I just read on the AACA website that Harold Coker has died. A major loss for the hobby.
I visited with him during the '99 Greatrace. He was a congenial guy. RIP
Longtime Business And Political Leader In Chattanooga
Harold Coker With his loving family by his side, Harold Coker went to be with his faithful Savior, Jesus Christ, on Sunday morning, November 16, 2014.
Harold was born on Christmas Eve in 1929 in a log cabin in Cherokee, North Carolina to Hardy and Ethel Coker. The first of his family to receive a college education, Harold graduated from Tennessee Wesleyan College in 1949 with an associate degree in chemical engineering, also graduating from Tennessee Tech in 1951 with a BS in chemistry. Shortly after college, Harold fell in love with a beautiful girl named Lillian Thomas of Athens, Tennessee in 1951, and married her on September 6, 1953.
An avid car enthusiast from a young age, Harold was one of the founding members of the AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America) chapter in Athens, in 1957 and eventually became the National AACA Club President in 1972. He started his business career as a territory manager with the B.F. Goodrich Tire Company and later starting his own business, Coker Tire Company, in Athens, in 1958 with the help of a loan from his parents (they sold their home to lend him the money). After moving his fledgling tire business to Chattanooga in 1961, Coker’s success led his company to become the largest supplier of collector car tire and wheels in the world. In 1985, he served as president of the National Tire Dealers and Re-Treaders Association eventually being inducted recently into the group’s Hall of Fame.
Harold served his nation in the National Guard achieving the rank of lieutenant. He was a long time, active member of Woodland Park Baptist Church. Harold Coker served on the Hamilton County Commission for over 20 years serving three terms as chairman in 1986, 1995 and 1999. He was often referred to as the father of the local Hamilton County Republican Party serving as one of its most active and successful county chairmen. While on the County Commission, Harold was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission. He was also president of the Pachyderm Club of Chattanooga. He and wife, Lill, worked diligently to elect conservatives in Hamilton County with the local GOP ultimately succeeding by electing a majority of GOP officeholders in county government. Harold ran for the United States Congress in 1988. He served most recently as an active board of directors member of Chattanooga’s Electric Power Board. In 2006, he received the Entrepreneur of the Year award from UTC. Harold assisted and was instrumental in negotiating to get the VAAP property into the hands of Hamilton County government. The VAAP (Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant) ultimately became the new home of the Volkswagen manufacturing facility. He was an active member of the Chattanooga Freedom’s Foundation and received the Spirit of ’76 award.
Harold was preceded in death by his parents, Hardy (Pop) and Ethel Coker, his youngest brother Bill Coker, and infant grandson, Jason Coker.
He is survived by his devoted wife of 61 years, Lillian (Thomas) Coker, and younger brother, Bob (Linda) Coker. He is also survived by his children, including Corky (Theresa) Coker, Christie (Jerry) Bowen, David (Kathy) Coker; his seven grandchildren: Casey (Greg) Cunningham, Nathan Bowen, Lauren (Jonathan Davis) Bowen, Cameron Coker, Kelly (John) Jacobs, Rachel (Brandon) Remmert, and Katie (Stefan Hanley) Coker. Three great-grandsons include Taylor, Joseph and Benjamin Cunningham, and Harper Jacobs.
Visitation will be at Chattanooga Funeral Home East, 404 S. Moore Road, on Tuesday, Nov. 18, from 3-7:30 p.m. The family will have a private graveside service.
The public is invited to a Celebration of Life service, officiated by Dr. Wayne Barber, on Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Woodland Park Baptist Church, 7501 Standifer Gap Road.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the Woodland Park Baptist Church Building Fund, 7501 Standifer Gap Road, Chattanooga, Tn. 37421, or the Family Action Counsel of Tennessee, 2479 Murfreesboro Road, Number 362, Nashville, Tn. 37179-3554.
Rest in the Lord's peace, sir.
I hate to hear that. Harold has always been good to me and always went out of his way to talk to me.
A gentleman's gentleman. I have had the honor of knowing Harold for a number of years both professionally and on a personal level.
He always greeted his many friends with a firm hand shake and warm smile. His business ethic was beyond reproach. His personal life was family first and his faith in god.
Men of Harold's character don't come along all that often and now that he has passed he will be missed.
My thoughts go out to Lillian and his family at their loss.
Past National President
Horseless Carriage Club of America
Too bad they can't make tubes correctly. A loss to the hobby indeed.
Sad day for the hobby
I had the pleasure of meeting Harold over 20 years ago he was a down to earth humble man, always willing to talk to anyone and answer questions, as well as ask a ton of them himself ....
For those that never knew him you've missed out on knowing a great person, he's shown us just about every corner of his business over the years, always willing to show off his new finds as well as the old ones, if you visited his store and happen to bump into him your visit just got extended another hour.... That's just the way he was.
I don't think I ever saw him through the summer months during show season when he didn't invite us out to the farm for a gathering of folks for a cook out, I doubt he ever met a stranger and treated everyone as a friend. He'll be missed.
My Coker tires never deflated on my 1953 Ford Customline in the 13 years it sat in my father's garage. They were a gift for Christmas on my 17th birthday.