Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Terry Jay Coker
May 18, 1943 – October 5, 2020
Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Terry Jay Coker, a resident of Naples, Florida, died Monday, October 5, 2020, after an extended illness. Visitation was Sunday, October 18th, at Leak Memory Chapel in Montgomery, Alabama, with a celebration of life graveside memorial service following at Greenwood Cemetery.
Upon graduation from Tallassee High School in 1961, Lt. Col. Coker earned a bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the United States Air Force from Auburn University in 1966; and he earned a Master’s Degree in System’s Management from the University of Southern California in 1974.
Lt. Col. Coker’s military educational background includes the Transportation Officer’s Basic and Advanced Courses, the Army Command and General Staff College, and numerous procurement courses. His assignments included duties as a Squadron Section Commander in the U.S.
Air Force; and helicopter pilot, instructor pilot, aircraft maintenance officer, and procurement officer in the U.S. Army. Lt. Col. Coker served a combat tour in Vietnam in 1969 – 1970 with the 1st Calvary Division (Air-Mobile).
He retired from the U.S. Army on June 30, 1986. During his active military service, Lt. Col. Coker’s decorations and badges were numerous. He earned a Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious
Service Medal with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and a Master Army Aviator Badge.
Upon retirement, Lt. Col. Coker served as the Senior Army Instructor at several high schools: Cypress Lake (1986 – 1989), Goshen (1989 – 1992), and Barron Collier (1992 – 1998), and began the JROTC Program at Gulf Coast (1998 – 2009). During his tenure in Collier County, Lt. Col. Coker’s cadets at both Barron Collier and Gulf Coast High Schools earned the designation of Honor Unit with Distinction during every Cadet Command Formal Inspection. Seven cadets were awarded Senior ROTC Scholarships and 8 cadets received appointments to Service Academics with 4 being West Point. His goal was to motivate and give direction to young people to become better Americans by emphasizing citizenship, leadership, and patriotism.
Lt. Col. Coker was a devoted family man, and always made time for his family. He is survived by his daughter Ashley B. Coker of Naples, Florida; two sisters Brenda C. (Larry) Bryant of Tupelo, Mississippi and Shelia C. (Jim) Scarborough of Auburn, Alabama; one niece Alison B.
Huckaby and three nephews S. Matt Coker, Andy S. Coker, and Chris M. Bryant and their families. Lt. Col.. Coker was preceded in death by his wife of almost 50 years (August 22, 2020) Carol Sue Brown Coker (August 4, 2020); parents Mildred W. and Thurman J. Coker; brother S. Mike Coker; and in-laws Joyce G. and Orvis M. Brown.
The family wishes to give special thanks to Major and Mrs. Ruben González; Chief Warrant Officer (Ret.) Howard Rutizer and Major Laura Rutizer; Josh Pennington, Director of Nursing, and staff at Inspired Living at Bonita Springs; and the staff at Hope Hospice for their love, care, and compassion to our beloved father, brother, and uncle.
A Memorial JROTC Scholarship Fund has been established for Lt. Col. (Ret.) Terry J. Coker at Barron Collier and Gulf Coast High Schools. Contributions should be made to Barron Collier High School, attention Mrs. Peggy Garrett, 5600 Cougar Drive, Naples, Florida 34109.