Theodore Coleman

Obituary of Theodore Roosevelt Coleman

Mr. Theodore (Bobby/Ted) Roosevelt Coleman, son of the late John Baptist Coleman and Eliza Jane (Boyd) Coleman was born August 23, 1933, in Salisbury, North Carolina. He was a life long civil rights advocate, political enthusiast, and sports fanatic. A member of the Greater Apostolic Church of Christ in Zanesville, Ohio and later the St. Stephens A.M.E. Church in Essex, MD, he was a man of God. Obeying God's call, he entered his heavenly home on Thursday, September 9, 2021. "Readin', writin' and rithmatic'."- "What else do you need to know?" -Hattie Coleman, Grandmother It was easy to recognize the era in which you came to know Mr. Coleman. To friends and family from Salisbury or those with whom he became friends as part of his beloved J.C. Price High School Alumni Association, he was 'Bobby.' To everyone else he was Ted and during the final months of his life he preferred Theodore. He often talked about his grandmother, Hattie Reid Coleman, known as 'Big Mama,' who was the only one who called him Roosevelt. He always asked lots of questions about her childhood, fascinated with her memory late into her 103 years, particularly her answer to the question about what she was taught when she was a little girl. She responded with the first sentence above, but her grandson pumping for more information, asked, "Is that all?" She was definitive in her reply. "Practice perfection. The mistakes will come on their own." -Theodore R. Coleman By whatever name you knew Mr. Coleman you recognized him as a man who sought to live a principled and disciplined life. The quote above is one that was heard often if you had the honor of growing up or spending time with him. It was this attitude that would serve him well throughout his life, particularly during his 4-year career in the U.S. Navy. Following his honorable discharge in 1956 he moved to Ohio, where he would spend close to 50 years before moving to Baltimore, MD. It was in Ohio where he met and would later marry his late wife Perryjean (Hollins) Coleman on September 3, 1959. Mr. Coleman was a life-long learner. He often joked about having only a 3rd grade education, but his pursuit of knowledge was an ingrained habit. It was likely one embedded during his years at the now historic, Joseph Charles (J.C.) Price High School in Salisbury, NC, where he did indeed, earn his high school diploma in 1952. A Price H.S. Hall of Fame athlete, Mr. Coleman was known for his speed and quickness on the basketball court. He would chuckle with mention of his nickname "Dog," which he claimed to not particularly care for. Nothing, however, would give him more distain than having to repeat the 3rd grade for "reading too many comic books" according to the note sent home to his parents at the end of the school year. Being held back didn't seem to cause him much embarrassment at all. The issue for him was having to hear the teasing from his sister Luvenia, who would now be his classmate for the rest of their primary and secondary school careers! He said that he once thought about dropping out of school but was quickly deterred by Mr. John's (his father) response to the idea. "If you drop out of school, where you gonna live." Case closed. "If there is no struggle, there is no progress." -Frederick Douglass Mr. Coleman continued his Federal service as an Industrial Engineering Technician with the Department of Defense at the Newark Air Force Station in Heath, Ohio, retiring after 35 years of service. During his long and distinguished career, he received an impressive list of certifications, commendations, and honors. From public service to community service, he believed that struggle was a requirement for progress, often quoting American abolitionist and social reformer, Frederick Douglass. And surely at some point you would hear in response to a greeting: "How are you doing today?" his reply: "I'm still in the struggle." Mr. Coleman's struggles yielded a great deal of hard work in the community, spending decades involved in political advocacy and civil rights on behalf of African Americans. In every organization in which he was a member, he would eventually hold a leadership role, often at the state or regional level. Those organizations included the Zanesville Civic League, Improved Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks of the World, American Legion, NAACP, Head Start, National Association of Retired Federal Employees, and Toastmasters International. With his struggles in school having come full circle, his extraordinary devotion to the J.C. Price High School Alumni Association was notable. Continuing still today to provide scholarships to high school students nationwide; in 2008 Mr. Coleman would serve two terms as their National President. "Choices not Limitations" -Pedro Brito It was the phrase above that convinced Mr. Coleman to move to Baltimore after the passing of his wife. The discussion with his daughter was that it would be best to move while he had an opportunity to become part of a new community, meet new friends, and re-engage with his hobbies and organizations. Nothing, however, would carry more weight than the chance to be part of his grandson William's life. Mr. Coleman could be heard using any one of the following nicknames for William, including "Hawk", "Little Willie", or "Golden Hawk." Most recently William received a promotion to "Rev Golden Hawk," as he became a strong source of inspiration and hope for Mr. Coleman, particularly when his health began to fail. Prior to that time, however, Mr. Coleman did find his new community in Maryland. He joined the St. Stephens A.M.E. Church in Essex, MD, continued to fulfill his insatiable quest for knowledge. He was an ever-ready source of information. Attending as many of his grandson's basketball games as possible, he carried a 60-year-old copy of "The Rules of Basketball" in his pocket to every game "just in case" (another favorite phrase of his). At any official business meeting he would be armed with a very worn copy of "Roberts Rules of Order" regardless of whether he was the parliamentarian and if asked to speak impromptu, his book of quotes would be tabbed with just the right sentiment for the occasion. Once convinced that encyclopedias were no longer the definitive sources for information having been replaced by the internet, Mr. Coleman did eventually get a computer, learn to use it, and even graduate to a Kindle in time. Now a "Walking Wikipedia," there was no match for Mr. Coleman among his peers at the McLodge (the local McDonald's where the seniors gathered during the early mornings.) They knew to not misstate a name, a date, or information regarding any current event in his presence….if the Wi-Fi was working. Mr. Coleman was charming, but for those who knew him well you recognized this a selective attribute. Others would have to submit to his discerning tastes. Nonetheless, he enjoyed the company of others, particularly if you would indulge in a glass of his homemade wine. He loved making speeches and telling stories, particularly about Mr. John and Ms. Liza, his parents, who clearly set the stage for his love of oration. This made the challenges that came about in his voice and later his speech even more difficult. His health conditions became more severe earlier this year with a diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease and finally losing his battle with pneumonia. "You have to take what the road gives you." -Theodore R. Coleman Mr. Coleman was preceded in death by his wife Perryjean; two stepsons, Michael Hollins and Terry Hollins; one brother, Vernal Edward Coleman; and nephew Walter (Brodie) Wallace, Jr. He leaves to celebrate his life and legacy two daughters: Sabrina Coleman Clark of Baltimore, MD and Denise Coleman of Phoenix, AZ; two sisters, Luvenia Coleman Rippy of Cleveland, OH and Geraldine Coleman Wallace of Charlotte, NC; two stepsons, Thomas Hollins of Wilmington, OH and Rick Hollins of Columbus, OH; one grandson, William Clark, IV of Baltimore, MD; three nephews, Darryl Rippy and Derrick Rippy of Cleveland, OH, and Andre Godfrey of Salisbury, NC; two nieces Michelle Coleman Lloyd of McDonough, GA and Kenya Coleman Tyus of Twinsburg, OH; along with a host of other relatives and friends. Always one to plan ahead whenever possible, the phrase above was a frequent reminder to be prepared for anything. As he contemplated what lie ahead as his prognosis was made clear during his final hospitalization, he would not have to worry. This time, he knew where this road would lead. The struggle was over. A viewing will be held Thursday, September 16, 2021, at Vaughn Greene Funeral Services - East, 4905 York Road , Baltimore, MD 21212, from 3:30 - 6:30 PM. The Burial will take place in Greenwood Cemetery in Zanesville, OH.
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Visitation at Funeral Home

3:30 pm - 6:30 pm
Thursday, September 16, 2021
Vaughn C. Greene Funeral Services
4905 York Road
Baltimore, Maryland, United States

Final Resting Place

Greenwood Cemetery
1413 Greenwood Avenue
Zanesville, Ohio, United States
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