Obituary for Herbert Gehrig Coleman
Herbert Gehrig (Gehrig) Coleman, 64, died Friday, January 12, at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City of a ruptured aorta. Gehrig was a talented writer and orator, and an enthusiastic scholar of music, history, and culture. He was a champion of diversity, and people of all races and social classes were his friends.
He was born November 15, 1953, in Chillicothe, Missouri to Billy Smiley Coleman and Charlene Walz Coleman. He graduated from Chillicothe High School in 1972, salutatorian of his class, and was one of two students who gave the first student Commencement addresses. He was an Eagle Scout, and an accomplished snake dancer
In the Mic-O-Say tribe. He scheduled the dance bands for the Community Youth Club, Kiva, recruiting some of the top bands in the Midwest.
Following high school Gehrig was named one of two top science scholars in the state of Missouri, enabling him to attend National Science Camp. There he connected with a camp counselor who was a Stanford medical student, and joined him on a gap year trip to Egypt, Kenya, and Tanzania. Among his adventures that year, he worked at the Mikumi Wildlife Camp in Nairobi for several months. Then he attended Rice University in Houston, Texas, graduating cum laude with a B.A. in 1978. He earned an M.A. from the University of Texas at Austin in 1992. He taught a popular course at U.T. on the History of Baseball.
Gehrig taught high school English and history in Missouri schools at Hume, Versailles, Chillicothe, Cameron, and Kansas City, and coached high school and junior high sports in several of those schools. He was a spirited, ardent cook, and had a teaching career interlude as the operator of Coleman’s Grill at the Chillicothe Country Club.
Gehrig was passionate about sports, especially baseball, honoring his namesake, Lou Gehrig. He was a part of the talented high school football team in Chillicothe under Bob Fairchild’s leadership from 1969-1971 that won one state championship. Gehrig’s competitive spirit, love of baseball, and gift for teaching were all exemplified in the domain of fantasy baseball. As much as he fulfilled his mantra “Play to win,” he was passionate about good competition, which he fostered by teaching analysis and strategy to others. His ultimate baseball creation was The Lumpe League, named for the Chillicothe native who played professional baseball with the Kansas City Athletics. Gehrig played the role of Commissioner Satch as he recruited league members, wrote the constitution, arbitrated disputes, and especially, wrote volumes of commentary.
Preceded in death by his parents, Gehrig is survived by sisters Cathy Coleman of Sonoma, California, and Paula Coleman Hubbard of South Bend, Indiana, and a brother, Rob Coleman of Merrillville, Indiana, and by nieces and nephews Elias Jacobson, Sophia Metzner, Kirk and Shawna Hubbard, and Devinne, Robbie, and KC Coleman. He supported his nieces and nephews in their education, interests, and life journeys.
A memorial service will be held at the United Methodist Church in Chillicothe, Missouri, on Monday, January 15, at 11:00 a.m. Burial will follow in Edgewood Cemetery.