John Stanhope Coolidge
Passed away peacefully at his home in Berkeley on Nov. 23, 2012, one week after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. John was born to Charles Bryant (Cal) and Jane Toy Coolidge in Laramie, WY on July 26, 1926, not far from the homestead staked by his paternal grandfather, Alfred.
He grew up in Merchantville, NJ, across the Delaware from Philadelphia. As a young man he enjoyed helping out on his uncle's ranch in the summers, hitchhiking across the country with a good friend, and working in the Youth Conservation Corps in Kings Canyon, California. He played football all through high school where he was known as "the Mighty Mite from Merchantville High." He was an ardent but often heartbroken Cal Bear fan.
When World War II came to an end, John was a seaman first class preparing to be trained as a naval aviator. He attended Harvard University, where he earned a BA in English and History, and his MA and PhD in English Literature. He taught English Literature with an emphasis in Milton and Shakespeare at Swarthmore College from 1956 -1960, and at UC Berkeley from 1960 - 1994
In 1964, he married Carolyn Penta, and they raised three children together. In 1991, he was married a second time to Becky Osborn, with whom he enjoyed a satisfying retirement filled with travel, bird watching expeditions, volunteer service and caring for and enjoying grandchildren.
His interests in language and literature were wide-ranging. His ongoing study of French, Greek, Latin, and Hebrew enabled him to study important works, including the Bible, in their original language, and to maintain a lifetime of scholarship. He wrote several articles and the published book' The Pauline Renaissance in England".
He continued to teach as an emeritus professor in the Freshman-Sophomore Seminar program up until a few weeks before his death. He also taught popular courses on the Anglican poets in his church community. His dedicated commitment to learning will be remembered by countless students whom he inspired through his excitement both about teaching and about the riches to be found in the subject texts.
He is survived by his loving wife, Becky, his children Charles (Cal), Martha, and Rebecca, Rebecca's husband John, stepchildren Matthew and wife Erin, Katy and husband Brian, former wife Carolyn, and grandchildren Sarah and Katie, Nick and Emily, William, Paul and Imogen, and Maddie and her sister (due in January). He is also survived by his sister Toy, six nephews and nieces, and nine grandnieces and grandnephews.
There will be a memorial service and reception at 2 p.m. on Saturday, December 1, at St. Alban's Episcopal Church, 1501 Washington Avenue at Curtis Street, Albany, CA. In lieu of flowers, please send any contributions to the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program, 165 22nd Street, Richmond, CA, 94801.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Nov. 30, 2012