David E. Coats, 74, died on June 1, 2023 after receiving a diagnosis of ALS on March 30, 2022. Taking inspiration from a song composed by Danny Schmidt, “Company of Friends”, Dave asked, “When I die let them judge me by my company of friends. Let them know me by the footprints that I left upon the sands.” As the only child of (George) Thomas and Catherine (James) Coats (both deceased) Dave began making friends with his relatives, Herschel and Loretta Coats (both deceased) and Walter and Emma (Coats) Doyle (both deceased), along with cousins Jeff (Jenny) Coats, Mary Ellen (Jerry) Lish, Kathy Jo (Gary) Bryant and Walter Joe (Pat) Doyle.
He made more friends in grade school, especially Dan Brock.
Dave was a graduate of Latin High School in Indianapolis where he made lifelong friends in Randy Hartley (deceased), Mark Svarrczkopf and Paul Johnson.
Dave graduated from St. Meinrad Seminary College and School of Theology and was ordained a Catholic priest on June 6, 1973. His Company of Friends increased by his brotherhood of priests in the Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis and members of the parishes in which he served including New Albany, Tell City, French Lick and Indianapolis. Other friends he made during this time include Eva Corsaro and Sister Nicolette Etienne, OSB.
After serving in these parishes, he worked in the Chancery of the Archdiocese where his Company of Friends increased again to include Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara (deceased), Paul Koetter (deceased), Jeff Godecker, Ed (Kim) Isakson, Dan Elsner and many more persons, too many to mention. During his ministry as Director of Priests Personnel and Vicar General of the Archdiocese, he was deeply involved in the formation of The Damien Center, at a time when HIV/AIDS was feared and loathed and added Kent and Elizabeth Howard to his Company of Friends .
After leaving active ministry as a priest, Dave worked in several positions in the community including the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee, Marion County Health and Hospital Corporation, and the Polis Center at IUPUI. He is survived by even more friends from these organizations including Toby and Velvet Miller, John (Martina) Kansky, Laura (Jeremy) Orcutt, Kevin (Karmen) Mickey, Jack and Chris Schmitz, David Bodenhamer, John Buechler, Jim Sparks, Giedrius Kaveckis and many more, again, too many to mention.
Dave enjoyed great conversation with a group of Catholic men, affectionately known as ROMEOS (Retired Old Men Eating Out). Tuesday mornings found them all gathering together to solve the world’s problems and have a cup of coffee. Once Dave could no longer leave home, George Maley, Jack Fink, JD Lawrence, Carl McClelland, Art Boyle, Greg Schenkel and Rick Bosler all came to him and continued the coffee and conversation.
Dave is survived by his wife of 28 years, Grace (Wollersheim-Lang) Colette, his stepson, Andy Lang, daughter in law, Theresa Lang and “family members” Bob and Patsy Lang and German Alvarez-Lopez. Dave’s Company of Friends grew because of them to include Don (Judy) Wollersheim, Kenny and Samantha Franklin and family, Rasheed Newson, Chris Herald, Becky Schaefer and Ellen (Camp) Laugle, Anya and Chad Turner, Charlie (Dianne) Gardner Chris Herald, OP, Mary Greiner and Jane Franceschini, Jon Wheeler and, again, too many to mention.
Shortly after Dave’s diagnosis of ALS, Dave and Grace asked for prayers from friends, who Grace soon came to call “angels”. The power of that prayer throughout the last 14+ months was felt every day and strengthened them and their close friends to navigate the heartbreak of this devastating disease. Many thanks to all those who prayed on their own and attended the Prayer Service and Anointing of the Sick on March 12 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church. That service gave both Dave and Grace what they needed to patiently and gracefully live to the fullest until the day Dave died.
Although ALS stole Dave’s ability to move his body at will, he never lost his brilliant mind, his love of travel, his desire to go out to eat and spend quality time with friends. In the 14 months after his diagnosis, Dave, along with his wife Grace and several special friends travelled to places including: Michigan, St. Meinrad, Indiana, New York City (twice), two weeks in Israel, French Lick, Indiana, Banff/Lake Louise/Vancouver Canada, Kentucky, Bridges of Madison County, Iowa, Hawaii, two week cruise in South America, leaving Buenos Aires, Argentina, rounding Cape Horn and arriving in Santiago, Chile. His final trip was to Utah where he visited good friends Dan and Katie Heist and family, before visiting his adopted grandkids and family, Jeff and Margel, (Emily) Ash, Charlie, Simon and Jane Pitcher in Colorado.
Once travelling became too difficult to navigate, Dave and Grace concentrated their energies going out to eat and spending time with friends, engaging in lively conversation and table/board games. Eventually, friends came to him, bringing food and conversation to Dave’s home. His last months were filled with special times and affirmations of love and appreciation.
Services will be July 8, 2023 at Indiana Math and Science Academy at 7453 N. Keystone Ave, where Dave served on the Board for ten years. Visitation will be 4:00-6:00 p, with An Evening of Tribute, Prayer and Song at 7:00-9:00 pm. Deb Miller, who officiated at Dave and Grace’s wedding 28 years ago will facilitate this service.
Memorial contributions may be made to The Dave Coats Academy for the Creation of Sacred Icons. 6946 W. 71st Street Indianapolis, IN 46278