Life Story / Obituary
Glenn Richard Coates, age 97, passed away Thursday, July 16, 2020 at this home. He was born in Thorp, Wisconsin on June 8, 1923, son of Alma (Née: Borck) and Richard Coates. He graduated as valedictorian from Thorp High School in 1940, completed four semesters at Milwaukee State Teachers College, and one semester at the University of Minnesota Law School before World War II interrupted his education. During the war he served in the US Army Signal Corp while stationed in the Pacific Theatre..
On June 24, 1944 he was married to Dolores Milburn, of Duluth, MN. They were married for more than 75 years, and, after the war ended, they were never apart until her death on January 21, 2020.
Following the war, Glenn attended the University of Wisconsin Law School, LLB, 1949, SJD, 1953. In the completion of his LLB degree, he was published in the UW Law Review and was admitted to the Order of the Coif. Post-graduation, he received a grant from the UW College of Agriculture to study Wisconsin agricultural water use, alongside Wisconsin’s and various other states’ water and irrigation laws, and to present recommendations. His study was instrumental in the adoption of a comprehensive regime of statutes governing agricultural water use in the State of Wisconsin. Later, he received a Carnegie Fellowship to complete his thesis on Chattel Secured Farm Credit in Wisconsin. This coincided with the nationwide adoption of the Uniform Commercial Code, and Glenn became the recognized national expert on the “law-in-action” application of the UCC to farm finances. He spoke and wrote widely on the subject, and was admitted to the American Law Institute at the age of 32. He was Chairman of the Wisconsin Judicial Council from 1969-1972, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the State Bar in 1973-1974, and President of the Racine County Bar Association in 1975-1976.
Glenn and Dolores settled in Racine in 1952, and stayed here for the remainder of their lives. Glenn practiced law here, representing Racine clients in private practice, and later as General Counsel for Racine Federated, Inc., until he finally retired in his mid-eighties. He was on the Board of Directors of Pioneer Savings and Loan and Racine Federated, Inc.
Glenn served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of St. Luke’s Memorial Hospital from 1973-1976. He was President of the Racine Area United Way from 1979-1981. He served on the Board of Curators of the State Historical Society from 1986-2001, and as President of the Wisconsin State Historical Society, 1995-1997, and was designated Emeritus Curator in 2010. He was on the Board of Directors of the Racine Community Foundation, 1983-1989. He also served on Boards of Directors of the Wisconsin History Foundation, 1983-1999; the Historic Sites Foundation, 1987-1989; St Luke’s Hospital & St. Mary’s Medical Center Healthcare Foundation, 1992-1996. Over the years he served in a host of governance functions for First United Methodist Church. In 1981, Glenn was named “Citizen of the Year” by Racine VFW Post 1391, an award he shares with a remarkable group of Racine’s leaders.
Glenn was a romantic; he wore his love for his wife on his sleeve always. He was an avid supporter of the University of Wisconsin, and a huge Badger football fan. He was a kind father. And he loved martinis.
Glenn will be dearly missed by his son Richard W. Coates; daughter Cristie Leto, and son-in-law Anthony Leto; grandchildren Ellison Coates; Glenn C. (Lauren) Coates; Richard V. Leto; Robert M. Leto; Anna J. Leto, and great-grandchildren Truman and Roxy Coates, other relatives and many dear friends and colleagues. In addition to his parents, Glenn was preceded in death by his brothers Merlin (Virginia) Coates, and Raymond (Doris) Coates, and his sister Roxy (Tom) Larson.
Private interment will be held at West Lawn Memorial Park. Memorials to University of Wisconsin Foundation, 1848 University Ave., Madison, WI53726 or Racine Community Foundation, 1135 Warwick Way #200, Racine, WI 53406 have been suggested.
The family wishes to extend a very special thank you to Aurora at Home Hospice, especially Holly, and to LeAnne DeBoer for her loving and compassionate care.