Edward Hodge Coale, formerly of Bronxville, New York; Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Boca Grande passed away peacefully on January 2, 2018, in Mamaroneck, New York. He was 97 years old.
Ed was born on September 1, 1920 in Upper Montclair, N.J. to Mary Carroll Hodge and Sidney Thompson Coale. When Ed was just seven years old, his father died suddenly, an event that profoundly informed the way Ed would move through the world throughout his life: Resilient and creative in the face of adversity; intrepid leader; quintessential optimist; endlessly grateful and kind.
During the Great Depression Ed, his mother and his siblings, Sid (1919-1982) and Natalie (1926-2002) sailed in a cargo ship to France, where they lived for a year in Tours – and where Ed became an unabashed francophile and impassioned world traveler; he spoke fluent French his entire life.
After graduating from Montclair High School, Ed attended Princeton University, graduating in 1942 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He retained an abiding love for, and devotion to, the university, acting as class secretary for many years and orchestrating reunions. Ed went to every annual class reunion until he was unable to travel. Marching in the traditional yearly ‘ P-rade ‘ with his family and classmates was something he utterly adored. Ed entered the U.S. Navy shortly after his college graduation, serving in the South Pacific during WWll, where he met Byron ‘By’ Carlson, who was to become his lifelong, dearest friend. Ed’s tales of living in Quonset huts in New Caledonia and Bougainville he told with enormous fondness all his life.
Following the war, Ed moved to New York and began his distinguished career as a frozen food executive, a career that took him to places like Denmark and Hong Kong and his beloved France. It was in Manhattan that Ed fell in love with and, in 1952, married Mary ‘Holly’ Bacon Hollis , a Dana Hall and Bradford College graduate. The couple eventually settled in Bronxville, N.Y., where they spent ten glorious years raising their three children – Skipwith, Linny and Ned – just streets away from By and his wife, Jane, and their clan.
When Ed started his own business, Readi-Bake International, Inc. in 1970 – after several years working as a general manager for Nabisco in New York City (and prior to that, stints at Minute Maid and Seabring Farms) – he moved the family to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where parents and kids alike were seduced by the beauty of Lake Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. As transplanted New Yorkers, Ed and Holly embraced their new identities as Michiganders, plunging into civic and social life in the Great Lakes state, all the while navigating the joys and challenges of parenting teenagers.
In the late 1970s, Ed and Holly discovered the magic of Gasparilla Island in Florida, on which they subsequently built a house and happily wintered for decades, pursuing their golf and tennis games, cherishing the charms of the gulf and day to day life in Boca Grande.
Ed was deeply engaged with all the communities in which he lived, in addition to the world at large.
A few things from the extensive list of his community and professional volunteer contributions are: An elder at The Reformed Church of Bronxville; served on the board of directors for Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids; co-founder of the Lemon Bay Golf Club in Englewood, Florida; president of the American Frozen Food Association. Unfailingly generous of his time, Ed was a living example of what it means to give back. Wherever Ed resided, he ardently extended himself into the local social fabric.
He relished the time he spent with friends and family as a member of a wide array of clubs, including: The Princeton Club of New York City; Shenorock Shore Club in Rye, New York; The Field Club in Bronxville; Kent Country Club in Grand Rapids; The Pass Club and The Boca Grande Club on Gasparilla Island.
After Ed and Holly’s 45 year marriage ended Ed met Maryjane Schaefer, a Grand Rapidian and Wellsley graduate. They married in 1998 and enjoyed much of their 16 years together skiing, hosting large family gatherings, and traveling the globe.
Known for his astonishing eloquence and fierce intellect—he could still recite and discuss ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ as a nonagenarian – Ed was possessed of great wit and a wry sense of humor. An intense lover of song, he belonged to the Boca Grande Barbershop Group and reveled in regularly singing favorite ditties with family members.
‘Life is a dance, you learn as you go!’ This was one of Ed’s mantras, along with ‘Life is for living!’ He viewed the glass as half full, always, and his zeal for so much in the world – the written word, travel, sailing, tennis, golf, ideas, music, friendship, family – was infectious.
Ever the consummate gentleman, Ed was, even with a fracturing mind and declining body, unflaggingly concerned with the comfort and well-being of others. His beautiful, brilliant, elegant, mischievous, sweet, inspiring spirit will be achingly missed by all those who knew and loved him.
Ed is survived by his three children, for whom it was an honor to have him as a father: Skipwith Coale (David); Linny Freeman (Mark); and Dr. Ned Coale (Marty); and seven grandchildren, who feel blessed to have had the good fortune to know their awesome grandpa through young adulthood that include Coale and Hart; Michelle (Geoff Fasen) and Robby; Ted, Ellie and Olivia.