Nelsen Williamsburg


Barbara Jean Coalgate

May 2, 1948June 3, 2021

My beloved wife, Barbara “Babsy” Coalgate, was born on May 2, 1948, in Gassoway, West Virginia, and grew up in Clarksburg, West Virginia. She is predeceased by her parents and brother. She had no children. She received a B. S. in biology from a liberal arts college and did graduate work at West Virginia University Medical School. I met her in graduate school and we were immediately attracted to each other. We were married at Trinity Episcopal Church in Morgantown, West Virginia on November 7, 1970. She actually wanted to be married on Halloween (her favorite holiday). Barbara had such a wonderful spirit and was full of life.

While I finished graduate school, Barbara went to work as a research assistant/electron microscopist in the anesthesiology department of West Virginia University. After graduate school, we moved to Washington, D.C, and Barbara went to work for the Department of Interior. After a while, we moved to Denver, Colorado, where we continued to work for the government. Barbara really wasn’t a “westerner” and missed living in the east, so we moved back to Washington. Barbara was an incredibly capable individual who held many jobs including personnel clerk, land law examiner, technical information specialist, and speech writer (she wrote speeches for two Cabinet Secretaries in the Department of Energy). She also, at the end of her career was directing the Office of Personnel in the office of Energy Efficiency. Throughout her career, she was professionally regarded and respected for her talents and ability to work with anyone. She was friends with nearly everyone. Actually, she was friends with everyone. Barbara was the only person I have ever known who could quit a job for ethical reasons, and have flowers and a job offer from another office before she left the building.

Through all her career, she struggled with clinical depression. Because of illness, she retired early, and a couple of years later, I retired and we moved to Williamsburg. From the first time we visited Williamsburg, she had loved the colonial history and environment of the town. By the time we moved to Williamsburg, she had been diagnosed with two potentially fatal illnesses. For the next 16 years she struggled with her illnesses, always with a positive attitude for the most part. She was a fighter. But, in the end, the progression of disease was too much and her struggle was over. We were married for 50 years and 7 months.

She made lots of very good friends here and loved them all with an open heart. Her other loves were our cats, Charles Dickens, Winston and Clementine Churchill, and Sophie. To her, they were her children. She also loved and cared for stray cats when and wherever she could. Barbara was also an avid reader, especially of mysteries.

To honor her memory and love of cats, I am asking you to consider making a donation to an animal shelter (“no-kill” if possible). Thank you.

I have never known a kinder, gentler, and wonderful person.

I shall miss her for the rest of my life.

Jerry L. Coalgate


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Barbara Jean Coalgate

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Jill Raymond

June 8, 2021

Barbara Coalgate--I called her "Mama Coalgate"--was a unique friend to me. She and Jerry and I became a wonderful "trio" who shared coffee stops and animal stories, and tales of our bizarre and difficult growing up years. Barbara survived some of the worst that poverty, ignorance and dysfunction can throw at a child and grew into exactly who she was determined to be. She refused to tolerate anybody she loved being bullied. She refused to tolerate the disadvantaged of the world being bullied. She saw in other species kindred spirits. I am so grateful to have been able to be part of her life. I hope she is at rest. She earned it many times over.