- Last Updated on 07:59 AM 01/15/14
Albert Wood Coates Jr., died Monday, Jan. 13, 2014. A longtime Henrico County resident, Al was born March 16, 1932 in Franklin. He was the son of the late Rev. and Mrs. A.W. Coates Sr. (Lillian Matthews Coates) and brother of the late James R. Coates.
Al grew up in Drewryville, Alexandria, and Spotsylvania County and graduated from the University of Richmond in 1953. A protege of UR Professor Joe Nettles, he practiced journalism as a reporter for the Daily Press (1953-1957), where he covered mainly Newport News City Hall and local politics, and the Richmond Times- Dispatch (1957-1965), with principal assignments including municipal government, crime and courts.
Al’s career in Virginia state government began in 1965, when he began serving as Department of Highways Public Information officer. He served as special assistant to the Commissioner (1972-1976 and 1978-1983) and as management review officer (1983-1984). Al became Associate Press Secretary to Governor Mills E. Godwin Jr. (1976-1978) and later served in Governor Charles S. Robb’s cabinet as Deputy Secretary of Transportation (1985). He served his state as VDOT Assistant Commissioner for Administration from 1986 until his retirement in March 1996. Al was assigned to numerous special offices during his career, including Chairmanship of the Promotion Committee for Virginia’s Bicentennial Spruce Up Campaign (1975-1976), Press Coordinator for the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Virginia, July 1976, and Press Coordinator for America’s Victory Celebration at Yorktown (July-Oct., 1981).
He was a member of the Governor’s Task Force for the 1983 Summit of Industrialized Nations at Williamsburg, and was a longtime lecturer in press relations for the National Highway and Transportation Management Institute, University of Mississippi.
He received many awards for his work such as a Distinguished Service Award from Keep Virginia Beautiful (1976).
Al is survived by his beloved wife of nearly 57 years, Roberta Jones Coates; daughters, Debra C. Savage of Halifax and Susan C. Childress (Greg); sons, Albert W. Coates III (Barbara) and Timothy A. Coates, all of the Richmond area; his grandchildren, Lillian, Cassidy, Elizabeth, Merryn and Ruby.
Al was the world’s greatest dad and granddad. A former longtime church deacon and Sunday school teacher, Al was a kind and caring southern gentleman and is loved and missed by many.
A funeral service will be held Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, at 2 p.m. in the Chapel Mausoleum at Westhampton Memorial Park, with entombment to follow.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to your favorite charity.
Online condolences woodyfuneralhome.com.