Wilbert Emery "Bill" Coon

November 28, 1927February 27, 2012

Wilbert “Bill” Emery Coon, 84, of Leawood, KS, passed away peacefully on Feb. 27, 2012, at home. Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Mar. 3, at Cure of Ars, 9401 Mission Rd., Leawood. Rosary at 6 p.m. and visitation until 8 on Friday, Mar. 2, at McGilley State Line Chapel. Bill was born Nov. 28, 1927, on a farm near St. Marys KS the firstborn son of John and Marie (Brunin) Coon. Growing up, he learned the meaning of hard work. Days began with early farm chores, serving Mass as an altar boy then on to school. After school there were more chores, and he added jobs including cutting firewood, delivering newspapers, “soda jerking” at the local drugstore, harvesting potatoes and working on the railroad. He excelled in sports, especially on the high school basketball and baseball teams. He attended Creighton University before being drafted into the Army as a medical corpsman in WWII. After the war he returned to Creighton and earned a degree in journalism. Upon graduation, Bill went to Greenley, CO, to work at a radio station. As a member of the Naval Reserve he was called back to service in the Korean War, this time as a reporter and photographer for Stars and Stripes. When the war ended, Bill went to work as a reporter for the Kansas City Star. In 1952, he joined the The Packer as an ad salesman, retiring 43 years later as Vice President and Publishing Director for Vance Publishing, produce division. He was well-known and received many honors for his passion and commitment to the industry. Bill volunteered after retirement at Harvesters, a food bank, utilizing his contacts in the produce industry to significantly boost contributions of fresh fruit and vegetables. Harvesters named him The Outstanding Volunteer of 1997. He also volunteered with the University of Kansas as a trustee for the journalism school. Bill was a loving husband, father and grandfather as well as an avid tennis player who will be remembered for his love of life, generous heart, and strength of character. He was preceded in death by his parents and brothers Francis, Lawrence, Jere, and Joseph. He is survived by his beloved wife of 55 years, Mary Therese O’Neill: sons Daniel (Muriel), Joseph and William Coon, daughter Tracy (John) Nohe; brother John (Janet) Coon; grandchildren Trevor (Meg), Spencer and Philip Nohe and Hugo Coon. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Harvesters, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or the Parkinson’s Foundation. Condolences may be left online at


  • Rosary Friday, March 2, 2012
  • Visitation Friday, March 2, 2012
  • Mass of Christian Burial Saturday, March 3, 2012

Wilbert Emery "Bill" Coon

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Jim Carr

March 11, 2012

Bill Coon was a man of principle, a gentleman in every sense of the word, and a strong competitor. I fondly remember his kindness and humor. Everyone at Blue Book Services extends to his family and friends our sincere condolences.

Jim Carr
President, Blue Book Services, Inc.

Joe Garcia

March 6, 2012

My sincere condolences to the family. I don't think I've ever met anyone with more passion for the produce industry. Bill's son, Dan, worked with me at Dole in the early 80's. (You still in France, Dan?)

Shelley Thompson

March 4, 2012

Mr. Coon was One of the kindest men I've ever had the pleasure to work with. I still work for Vance Publishing but was with them less than a year when he and Mary came to Lawrence, KS for my wedding. He has always had a special place in my heart for that. This world will surely miss a man of his great character!

Paul Stevens

March 2, 2012

Bill was a wonderful, caring man and I'm so sorry he has left us. We worked closely together on the William Allen White Foundation at the University of Kansas. He brought so much business acumen and knowledge to the table. And he did it with his great sense of humor. He and his family are in my prayers.

Greg Johnson

March 2, 2012

The Packer is grateful for Bill's career here. Please see our story on his work and comments from produce industry peers.

Noreen Zahner

March 2, 2012

Bill was one of the nicest gentleman I have had the pleasure of meeting. In my first years at Harvesters I was lucky enough to work with Bill as he helped us develop and build our produce program. He was generous with his knowledge and a kind and supportive colleague. The pictures on line are a lovely testimonian of his life, he will be missed!


March 2, 2012

I am grateful for the life of Mr. Coon. Thanks to his service and to the service of others in our armed forces, my family and I have been able to lead our lives in freedom and peace.

Monte Mace

March 1, 2012

Bill was a great leader, innovator and encourager during his days at The Packer and Vance Publishing. He helped me immensely at several points in my career. Bill was one of the most decent men I have ever known and one of the most creative in coming up with new publishing products. There will never be another like him. I wish Mary peace.

Tom Karst

March 1, 2012

Bill was a great encourager and so positive. I appreciated his interest and affirmation that he expressed over the years. A great man!
Tom Karst