Our Ministries
25 Mar

To Celebrate a Life of Love: Walter Reese Coe

Walter R. Coe, Lt. (USN) Retired, age 95, died March 17, 2020. He was born and raised in Parkersburg, WV.

Walt was beloved by his family and friends and set an excellent example as a devoted husband and father. He was extremely hardworking and sacrificed to put his six children through parochial schools and college. He was affectionate, charming, energetic, funny, and outgoing and prone to initiating conversations with complete strangers.

A veteran of two wars, Walt joined the U.S. Navy as a seaman at age 17 during the summer before the attack on Pearl Harbor. He moved up through seven enlisted ranks with extraordinary speed, rising to Chief Petty Office by the time he was 21 years old. Upon joining the service, he was trained in aircraft mechanics, and during WWII served at multiple locations in the Pacific theater, including on Guadalcanal Island. Following the war, in 1946, he was selected to serve on the original Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Team as Chief of Maintenance. In 1949, he was assigned to the Naval Attaché staff in Seoul, Korea, one year prior to the beginning of the Korean War. Following the invasion of Seoul and evacuation to Japan, he flew 37 unarmed reconnaissance missions over Korea as an observer with the newly formed Air Force Mosquito Squadron and was awarded the Air Medal and three Oak Leaf Clusters. In 1954, Walt was honored for saving lives on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Bennington following a tragic boiler explosion the prior year that killed 102 men and injured dozens of others. Walt attended OTS in 1957, and the following year, as an officer, he was assigned for four and a half years to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to help organize the Research and Development Center in Pomona, NJ. Walt retired from the US Navy in 1963, with 22 years of service, and retired at the rank of Lieutenant.

Walt moved his family to San Antonio, Texas and commenced a second career with Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, starting out as a store manager and retiring after 20 years as District Marketing Manager. For several years during this period, he also served on the Board of Directors of the Better Business Bureau of San Antonio.

Upon retirement from Firestone, Walt became a Blue and Gold officer for the U.S. Naval Academy. He served for seven years, recruiting and counseling Naval Academy candidates and helping at career events. He also served as president of the Shavano Heights Homeowner’s Association for five years, and later spearheaded many neighborhood projects.

Walter was predeceased by his parents, William and Dixie Counts Coe and eight of his siblings. He is survived by his beloved wife of 68 years, Dolores Jablonski Coe, whom he met while stationed at the American Embassy in Seoul, Korea. Walt is also survived by five children: Dr. Jeffrey D. Coe (Marlene) of Monte Sereno, CA, William R. Coe (Cindi) of Charlotte, NC, Monica J. Coe of San Antonio, TX, Michele Coe-Walker (James Walker) of McKinney, TX, James S. Coe of Atlanta, GA and 11 grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister, Kay Tolley, of Chesapeake, VA as well as numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.

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