In Memory

Keith Coates

Keith J. Coates
April 29, 1928 - December 7, 2013

Keith J. Coates passed away peacefully with his children and grandchildren by his side on Saturday morning, December 7, 2013 at the Clarkson Health Care facility in Rapid City.

Keith was born to “Kitty” and Leonard Coates on April 29th, 1928. He was born and grew up in his beloved Platte, South Dakota where he was well known for his exploits in baseball, basketball and football. He graduated from Platte High School in 1946.

He attended South Dakota State University for two years, took a year off to teach junior high in Platte, and then returned to SDSU, completing his education in 1951. Following a four-year stint in the Navy, he taught at Corsica High School for a year and then Platte for five years.

After completing his Master’s Degree in 1961, he took his first administration job in Provo, SD for three years before moving to Rapid City in 1964. After a year of selling insurance he returned to education as the Athletic Director of Douglas High School, which was followed by five years as the principal of North Junior High, two years at South Junior High and ultimately, his dream job as principal of Central High School. After following a self-imposed limitation of staying at a school for no more than five years, he spent 18 years at the helm of Central High School as he felt that any other job in education was a demotion. He was a much admired principal by staff and students alike and was a constant presence at nearly every activity occurring at Central High School during and following his time as principal. Perhaps his favorite greeting in the world started with “oh, you were my principal at…” No one ever embodied the idea of “Once a Cobbler, always a Cobbler” more than Mr. Coates.

Upon retirement, he continued his full-time job as “Grandad” to not only his own seven grandchildren but to countless numbers of the grandchildren’s teammates. He and wife Charollene logged thousands of miles (and went through three vans) attending graduations, athletic contests, musical performances and plays. No one ever enjoyed his/her grandchildren more than Mr. Coates.

He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Charollene of Rapid City; brother Gailen Coates of Mitchell; sons Mike of Fargo, ND, Kerry (Peggy) and Kip (Mary) both of Rapid City. He has seven grandchildren: granddaughters Stacey (Andy) Currie, Kristi (Lance) Roetman, and Lindsay Boyd and grandsons Kelly, Casey, Riley, and Keith Coates. He also has four great-grandchildren: Kaden & Kaci Currie and Kylar & Keelie Roetman.

Visitation will be at Kirk Funeral Home in Rapid City on Tues., Dec. 10 from 5pm to 7pm, and then at the church for one hour before services on Wednesday.

Services are set for 11am Wed., Dec. 11, 2013 at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Rapid City with the Rev. Bob Jacobs officiating. A reception and luncheon will follow at the church. Interment with honors by VFW Post 1273 & SD Army National Guard will be at 2pm on Wednesday at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis.

A memorial has been established to the Keith J. Coates College Scholarship and to Westminster Presbyterian Church. Friends may sign Keith’s online guestbook at