William Jerome (Will) Coe died October 10, 2021, from complications of Parkinson's and a fall. He was home in Durango, surrounded by his wife and two sons.
He was born October 15, 1935 to Jerome vanBenschoten Coe and Vera Hartle Coe (nee Keefe) in Malone, New York. During his first twelve years he lived in Conifer, Lake Placid, and Ludlowville, New York. After the War college classes swelled and his dad secured a teaching position at Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens, Tennessee. Moving to the Bible Belt when about to turn twelve was culturally shocking. Bill graduated from McMinn County High School in Athens in 1953 and was lucky enough to win an academic scholarship to Dartmouth College and, in 1957, to graduate with distinction and with a resolve to change his name from Bill to Will. A graduate fellowship took him to Vanderbilt University, which he left in 1959 with an MA in Philosophy and a new wife, Fancher Marie Stoutz Coe. They headed north to Pennsylvania State University which had granted Will a fellowship that covered his tuition, and an assistantship which allowed him to - barely - support his wife and his son, Justin Josiah Coe, who arrived that year. Will's daughter, Clellan Ruth Coe, was born in 1962.
By 1961 Will had completed the coursework and exams for the PhD in philosophy but it took him several years, while teaching at Baldwin-Wallace College and Southeast Missouri State College, to complete his dissertation and receive his degree. He did that in 1967 and moved to Northern Illinois University and then to Fort Lewis College in 1971, where he loved the outdoors, his colleagues, and, above all, his students and his teaching. He retired from Fort Lewis College in 2000.
After he and his wife divorced in 1972 he was a single parent for six years. Will married Victoria Romero Dry (Vicki) in 1977, when Justin and Clellan were teenagers. Will's second son, Nathan Jerome Coe, was born in 1981.
Interacting with colleagues and students in his office or in the classroom, and lecturing and discussing while teaching philosophy at Fort Lewis College were what made Will's professional life meaningful and important. After his retirement in 2000 he missed those aspects of his career more than the interminable paper grading and college committee meetings. He loved photography, playing tennis, travel, supporting Vicki's painting and time with family and friends.
Survivors include his wife Victoria and son Nathan, of Durango; his daughter Clellan and two grandsons, Lucas and Julián Farias, of Gijón, Spain; son Justin and daughter-in-law Cova of Madrid, Spain; brother Webster Coe, sister-in-law Debbie Coe, and nieces Lindsey and Sara, of Georgia and Tennessee; and ex-wife Fancher Marie Gotesky of Magdalena, New Mexico.
Will's life is a model of equanimity, kindness, dignity and understanding that shall continue to benefit all of us all the days of our lives. A celebration of his life will he held at a later date.
Published by The Durango Herald on Oct. 11, 2021.