Ethel Gillis Coleman, born Jan. 13, 1916 in Concord, Cabarrus County, N.C. to the late William Henry and Barbara Goins Gillis. She departed this life peacefully at the Hillcrest Convalescence Center in Durham, Jan. 14, 2014.
Mrs. Coleman was married to Bishop Clinton R. Coleman, Sr. on August 25, 1941. Bishop Coleman preceded her in death 17 years ago. Mrs. Coleman gave birth to four children, who mourn her death; Frances C. Walford, Baltimore, Md.; Barbara C. Smith, East Hartford, Ct.; Clinton R. Coleman Jr., Baltimore Md., G. Ray Coleman, Durham, N.C., with whom she lived since May, 2006. She is the grandmother of 8, the great grandmother of 12.
Mrs. Coleman attended the public schools of Concord and received her bachelor’s degree from Fayetteville State University (College), Fayetteville, N.C. in 1956. A member of Gamma Upsilon Zeta Chapter, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Mrs. Coleman taught in the public schools of North Carolina and retired from the Baltimore City School System in 1976.
From 1972- 1992, she worked along with her husband as missionary supervisor of the Episcopal areas her husband served during his 20 active years as a bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, worldwide.
Mrs. Coleman loved fashionable clothes and wore elegant and beautiful hats. She was a friend to many, and particularly enjoyed her time with “the Birthday Girls” of Baltimore. To most of the women who were members of the Pennsylvania A.M.E. Zion Church, Baltimore, she was affectionately called “Lady Ethel.” To some she was also a second mom.
Although Mrs. Coleman spent nearly 47 years as a member of the Pennsylvania Avenue A.M.E. Zion Church, 13 of those years as First Lady while her husband was pastor; upon moving to Durham seven years ago, she immediately transferred her membership to the St. Mark A.M.E. Zion Church. She quickly adjusted and began an intense love connection with the members of St. Mark.
While her recent months were spent at the hospital and in convalescence, her room was always filled with her St. Mark family.
We will miss and always cherish her radiant smile and her quick wit. Our faith tells us that she has simply transferred her membership again to her permanent home with the Lord.
Services were held, Jan. 21, at St. Mark AME Zion Church in Durham, N.C., where the Rev. Dr. G. Ray Coleman is senior Pastor. Bishop Nathaniel Jarrett officiated.