John Oldham Coleman Sr. was born to Christopher and Eva Coleman in Knoxville, Tenn. on Aug. 3, 1919. John received his elementary and junior high school education in Chattanooga, Tenn. In 1936, he graduated from Austin High School in Knoxville. John was raised in the Holiness Church and received Christ in his life during that time. Prior to his military service in the U.S. Army, he spent two years attending Knoxville College. He was honorably discharged after serving his country as a medical laboratory technician from April 17, 1942 to December 16, 1945. He went on to receive his B.A. in economics from Howard University in 1948 and his M.A. in economics from American University in 1953. While attending Howard he met the love of his life, Gertie Lee Parrish, whom he married on Aug. 14, 1949. Gertie preceded him in death, April 3, 2006. They were the proud parents of John Jr. and Deborah Dianne; grandparents of Eric Xavier, Dianne Renea, John III and Amber Lee.
John became a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity in 1948 while attending Howard University. He was a lifetime member of the American Statistical Association, American Bridge Association, Contract Bridge League, and Neighbors, Inc. His expert play and love of the game led him to teach bridge lessons to many from his home. His other true passion was his music. John was a jazz historian and often spent hours on end collecting, listening to, and recording tapes for his own pleasure and presentation to others. He and Gertie were partners in life, on the dance floor and so much more.
John’s illustrious work career began in 1944 where he was a research assistant with R.W. Goldsmith & Associated. In 1950 he worked at American University as a research assistant in the Bureau of Social Science and later became a graduate assistant in the Dept. of Statistics. In 1952 as a statistician, John worked on President Harry S. Truman’s commission in the study of U.S. health needs. From 1952 thru 1969 he worked as a statistician for the U.S. Army Surgeon General’s Office, the U.S. Office of Education and the IRS. He became Chief of the Manpower Statistics Division, Civil Service Commission which is now OPM, Office of Personnel Management. In 1972 he was special assistant. in the office of Survey and Design within the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). He retired form BLS in January, 1979 as Chief, Statistical Methods Division.
He was blessed to witness the high school graduation of each of his four grandchildren, the graduation of his granddaughter, Dianne from college and the enlisting of his granddaughter, Amber into the U.S. Navy. John moved into Riderwood Senior Living after the death of his wife. While there he developed a special friendship with Mary Gross. They became bridge partners and enjoyed each other’s company on a regular basis.
He lives on in the memory and hearts of his loved ones; his son, John O. Coleman, Jr. (Carolyn), his daughter, Deborah D. Anderson (Samuel) grandchildren, Eric X. Clifton (Denise), Dianne R. Pringle (Clyde), John O. Coleman, III, Amber L. Coleman, great-grandchildren, Isaiah Hill, Erica Clifton, Jasmyn Pringle, Marquetta Ford, Asia Law, great-great grandchildren, Jaylah and Stori Ford, foster great-grandchildren, Kaylip and Emmanuel Taylor, sisters, Dorothy Walker, Vivian Davis, Margaret Coleman-Cowherd (Charles) Annie Loggans, Lillian Coleman and Sarah Branner (Clint), sister in-law Mary Coleman, brother in-law, Robert Gill, special friend and companion, Mary Gross and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends.