He was born Jan. 23, 1923 in Thomasville, the oldest son of the late Mary Anna Coates and John Gildersleeve. He moved to Niagara Falls, N.Y. in 1952. He was employed by Union Carbide, International Graphite, and worked with Merritt, Chapman, & Scott on the construction of the Niagara Power Project of the New York State Power Authority.
He had an appreciation for locomotive trains, trucks of any kind, antique cars, following the stock market, conversing about politics and current events, and was happiest while working in his garden. He was a member of Morning Star Church of God in Christ, a former member of the Teamsters Union in Rochester, NY, and the U.S. Trotting Association. He started Coates Paving Company in 1954. He had a passion for harness racing, the “Sport of Kings,” and owned many thoroughbred race horses.
He leaves to cherish his memory three sons, Havord Coates, Niagara Falls, NY, Richard Coates, Jr., Buffalo, NY, and Bobby Joe (Jackie) Coates of Atlanta, GA; four daughters: Mattie (Robbin) Small, Alma (Tracy) Hall, Niagara Falls, NY; Wyndola (Eddie) McClain, Lewiston, NY, Marilyn Jackson, Atlanta, GA; two brothers, Horace (Barbara) Coates, Roy Lee (Star) Coates, Niagara Falls, NY; two sisters, Georgia Lee Gildersleeve, Pine Hill, Lenice (Roy) Betton, Grand Island, NY; a sister-in-law: Lydia Kennedy, Orlando, FL; 16 grandchildren, 29 greatgrandchildren, a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, a dear devoted friend Celia Wilson, Niagara Falls, NY.
He was preceded in death by his stepfather, Raymond Coates Sr.; his beloved wife, Elvira Coates, transitioned in 1989, two infant sons, Jesse and Leonard Coates; siblings Buster Coates, Rosie (Robert) Dumas, Lucille (Joe) Rivers, Frank Coates, Raymond (Annie) Coates.
Arrangements by Williamson Funeral Home, 635 Main Street, Niagara Falls, NY 14301
You may send condolences to Marilyn Jackson, 540 Lake Joyce Lane, Fairburn, Georgia, 30213 or messages of sympathy to: www.legacy.com/ gb2/default. aspx?bookid=9376052309