Paul Edward Coakley Sr.

August 8, 1953July 18, 2021
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Paul Edward Coakley was born on August 8, 1953 at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. Always an early riser, it’s not surprising that he arrived 2 months early, earning him an admission to the Neonatal ICU.

He spent his early childhood in Detroit, with his mother Alvilda Fisher, his father Paul Coakley and his 7 older siblings, Bobby, Alma Catherine, Mae Frances, Gwendolyn, Elma Dean, James, and Paula. He later found himself as an older brother, for the first time, to a younger sister Wanda. Around the age of 9, he moved to Gallatin, Tennessee to live with his aunt Irene Coakley, uncle Joseph Coakley and younger sister Deborah. He graduated from Gallatin High School in 1971, shortly after his school was integrated. Unsurprisingly, he was voted the “friendliest student” by his fellow seniors. He obtained his associated degree from Volunteer State Community College and both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Middle Tennessee State University. After college, he first started working as an English teacher at Holloway High School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

In 1973, he married the love of his life, Carlus, in Gallatin, Tennessee. In 1976, Paul and Carlus welcomed their oldest son, Paul Coakley Jr. In 1980, Paul moved his family from Murfreesboro, Tennessee to Portland, Oregon and, the very next year, their youngest son Brian was born. Shortly after arriving in Oregon, Paul and Carlus were warmly welcomed into the congregation at Mount Olivet Baptist Church. During the next 41 years, he served at Mount Olivet as an usher, a deacon, a life group leader and as the fellowship ministry director. Most recently, he was serving as a teacher for weekly Bible-study classes.

As an educator, Paul dedicated his life to the teaching and mentoring of young people. After working for several years as a teacher at Harriet Tubman Middle School, he was later promoted to Vice Principal and later Principal. After ten years as the principal there, he later worked as the principal of Roosevelt High School and, later, Gresham High School before retiring in 2002. As a school leader with a heart for kids and a passion for his community, he touch the lives of many and left a legacy of academic excellence, high expectation and achievement. Despite retiring, he continued to work over the next two decades as both an on-call substitute principal as well as a mentor for the next generation of school administrators in the Portland area.

Paul loved God. He loved his family. He loved people. He simply loved life. The conversations that he had with those around him varied from figuring out the best movie on Netflix, to concocting the best trade that his beloved Trailblazers could make, to swapping restaurant recommendations, to comforting those who were sick or grieving, to everything else in between. He just loved speaking to people and getting to know their story, regardless of who they were or how they came into his life. To see him encourage a random young person to “keep working hard in school” or tapping the shoulder of a stranger in a restaurant to say that he was “being a good father to his kids” was not at all uncommon. Selflessness was not an attribute of his, it was his absolute essence.

His smile was heart warming, his laughter was infectious and his voice was booming. The only thing larger than his heart was his personality. He gave his time, wisdom, effort and energy to others with every chance he had. He never stopped giving to others and his career in education ensures that his legacy will keep giving for decades to come.

He is survived by his loving wife, Carlus; his sons Paul Jr and Brian; his daughter-in-law Shema; and his six beautiful grandchildren Azaria, Paulie, Mia, Samia, Kian, and Zara. He is also survived by his extended family, his family at Mount Olivet Baptist Church and the entire Portland community, of which he was so proud to be a member.

You are able to attend service in person or watch online at:


  • Visitation

    Saturday, July 24, 2021

  • Funeral Service

    Saturday, July 24, 2021

  • Committal Service

    Sunday, July 25, 2021


Paul Edward Coakley Sr.

have a memory or condolence to add?

Judy London

July 27, 2021

I was Paul's secretary when he was principal at Roosevelt High School. What a beautiful man to work beside. His compassion, humor, integrity, fairness, work ethic, love, and many more qualities too numerous to put into words, were much appreciated by the students and staff. He was a joy! I always look forward to arriving at work and seeing his smile. Of the 8 principals I worked with while with PPS, Paul was at the top!

Nicole Spiegel (Morris)

July 26, 2021

I met Mr. Coakley when I attended Harriet Tubman Middle School. His vision, leadership, compassion and exuberance for life were tremendous. He touched so many lives. My years at Tubman changed my life and I am a better woman for having graduated as a Star Contender.
To the Coakley family, thank you for sharing your father with so many. I can still hear him in the hallways, firm but kind and an infectious laugh. He will be missed.
Nicole Morris (Spiegel)

Thomas Harper

July 26, 2021

Mr.Coakley Will be missed i first experienced him at Harriet Tubman Middle School and he was a definite leader always was kind to others professional

Cindy Key Rouch

July 25, 2021

I was a classmate of Paul's in the GHS Class of '71. My heart is truly broken at the loss of this good man. I have fond memories of Paul at school but also when he worked at H.G. Hills grocery store. Oh my goodness! That wonderful smile! My husband and I were in Portland a few years ago and I thought about contacting Paul. I wish I had done it. I was looking forward to seeing Paul at our high school reunion in October. Please accept my condolences for your loss. I wish your family love, peace and comfort in the days ahead. RIP Paul.

Erikia Rea-Kirk

July 25, 2021

To the coakley family my deepest love and condolences and prayers to you all. Mr coakley was a real deep influence on my life and the life of others of his students. Always something nice and meaningful to share say and teach to us all. Mr coakley you are truly loved and missed until we meet again.
Erikia Rea-kirk aka Erikia Thompkins.

Andrew Turner

July 25, 2021

Carlus, PJ, Brian and the rest of the Coakley family , We are so sadden and share your loss. I remember those early days in Detroit on Vernon Hwy. We as Cousins were already connected, and grew only closer. Quite often mentioned was his infectious Smile and how it will be etched in our memory.
I remember helping him load the u-Hall truck for the long drive to Oregon.
He will be sorely missed.

Love you all,

Andrew & Frances Turner
Gallatin, Tn.

Carol Guerra

July 25, 2021

My condolences to the Coakley family , as a child I would here this man name all over town , people spoke great words about him . Didn’t know I lived 4 houses down front him . But he was always on the go doing good things as I know . And come to find out, he married my first cousin . Family you are in my prayers as always and continue to look to God when times get hard , God reminded us that he was with us . Kisses and love all the way from Gallatin Tennessee……. Carol Ann Alexander (Guerra)

Cathy Rossman

July 25, 2021

I was heartbroken to hear about Paul! I worked at Vernon where he was the Substitute Principal many times. Paul would daily come to my classroom and meet every student and tell them to have the best day ever. Paul made every child feel special in my classroom. Paul touched me and the kids at Vernon with his kindness and infectious laugh. With being at Vernon I also had the privilege to teach with Carlus for many years. I’m so sorry for your loss Carlus and I’m thinking of you and your family. It was a privilege to know Paul💔

Cathy Rossman

Connie Schwendemann

July 25, 2021

I will miss my friend, Paul Coakley, very much. I've been the Principal's Secretary at Vernon School since 2008 and had the pleasure of working with Carlus before her retirement.
Paul has been a frequent Administrator Sub at Vernon over the years, and through this time we became friends.

Mr. Coakley arrived at work on time, impeccably dressed, and ready to go. The day always began with greetings, a big hug, and lots of smiles. He liked to have his office open, lights on, walkie-talkie charged, with a staff phone list, school map, names/locations of substitute teachers in the building that day, and any activities that were planned (field trips, drills, etc.) on his desk.
After the 9 o'clock bell rang, Paul began what's called MBWA (Management By Walking Around). During lunch, there would be a few minutes to catch up on family news. We also have two grown sons, so it was fun sharing stories. I got to know his family through those stories, and realized how proud he was, and how much he loved, his family.
One other fun thing we enjoyed sharing were lots of old time sayings and words of wisdom we both knew - his from Tennessee and mine from my Mother. Examples: "You're as handy as a pocket in a shirt," "If I felt any better, I'd be two people," and "I want it so quiet, you can hear a mouse walking' on cotton." And so many more!

Paul and Carlus frequently attended many Vernon events, such as the 111th anniversary celebration in 2018, the annual Crafters' Fair in December, and the PTA annual dinners.

Paul will live on in all our hearts and memories!

Samuel H Jr & Linda A Jackson

July 24, 2021

We have such great memories of Paul in Gallatin, Tennessee, as well as Murfreesboro, Tennessee. His genuine personality, infectious smile and work ethic are forever in our memory. During this time of bereavement, we offer our sincere condolences to the family and pray that you find strength and comfort today and always.

Samuel H. Jackson, Jr. & Linda A. Jackson
Murfreesboro, Tennessee


Paul loves traveling to faraway places.


These look-alikes talked every morning and several times a day.


Visting a sister city middle school in Japan.


Hanging with the boys was a daily ritual.


Three generations of Paul Coakleys.


Mt. Olivet fellowship cookout.


Grandfather and Granddaughter together at the Mt. Olivet Men's Breakfast.


Fisher Family Reunion 2019


Holding his 1st grandson