MARCH 27, 1939 – JANUARY 28, 2014
John Calvin Coker was born in New Orleans on March 27, 1939, and lived in the Carrollton section until leaving for
college. He started working at an early age with a paper route, then for a dry cleaning firm, and during high school
and college for A&P, working his way up to cashier. During this time he also got his License to Preach and
delivered his first sermon, based on John 3:16, at Carrollton UMC. John graduated from the University of Southern
Mississippi and Emory’s Candler School of Theology.
John began his ministry as a student pastor in Gainesville, Ga. In 1967, he returned to Louisiana with his new wife
Louise and was assigned to Metairie UMC. He also served St. Francisville/ Tunica, Indian Bayou/ Kaplan,
Chatham/ Eros, Deerford/ St. Paul’s, and Bethel. One of his favorite pastorates was Indian Bayou. The parsonage
property included three large grapefruit trees (his favorite fruit) and a fenced pasture with an old chicken house.
John told his new congregation and neighbors he would like to try raising a few animals. Soon he had chickens,
ducks, geese, guineas, rabbits, and even a few sheep; at the appropriate time, he was even taught how to shear them.
John also worked at the Louisiana State Penitentiary as a classification officer and chaplain for eight years before
returning to the ministry.
When he was 51, John’s kidneys failed. He began dialysis, had a kidney transplant which lasted over eighteen
years, developed diabetes, and finally went back on dialysis for the last four years of his life. Over the years he was
in the hospital many times, but he didn’t believe in quitting, and continued to serve as a pastor until he sustained a
badly crushed heel while helping to paint one of his churches and had to accept disability leave. John not only
spoke of his faith, he lived his faith. He loved people, and even after retirement continued to minister to everyone
he met, especially his dialysis group. He also loved to sing, and joined the choir in every church he served. At the
time of his death, he was a choir member at St. Luke’s UMC in Baton Rouge.
John is survived by his wife of 48 years, Louise; sons John Coker Jr. and wife Catalina, Tim Coker, and Matt Coker
and wife Erin; grandchildren Sydney Rametta, Hanna Coker, and Michael Coker; brothers Thomas Coker and wife
Joan, and the Rev. Dr. William Coker and wife Ann. He was preceded in death by his parents, Thomas J. and
Wilmoth Baggett Coker, and his sister, Mary Coker Barbier.