Dr. Jesse M. Coker, formerly of Monticello, died Tuesday, November 26, 2013, at his home in Rogers, Arkansas at the age of 92 years.
He was born June 12, 1921, in Drew County and was the son of the late Lurie M. and Lois Harper Coker.
Dr. Coker is preceded in death by his wife Ernestine Wills Coker; his parents; and a brother, Mack Coker. Survivors include one daughter, Sandra Yingst and husband Len of Rogers; two granddaughters, Whitney Bailey and husband Greg of Bella Vista; and Kara Reeves and husband Jeff of Bentonville; and three great-grand children, Hudson and Bennett Reeves of Bentonville; and Maggie Bailey of Bella Vista. In addition, the family wishes to thank Martha Becker of Pea Ridge for her faithful service as Dad’s caregiver for the past seven years.
Jess was a retired college professor, having taught at the University of Arkansas-Monticello for many years. Besides teaching at UAM, he had been a teacher, principal, and superintendent in the Tiller public schools.
He was a decorated US Army veteran of the New Guinea and Philippines Campaigns in WWII. He earned the Purple Heart, a battlefield commission, and a Bronze Star for his gallantry and outstanding service. He wrote about his experiences in My Unforgettable Experiences of WWII and used the proceeds to offer scholarships to college students at UAM.
Jess retired to Rogers in 1999. He was an active member of First United Methodist Church, the American Legion Post, and the Rogers Optimist Club. For his great generosity, boundless dedication, and hard work for the Rogers Optimist Club, the club honored him, forevermore, by naming its “Optimist of the Year” award in his honor. He enjoyed speaking to students about his WWII experiences while wearing his WWII uniform. He was interested in young people in the area, always stressing wise choices and attaining higher education.
In conclusion, there is a great void in the lives of his family today. We will miss his love and support, his encouragement and generosity. His commitment for living a life of service to his family, his church, and to his community is a wonderful legacy.
Visitation will be held November 30 from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at Stephenson Dearman Funeral Home in Monticello.
Funeral services will be held December 1 at 2 p.m. at the funeral home with burial at Oakland Cemetery in Monticello.
A memorial service is also planned for December 23, 2013, at 2:00 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, 307 W. Elm St., Rogers, Arkansas, with Rev. David Bentley officiating.