walmart.
Summarizing the life of an amazing woman is often a difficult task. With Colette Elise Ervin it is simple enough to say she is the best. The best wife, mother, sister, daughter, aunt, friend, companion, confidant and partner, any family could hope to embrace. The best thing that ever happened to a hard case. It has truly been an honor and a privilege for this family to have shared our lives with Colette. The memories made, the lessons learned, the laughter, the hugs and kisses will be missed by us all. Colette will never leave us though, for we are her legacy. Our family will carry Colette with us and stories of her will pass to following generations, ensuring her legacy. From all of us, to you our most wonderful Honey Bunny, We Love You. Forever.
A celebration of Colette’s life will be held at the Gold Pan Saloon Aug. 16, 2019, from 6-9 p.m. Colette would like to buy her friends and family a drink for the road.
Anyone who wishes to, may bring a bouquet of wildflowers to the celebration (in water please). Anyone who wishes to share memories of Colette will be welcomed to address the gathering. Any monetary donations will be placed in a memorial in Colette’s name.