Memorial services for David Alexander Coats will be held at First Presbyterian Church on May 20, 2013, at 1 p.m. with the Rev. Stuart Baskin officiating. David died on May 8, 2013, of complications of acute lymphocytic leukemia after a courageous battle of almost 3 1/2 years.
David was born in Henderson Feb. 14, 1939, to John Ellis and Martha Parker Coats while his dad was on emergency leave from the Navy. He grew up in San Diego, Calif., Pensacola, Fla., and East Texas at Mount Enterprise and Nacogdoches. He graduated from Nacogdoches High School and while in high school, he started a dance band with friends from the high school marching band. He was also the first male drum major in the school. He attended SFASU for his undergraduate degree, graduating second in his class after attending only three years and never taking classes in the summer. He spent his summers working full time. He attended medical school at Bowman Gray School of Medicine (Wake Forest University) where he received his MD degree in 1964. He did a rotating internship at Brooke General Hospital at Fort Sam Houston from 1964 to 1965. This was followed by a three-year general radiology residency, also at Brooke General Hospital. He served two years of duty as chief of radiology at Lyster Army
Hospital at Fort Rucker, Ala., and then was assigned to duty in the Republic of Vietnam, initially at the 93rd Evacuation Hospital in Long Binh and then at the Third Field Hospital in Saigon where he was chief of radiology. He also served as an Army flight surgeon at both of these hospitals. He returned to the U.S. and joined Drs. Robinson and MacBurney in private practice in Tyler for one year before going into solo practice of radiology. He was also board certified in nuclear medicine.
He was a professional pilot in college and worked as a flight instructor, charter pilot, covered fire patrol and in the summers he worked as an agricultural pilot in South Central Texas and in Wisconsin. In addition to owning several airplanes, he personally built an RV8 and totally restored a 1946 J-3 Cub.
David was an Airline Transport Rated Pilot for land and he also earned his seaplane rating and finished off his aviation education later in his career by becoming A&P (aviation mechanic and power plant) certified. He was a certified FFA Medical Examiner and loved providing the service of flight physicals for fellow pilots. He even introduced his grandson to the joy of learning to fly.
David was a lifetime endowed Mason and Shriner and a member of the First Presbyterian Church. He was active in several aviation organizations including the AOPA, EAA, and the Malibu/Mirage Pilots Association (an international organization) and he served as president for two years and a board member for eight years. In addition, he was instrumental in founding the Malibu/Mirage Training and Safety Foundation and was the president for two years as well as a member of the board. He was also a proud member of the QB Hangar in Tyler.
David was married to the love of his life, Emily Bell, whom he met in college. They were married in 1962 while in medical school.
David is survived by his wife, Emily; his children, Catherine Reynolds, married to Dr. Branden Reynolds, of Spokane Wash., Jason Coats, of Irving; and two brothers, Jon "Buddy" Coats, of Guatemala, and Larry Coats, of Virginia. He also took great pride in his two grandchildren, Valerie and James Reynolds. He has two older half brothers, Ellis and Clarence Coats, of California; and several nephews and nieces.
Honorary pallbearers are Fred Hirschbach, Joe Casey, Charles Clark, Ron Gammell, Gary Murray, Vince Richbourg, Dennis Spence, Sandy Stock, Orville Wenover, Arnold Wharton, Ed Wilkinson and the Cherokee County Pilots Association.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to First Presbyterian Church, 230 W. Rusk St., Tyler, 75701; Children's Village, P.O. Box 6564 Tyler, 75711; or Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, North Texas Chapter, 8111 LBJ Freeway, Suite 425, Dallas, 75211.