The community of Polson — and well beyond — grieves the loss of Dr. Earl Coriell on Saturday, February 12, 2022. Ninety-seven years was not long enough for those who knew this incredible individual. Earl wore the hat as a husband, father, grandpa, great-grandpa, doctor, and dear friend to many.
Born on a farm in Stanford, Montana, to Lewis Alfonso Coriell and Effie M. Lemon on April 4, 1924, Earl was the youngest of five children. He began his undergrad education at the University of Montana before joining the United States Navy V-12 program in 1944. He was on active duty serving in the Korean War as a Lieutenant until 1952. He finished his Naval reserve duties in 1956.
While in the Navy, Earl completed his studies at the University of Washington. He earned his medical degree at the University of Kansas from 1946 to 1949. After a year of visiting his parents in Ohio, Earl set out to find a place to practice. With roots in Montana, when he saw Polson in 1953, he knew it was where he wanted to live and practice medicine. He spent his life as an old-style country doctor, working 24/7 doing surgeries, delivering babies, office visits, and house calls. To his last days, he never lost his passion for medicine.
Earl married Grace Hickman in 1948, with divorce following a decade later. On July 30, 1966, he and Betty Ardell wed and made the most of their 56 years together. They welcomed family and friends to their home on Flathead Lake and enjoyed a lively social life. Earl loved skiing, fishing, and hunting, and was always game for a concert on Big Mountain or University of Montana football game, Go Griz!
Traveling was also a passion, and he particularly loved Australia, South Africa, and Belize. Over the years, Betty and Earl fell in love with a few schnauzers and enjoyed feeding them table scraps at the dinner table and swimming in Flathead Lake.
Earl was also passionate about a well-manicured yard, including mowing the lawn on a steep hill that led to the dock, where you could also find him enjoying a cocktail with family in the sun on a boat. There was also no pie crust that was safe in his presence, for he was known for one to eat all the crust before ever consuming an actual piece of the pie. Following a stroke in early January, Earl accepted Jesus into his heart, providing so much comfort to the family, knowing they will all be reunited one day.
His career and civic-minded nature coincided with the multiple organizations that benefited from his time and expertise. Earl served as the mayor of Polson from 1960 to 1964 and held leadership positions in the Elks Club, Rotary Club, and the Junior Chamber of Congress. He was also President of the American Heart Association for over eight years. He served as Trustee Emeritus for the Coriell Institute for Medical Research, created by his brother, Dr. Lewis L. Coriell.
Earl established the Polson Family Medical Clinic in 1953 and served there as a trusted and much-loved physician until his retirement at age 82 in 2006. Stories can fill a book on the people he helped throughout his career. Even beyond retirement, those around him valued his deep well of knowledge and expertise. His superpower was that he could diagnose anyone with a few questions and palpations.
Earl is preceded in death by his parents and his siblings Myrtle, Lewis, Viola, Judith, and his daughters Marilyn Beck Weingart and Janet Lynn Coriell Womack. He is survived by his beloved wife Betty; and their children, Karen Beck Vergeront (Chip), Rita Coriell Chase, Steve Beck (Sharon), Randy Coriell (Olivia), and Brian Beck, as well as many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Memorial services for Earl will be held on Saturday, March 5, 2022 at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church at 11:00 A.M. In lieu of flowers, please memorialize our father with a donation to the Coriell Institute for Medical Research. The institute was founded by Earl’s brother Lewis.