James Melville Coleman Jr.
AGE: 90 • Asbury Park
James Melville Coleman Jr., 90, of Asbury Park, died Saturday, April 12, 2014, in Rockville Centre, NY. "Chippy" was born in Long Branch, NJ on Feb. 17, 1924 to James M. and Chestina Blodgett Coleman. As a lifelong resident of Asbury Park, he attended Asbury Park High School where he was a two-time All-State basketball player and longtime half-mile record holder in outdoor track. Following graduation in 1942, he attended Dartmouth College where he continued his basketball career, starting as a freshman for a team which played in the 1943 NCAA tournament. He then served for two years in the U.S. Army
Air Forces where he was stationed in Italy with the 461st Bombardment Group. He returned to Dartmouth in 1945 where he played basketball for three more seasons, being selected All-League in 1945-46 and Team Captain in 1946-47 and 1947-1948. Following graduation in 1948, he enrolled in Cornell Law School and received his law degree in 1951. Returning to Asbury Park, he joined the law firm of Patterson, Cooper & Coleman, where he practiced for many years. He was elected to the Asbury Park City Council in 1957 and served until 1965. In 1966, he was elected to the NJ State Assembly and twice re-elected. After running unsuccessfully for U.S. Congress in 1968, he spent his last term as Assemblyman as Chair of the Joint Budget and Appropriations Committee. He was especially proud of the work he did in creating the framework for the NJ State Lottery, co-sponsoring the bill which specified the details with fellow Assemblyman and future Governor Thomas Kean, and shepherding the votes necessary for its passage. From 1972 to 1977, he served as Monmouth County Prosecutor. While holding that office, he was appointed by President Richard Nixon to serve for two years on the Commission on the Review of the National Policy Toward Gambling. Following his term as Prosecutor, he served from 1977 to 1980 in the office of the NJ Legislative Reviser of Statutes. In 1980, Governor Brendan Byrne appointed him to a Superior Court judgeship on the Monmouth County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. He served in that capacity until his retirement in 1987. He remained active in public service in following years, serving from 1998 to 2007 on the Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards. He was elected to the Shore Athletic Club Hall of Fame and the Jersey Shore Sports Hall of Fame in 2001 and to the Asbury Park High School Hall of Fame in 2003.
Chippy served for many years as treasurer and secretary for his beloved Dartmouth Class of '46 and he cherished his friendships with classmates and visits back to Hanover. He was an avid fisherman, bird-watcher, and fossil collector. He entertained many with his stories and wide knowledge of many subjects, as well as his piano playing and occasional egg juggling. No matter where you came from, he seemed to have some story about its history or a past visit there.
He was preceded in death by his sister, Ruth Anne Coleman van Leer; his first wife and mother of his children, Dolores Kassak Coleman and his second wife, Judith Stanley Coleman. He is survived by his six children, John (Jayne), Danville, CA, James, Greenville, NC, Mary Berman (Howard), Valley Stream, NY, George (Jennifer), Virginia Beach, VA, Philip, Asbury Park, and Elizabeth (Victor Funtanilla), Santa Fe, NM; and six grandchildren, Chase Coleman, Melissa Berman, Hal Berman, Rachel Coleman, Hunter Coleman and Zack Funtanilla.
Visitations will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 17 and from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, April 18 at Ely Funeral Home, Neptune. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Monmouth County SPCA, 260 Wall St., P.O. Box 93, Eatontown, NJ 07724. Access online obituary and condolences at www.elyfuneralhome.com