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John Albert "Jack" Coker


1929 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
John Albert "Jack" Coker, 87, of Athens, died of natural causes with his family at his bedside on Sunday, June 5, 2016.

A native of South Bend, Indiana, Mr. Coker was the son of the late Curtis and Mildred Collier Coker. He was an MBA graduate from Indiana University who became a CPA. Over five decades he worked for firms in Indianapolis, San Francisco, and Miami, ran a private practice in Blairsville, Georgia, and served for three years as comptroller for Young Harris College.

An accomplished jazz pianist, Mr. Coker played professionally for more than sixty years, performing in small jazz groups and big bands, and accompanying various vocalists. In Indianapolis he performed with famed jazz musicians Wes Montgomery and Slide Hampton. He later played shows for such entertainers as Sammy Davis Jr., Red Skelton, Vicki Carr, and the Modernaires, and he performed in concert with the bands of Woody Herman, Nelson Riddle, and Tex Beneke. He played twice during the 1960s at the Concord Jazz Festival and in the 1990s taught jazz piano and theory at the University of North Carolina at Asheville.

A longtime Quaker, Mr. Coker was a member of the Athens Friends Meeting. During the Korean War he served as a corporal in the accounting and budget division of the Tokyo Quartermaster Depot.

Mr. Coker is survived by his wife, Barbara Jean Winters Coker; his daughter, Karen Lee Coker and devoted friend, Paul W. Early; his son, Jerry Alan Coker and wife, Teresa Schretter Coker; his granddaughter, Sarah Jean Coker; his grandson, Suny Daniel Coker Lyons and wife, Amanda Crouse Lyons; and three great-grandchildren. Mr. Coker is also survived by his brother, jazz educator and author, Jerry Coker and wife, Patty Coker; and nephew, Curt Coker and his wife, Susan Draeger Coker, all of Cleveland, Ohio.

A memorial service will be planned for some time later this year. No flowers, please.

Online condolences may be offered at www.bernsteinfuneralhome.com.

Bernstein Funeral Home and Cremation Service is in charge of arrangements. 1929 - 2016

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Published in Athens Banner-Herald on June 18, 2016
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