One of my favorite persons is a former Nazareth resident named Bill Coker who moved to sunnier climes in South Carolina a few years ago. Unfortunately, Bill passed away on Sunday.
I first got to know Bill in what seems like a lifetime ago. My grandson, who was then about four or five, was already a sports nut. I am not. I took him to the baseball diamond at the Green Street Park in Nazareth, where I had hoped to teach him everything I know about baseball. That took about three seconds and was all wrong. But suddenly, Dat was joined by a small army of older kids who knew a lot more than I did, and were willing to share. Two of these kids were Bill Coker's grandsons, Shane and Doug. Bill's son Doug and Bill himself would join in as well. My grandson ended up spending the rest of the dasy paying pick up baseball with these kids, or whatever else they had in mind.
The next day, he insisted that his mother take him back to the park. "My team needs me," he insisted. So she did, and as it happens, these older kids were happy to see Dat and made him one of their own. They played everything. Baseball. Football. Running bases. Manhunt.
One of the big reasons my grandson became so athletic was ther encouragement he received at a vey young from the Cokers.
When Nazareth's fearless leaders embarked on a scheme to destroy the Green Street Park for an expansion of the municipal building, Bill was among the many who joined Lori Bernardo's winning fight against it. He circulated petitions among hundreds of residents, spoke at meetings and was one of those who saved the park for the kids.
Though a slight guy, Bill himself was quite athletic, too. He was a hockey player and official, and actually trained Tony Iannelli to be a hockey ref.
When I started blogging, Bill was among my first readers and most regular commenters. He always encouraged my, even when he disagrred with my take.
For years, Bill had wanted to move to South Carolina, and finally did so a few short years ago. I know he loved it down there, especailly loved the lower tax bill.
Unfortunately, guys like Bill end up in heaven. I'll be somewhere else when my time comes, catching up with old friends. Hope Bill can call to say Hi.