CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - A man described as one of "Chattanooga's best communicators" is being remembered for his many talents and unending generosity. Rev. Eugene Harold (Gene) Coleman died Wednesday at his home at the age of 68. He had been ill in recent months, suffering from a variety of heart ailments.
The founding pastor of the Carpenter's Cowboy Church in 1994, Coleman was a third generation minister in his family. He served the pastorate since his graduation from Zion Bible College of East Providence, RI in 1965 where he also excelled in music. His introduction to professional broadcasting was also started at Zion.
He had served in the Chattanooga area for the past 27 years when he came to pastor the East Ridge Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) while also broadcasting on radio and television. He followed Luther Masingill for three years on WDEF radio, was an afternoon host on WGOW, and hosted the "Coleman and People" nightly talk show on WFLI Channel 53 for almost nine years. He also served as general manager of several radio stations.
He had served as pastoral care provider for the truck drivers at Covenant Transport for the past 17 years. His son Marvin Scott Coleman said, "He was like a chaplain to the truck drivers. He conducted a ministry outreach program for drivers. He was there to help them through their life problems, when no one else was there for them. He produced a monthly audio show for them to listen to, featuring news, interviews and music. He really tried to be an inspiration for them, and they loved him for it."
On his Facebook page, he is being honored and thanked for the many weddings he performed in his career. "He never turned down an opportunity to perform a marriage ceremony," his son said. "So many people didn't have a traditional church to turn to, and my dad was always willing to help. I've seen him perform so many weddings and funerals, that was so important to him."
Bill McCallie, a longtime Chattanooga musician and radio personality, said of Coleman, "It is a great loss to our community of entertainment friends. We will miss his great voice and his wonderful prayers he lifted up for us all at gatherings." Garry Mac, a friend of Coleman's since the 1980s, said, "He could speak so eloquently, and sing so beautifully with that booming voice. We are all so blessed to have known him."
Visitation will be held Saturday from 4-8 p.m. at Lane Funeral Home, South Crest Chapel in Rossville. Marvin Scott Coleman said his father requested "a positive celebration of life," which will be held Sunday at 2:00 p.m. at Carpenter's Cowboy Church, 3616 Rossville Boulevard. "My father told me recently he didn't want a sad funeral service. He loved flowers, loved to laugh, and said that he knew people liked to wear black at funerals, but he hoped they would wear bright colors and celebrate the life he lived."
He is survived by his mother, Hazel Regina Coleman; his children, Kimberly (David) Rumsmoke, Heather Sue Coleman & Tara-Beth Coleman, Gene H. Coleman & Marvin Scott Coleman; step-children, Charity K. Trillet, Jeremy (Patricia) Trillet, Joy E. Trillet, & Amy R. Trillett; brother John A. (Elsie) Coleman; six grandchildren, one great-grandchild, four step-grandchildren, several nieces & nephews.
Rev. Coleman will be laid to rest at Nethkin Hills Cemetery, Elk Garden, West Virginia.