Ned S. Coates

After fighting a courageous battle with leukemia, Ned Stuart (“Blaze”) Coates of Cogan Station crossed over from this world to the next on Sunday, Jan. 6, at his home, surrounded by his loving family.

Born in Bloomsburg, PA on June 6, 1940, he was a son of the late Charles E. and Beryle (Melick) Coates. In addition to his parents, Ned was predeceased by a brother, Rev. Charley W. Coates.

Note: Anyone who knew Ned will not be surprised to learn that he wrote this obituary himself.

Ned is survived by his wife Gayle Peters-Coates, the love of his life for over 25 years, by his son Andrew Kittredge Peters II (Drew) and his Life Partner Loah Martinez, his daughter Julia (Peters) DeSisto, son-in-law Joseph DeSisto, and grandson Andrew DeSisto. Also surviving are his sister Carol Owen of Reading, nephews and nieces Ben Coates, Kirk Coates, Heather Allegar, Claudia Perry, Pamela Gregg, Beverly Schmittberger, and Jenni Franks, and numerous great nieces and great nephews. Ned was always proud of the diversity of his extended family, which included accomplished athletes, coaches, scholars, health care professionals, social workers, counselors, teachers, musicians, artists, honest government employees, justice advocates, dedicated parents, and colorful characters of all hues.

Ned was educated in Bloomsburg public schools and Susquehanna University, where he earned a B.A. in English. He taught at Hughesville High School, then earned a Master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Arkansas, leading to a forty-year career at the Pennsylvania College of Technology (formerly WACC), where he earned a Master Teacher Award. Ned taught speech, composition, and literature in the Department of Communications, Language and Literature. He also created and taught two elective courses in American Indian studies, and taught non-credit courses in canoeing, basic survival skills, and cross-country skiing.

Ned was an active member of St. Luke Lutheran Church, Williamsport, where he served on several committees. He also served on the Environmental Task Force of the Upper Susquehanna Synod of the Lutheran Church, the Social Concerns Committee of the United Churches of Lycoming County, the Diversity Committee of the Williamsport Area School District, and was a tutor/mentor through the program established by the First United Methodist Church of Williamsport. Additionally, he served on boards of the J.V. Brown Library and the West Branch School.

Ned was a founding member of the Williamsport Running Club, the Eddie Roberts Boosters Association, and the Tommy McDonnell Fan Club. In addition, he was a founding partner of two local businesses, Ye Old Cycle Barn in Hughesville, and Lifetime Deliverance Sports in Williamsport.

During their 25 years together, Ned and Gayle shared many fun and exciting adventures, such as trips to exotic places like Seventy-Six and Mountain View, Arkansas (the Northcentral part of Arkansas with its folk music and beauty were part of him, as were the hills and streams of Northcentral PA). They also traveled to gatherings with Akwesasne Mohawk friends, zip-lined above a Mexican jungle, and helped hurricane victims in a huge Red Cross evacuee shelter. They enjoyed venturing in the home area, too, where Ned was proud to be known as a “Fairly Reliable Guide,” who led friends and family on hikes off the beaten path, in which no one was ever lost for long.

Ned maintained involvement in athletics and outdoor recreation throughout his life. He took pride in being one of the Bloomsburg Panthers who upset Berwick 13-0 on Thanksgiving of 1957. Ned loved the outdoors, was at home in the woods, in a canoe, or wading in a mountain stream. He enjoyed hiking and biking with Gayle, Drew, son-in-law Joe, and friends Bob, Dan, and Phil on the Pine Creek Rail-to-Trail.

Ned wants to give sincere thanks to the overseers, staff workers and volunteers who have made the Water Authority lands and Rider Park safe from fracking and available for hiking, running, and biking.

Ned lettered in football at Susquehanna University. As a runner he took several age group awards and completed at least 20 marathons. He received some publicity for his almost-annual solo canoe trips from Williamsport to Northumberland and then upstream to Bloomsburg in the course of a day, a distance of about 64 miles. Although never considering himself a top athletic star, he did attain, in his mind, world-class status as a competitive bumper car driver at Knoebel’s Groves.

As avid advocates of the environment, Ned and Gayle have supported over a dozen pro-environmental organizations and American Indian charities and causes. Both have given talks to area organizations on Native issues such as their opposition to the use of Native American logos and mascots for athletic teams, against the intrusion of the gas industry, and have spoken out in public hearings against fracking. Ned and Gayle were long-time participants in the Sacred Circle workshop of the Mohawk-based Tree of Peace Society.

Ned wrote poems for Gayle, as well as short stories and plays for family and friends. He was a member of an Irish book club and enjoyed Irish literature, poetry, and his Eagles football group. He was a frequent “featured” performer at “tributes” (roasts) of friends and relatives on special occasions. He loved his family, and sharing mirth with friends. Musically (?), Ned performed on the harmonica with his brother’s under-practiced and unpaid folk music aggravation, Shifty’s Irish Band. He was a proponent of boron supplements and once had an extensive collection of S&H Green Stamps.

In lieu of flowers, Ned asked that contributions in his name be made to The Shepherd of the Streets, Williamsport, or the James V. Brown Library, Williamsport, or the Akwesasne Freedom School, Box 290, Rooseveltown, NY 13683, or the Community Arts Center, Williamsport, or to an environmental or humane charity of your choice.

The family would like to add here that we believe that in his life, Ned has more than fulfilled his goal to “Leave the Earth a little better than I found it.”

A service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 19th at St. Luke Lutheran Church. Burial will be at the convenience of the family.

Also, a “Celebration of His Life” get-together will be announced at a later date.