Harold “Hal” Burt Coleman, 92, died Sept. 27, 2015 in Peoria, AZ of acute myeloid leukemia. Hal was born in Boyne City, MI December 14, 1922, an only child of Erie and Harold Coleman. Hal spent many summers camping on Green Lake in the 20’s and 30’s, near the family farm in Buckley, MI. As a young man, he lived and visited his grandparents in Traverse City, and one of his first jobs was as a caddie for the prestigious Traverse City Golf and Country Club.
He attended the University of Michigan until WWII interrupted his schooling. In the military as a combat infantryman, he earned 3 purple hearts, a Bronze Star, a Silver Star and a Presidential Citation. We brag about him, but he never would. It is just what his generation did.
After the war he completed his degree at U of M, but he always continued his education. He went on to receive a Master Degree in Math and Physics, a MBA and a PhD.
Soon after the war, he met the first love of his life, his wife to be Peg, along with two beautiful little girls, Peggy Ann and Patricia – a wonderful package of three. Tragedy struck them when little Peggy Ann died in 1953. They lived close to their families in Detroit and he started his long career as an aerospace engineer specializing in missile and space guidance and aviation systems. In this capacity he designed the guidance rockets for the Apollo Space Craft. He also directed and developed systems for air to surface missiles, cruise missiles, and other defensive missiles. His family grew by two more when Billy and Jayne were added. It was then that his career took him to California.
While many would consider such a rich career enough, Hal started a second career in the early 1970’s when he began working with the DOT and FAA . He worked with these governmental programs for the next 29 years, working well into his seventies.
But Hal was not all work. He was also known for his annual Christmas/Birthday parties. He always said it was not his birthday party, but we knew better. He had 62 continues – annual Christmas parties, all over the United States. From Virginia to California, he never missed a year.
In 2003 he lost the spark in his eye, Peg. Then God sent him Marlyn, his next love. When they married in 2007, his family ballooned with all of her family. His life became full of new birthdays, weddings, and celebrations. Not only did they need each other, they were good for each other. A perfect match.
The two of them did not have enough time before a short severe illness took him back to God. He felt a great comfort and peace knowing that he was a born-again Christian. With this knowledge in his heart, he passed away peacefully with his wife, Marlyn at his side.
Hal is survived by his wife Marlyn Derby-Coleman; daughters Patricia Coleman and Jayne (Michael) Johnson; son William (Barbara) Coleman; four grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild, Erica Coleman, Alex Coleman, Robyn Johnson, Sierra Coleman-Pancoast and Stefanie Cooley. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Margaret Coleman and daughter, Peggy Anne Coleman.
A funeral service will be held 2:00 pm Friday Oct 2, 2015 at PebbleCreek’s Eagle’s Nest Golf Club, 3645 Clubhouse Drive, Goodyear, AZ 85395. A service will also be held 11:00 am Wednesday Oct. 7, 2015 at Reynolds Jonkhoff Funeral Home, 305 6th St, Traverse City, MI 49684. Interment will be in the Oakwood Cemetery, Traverse City, MI. Arrangements are under the direction of Thompson Funeral Chapel and Reynolds Jonkhoff Funeral Home