Longtime newspaper veteran, John W. Coleman entered the Kingdom of God Wednesday Jan. 22, 2014. He was 87.
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For over 30 years, Coleman was editor and publisher of The Southtowns Citizen (formerly The Suburban Press) weekly newspaper and president-treasurer of Coleman Communications Corporation of Orchard Park, N.Y. During his tenure, the community weekly won more than 80 state and national awards for editorial excellence.
When he relocated to Wellsboro, he worked at the Williamsport Sun Gazette reporting locally for the borough.
During his professional life Coleman was involved in many organizations. He was a member in the Society of Professional Journalists, charter member and former director of Greater Buffalo International Chapter (Sigma Delta Chi); a former director of the New York Press Association; a former director of the President's Advisory Committee for the Mass Communications Department at St. Bonaventure University, Olean, N.Y.
Coleman's spirit and dedication to Orchard Park and the Southtowns never waned. He was a founder, past president and life member of Orchard Park (NY) Chamber of Commerce. He was founder and sponsor of the Quaker Arts Festival, Orchard Park's annual community event. In 1982 Coleman was named Orchard Park's "Citizen of the Year" and named to the "Post of Fame" of Orchard Park in 1990.
Another major project that Coleman's initiative was vital was the development and expansion of the Southern Tier Expressway, connecting Rte. 219 in Orchard Park to Springville (NY) attracting many state politicos including Governor Hugh Carey for the ribbon-cutting ceremonies.
Coleman was the first local non-Rotarian to receive the Paul Harris Fellow for furtherance of better understanding and friendly-relations presented by Orchard Park Rotary Club; charter member of Orchard Park Kiwanis Club; honorary member of the Hillcrest Volunteer Fire Company and member of the Orchard Park Historical Society.
He performed his civic duties with valor. In 1995 he ran for office for the Orchard Park Village Board as "An Independent Voice in Village Government" because he had been a community watchdog for over 35 years. He served as a director of the Southtowns Primary Care Center; member of the Orchard Park American Legion Post 567 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6247 of Orchard Park. He served on the facilities and implementation committees for long-range planning of the Orchard Park Central School District.
In his early years, he was appointed editor of the Orbit. He served in editorial capacities on newspapers in Buffalo, N.Y., Erie, Pa. and Jamestown, N.Y. and was a staff correspondent for United Press International following a stint in industrial public relations and publications (Bell Aircraft Corp., American Bosch Arma Corp. and Ford Motor Company). Coleman is a veteran of the United States Navy and served on an aircraft carrier in World War II. He was a graduate St, Catherine's High School and attended Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y.
He is survived by his wife, Gloria, of 62-plus years of marriage; three sons, Mark of Wellsboro, Jonathan (Gail) of Wellington, Fla., Christopher of Buffalo, N.Y.; six daughters, Adria (Norman) Thomas of Boca Raton, Fla., Desiree (Kenneth) Cohrn of Tavares Fla., Tara (Paul) Nickel of Honeoye Falls, N.Y., Melissa (Scott) Smith of Boca Raton, Fla., Dana Coleman of Fruitland Park, Fla.; grandchildren, Carissa Nickel of Raleigh, N.C., Wesley Nickel of Boca Raton, Fla., Justin (Megan) Thompson of Delray Beach Fla., Damon Thompson of Boca Raton, Fla., Robert Shipman of Fruitland Park, Fla., Colin Smith of Boca Raton, Fla., Morgan Shipman of Fruitland Park, Fla.; sister, Mary Lou (John), Travers of Hamburg, N.Y.; several nieces and nephews. Coleman was predeceased by his daughter, Gloria Coleman-Thompson of Orchard Park, N.Y.; three brothers, Frank and Richard of Buffalo, N.Y., and Ronald of Bradford.
A visitation will be held Friday, Jan. 31, from 2 to 3 p.m., at Tussey-Mosher Funeral Home, "A Life Celebration Home," 139 Main St., Wellsboro, with a memorial service to follow at 3 p.m. Condolences may be left online at www.lifecelebration.com. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Coleman's honor to the Salvation Army, 968 Main St., Buffalo, N.Y. 14202-1197.
Tussey-Mosher Funeral Home, Ltd.
139 Main Street
Wellsboro, PA 16901
Published in The Wellsboro Gazette from Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2014