OBITUARY

Albert Wood Coates Jr.

March 16, 1932January 13, 2014

Albert Wood Coates Jr., died Monday, January 13, 2014. A longtime Henrico County resident, Al was born March 16, 1932 in Franklin, Virginia. He was the son of the late Rev. and Mrs. A.W. Coates Sr. (Lillian Matthews Coates); and brother of the late James R. Coates. Al grew up in Drewryville, Alexandria, and Spotsylvania County, Virginia, and graduated from the University of Richmond in 1953. A protege of UR Professor Joe Nettles, he practiced journalism as a reporter for the Daily Press (1953-1957), where he covered mainly Newport News City Hall and local politics, and the Richmond Times-Dispatch (1957-1965), with principal assignments including municipal government, crime and courts. Al's career in Virginia state government began in 1965, when he began serving as Department of Highways Public Information Officer. He served as Special Assistant to the Commissioner (1972-1976 and 1978-1983) and as Management Review Officer (1983-1984). Al became Associate Press Secretary to Governor Mills E. Godwin Jr. (1976-1978) and later served in Governor Charles S. Robb's cabinet as Deputy Secretary of Transportation (1985). He served his state as VDOT Assistant Commissioner for Administration from 1986 until his retirement in March 1996. Al was assigned to numerous special offices during his career, including Chairmanship of the Promotion Committee for Virginia's Bicentennial Spruce Up Campaign (1975-1976), Press Coordinator for the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Virginia, July 1976, and Press Coordinator for America's Victory Celebration at Yorktown (July to October, 1981). He was a member of the Governor's Task Force for the 1983 Summit of Industrialized Nations at Williamsburg, and was a longtime lecturer in press relations for the National Highway and Transportation Management Institute, University of Mississippi. He received many awards for his work such as a Distinguished Service Award from Keep Virginia Beautiful (1976). Al is survived by his beloved wife of nearly 57 years, Roberta Jones Coates; daughters, Debra C. Savage of Halifax, Va.; and Susan C. Childress (Greg); sons, Albert W. Coates III (Barbara) and Timothy A. Coates, all of the Richmond area.His grandchildren, Lillian, Cassidy, Elizabeth, Merryn and Ruby also survive him. Al was the world's greatest dad and granddad. A former longtime church deacon and Sunday School teacher, Al was a kind and caring southern gentleman who is loved and missed by many. A funeral service will be held Friday, January 17, 2014 at 2 p.m. in the Chapel Mausoleum at Westhampton Memorial Park, with entombment to follow. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to your favorite charity.

Services

  • Funeral Service Friday, January 17, 2014
REMEMBERING

Albert Wood Coates Jr.

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Bonita Jones

January 19, 2014

I have many fond memories of Al from the Sunday school class at West Hunt Baptist church back in the 80s. He and Bobbie were such role models for me and my late husband Casey. My sympathy to all of the family. May you find peace & comfort in all of the memories.

Greg Childress

January 19, 2014



Eulogy: When thinking about this life, the words I kept thinking of to describe it best were already written down.  The words that his family use to describe him are the fruits of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  His attributes are also those of 1 Corinthians 13:  patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not arrogant, not rude, not insisting on his own way, not irritable, not resentful, not rejoicing in wrongdoing but rejoicing with the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. His last days were typified by a hopeful suffering:  he was ever hopeful of being with his family, enjoying his normal life again with the family he loved.  He endured suffering with bravery, even humor.  He showed his family how much he loved them throughout his hospital stay, no matter how sick he was.
He was a man of integrity. For me, he was the kind, caring father whose daughter's hand I asked for in marriage. 
He was a humble leader, a wise, thoughtful and considerate source of all sorts of information from historical facts and perspectives, to driving directions (my practical application of his vast VDOT knowledge), to gardening information, to advice about life.  He was the Santa/nutcracker/decoy collector.  The Redskins/Spiders fan.  He was “Granddaddy” to our 3 girls and his other two grandchildren, whose home was a site of movie picnics on a blanket in his floor. 
He was the host of countless dinners at Cracker Barrel, Shoney's, IHOP who never let you pay. He was the tired babysitter at the end of date night.  He was the person always getting the family together to just be family together. 
He was, but he also is, because his life is now somehow fuller with Christ, his new body no longer suffering, now more fully sanctified, although we miss him terribly.  He is the good and faithful servant, granted rest with his heavenly Father.  He will be missed, and always remembered and loved.

Elizabeth Childress

January 18, 2014

My Granddaddy was a great man. He was a strong courageous person. He was a very encouraging man. He was brave and funny. He loved his family so much. I hope God will bless him forever and ever.

Greg Childress

January 18, 2014


Eulogy:

When thinking about this life, the words I kept thinking of to describe it best were already written down.

Greg Childress

January 18, 2014

Eulogy:

When thinking about this life, the words I kept thinking of to describe it best were already written down.

Donna Purcell Mayes

January 18, 2014

Dear Coates family,
I had the privilege of working for and learning from Mr. Coates for many years at VDOT. When I think of him, always with fondness and admiration, these phrases come to mind: High standards; respectful and respected; teacher; quick writer; eloquent writer; fastest two-finger typist; best editor; patient; wise advisor; quiet; family man; true Southern gentleman. Please accept my condolences on his passing.

Mike Perfater

January 17, 2014

Al Coates was a gracious gentleman, superb leader, and a wonderful communicator. He always had time for me and made me feel I was the most important person in our conversation. Al resides at or near the top of the list of my most respected and favorite VDOT colleagues, and is clearly among those who had a major impact on my career. My deepest sympathy to the family.

January 16, 2014

To Woody and family,
Al was the consummate Virginia Gentleman. I was most fortunate to know him as a boss, a colleague, a trusted advisor and friend. Not long after I started to work for VDOT, he became the head of the Management Services Division. While it was a big step out of his role as Public Affairs Director, he never missed a beat. He was well respected and much loved by the staff for his quiet, yet effective, leadership. We also had many opportunities to improve our report and presentation writing skills under his keen editing! And, of course, how can we ever forget those cigars!
We were blessed to know him. I can only imagine what a loving father he was. His family was always his first priority. May the beautiful and loving memories of your Dad carry you through these difficult days.
With deepest sympathies, Connie Sprouse Sorrell

Vaughan Kirby

January 16, 2014

Sorry for your lost. I remember him well.

Tim Kirby

January 15, 2014

My condolences to the family. I have good memories of a gentle man.