John Howard Coles, IV

Born in Nashville, TN on November 26, 1956

Departed on September 25, 2010 and resided in Franklin, TN

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COLES, John Howard IV – Age 53 of Franklin. Died on Saturday at St. Thomas Hospital after suffering sudden cardiac arrest while officiating Friday's Montgomery Bell Academy-McCallie game. John officiated high school and college football games for three decades, including high school and college championship games, and he died doing what he loved most besides spending time with his family. He earned tremendous respect as a football umpire and treated players and coaches alike with respect and compassion. He was also known for a sense of humor that could break the tension of any situation. John was born in Nashville on Nov. 26, 1956 and graduated from David Lipscomb High School and Lipscomb University, earning a degree in political science. He married Lois Elkins in 1980 and they have two children, John Howard Coles, V., 27, and Robert Martin Coles, 23. He was senior project manager for HKS Inc. in Franklin. He lived a rich, full life and found joy in everything he did, whether it was spending time with his family at their Center Hill Lake cabin, hunting and fishing with son Johnny, attending son Robert's plays or teasing dear friend John Griswold. He was a big man whose imposing physique was matched by his irresistible personality and a laugh that was a highlight at every family gathering. Mr. Coles is survived by his wife, Lois Elkins Coles; his sons, John H. Coles, V and Robert Coles; his parents, Dr. John H. Coles III and Barbara Dickson Hughes; his step mother, Gloria Coles; his sisters, Lynne Coles and Lisa Coles Alexander and her husband Dr. Clay Alexander; his step siblings, Beverly Keel, Susan Keel and Bill Keel; his parents-in-law, Robert and Faye Elkins. Visitation will be 3-8 p.m. Tuesday at Harpeth Hills Funeral Home, 9090 Highway 100. The funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the funeral home's chapel. Honorary pallbearers are the Middle Tennessee Football Officials Association, the Mid-South Conference Football Officials, Mike McMillen, Doug Sanders, Alan Johnson, Russell Pearl, Judge Steve Dosier, Jay Gore, Kevin Doak, Bayron Binkley, Gary Green, George Tucker, Jim Kay and John Rutledge. Pallbearers will be Doug Clark, Curt Chesley, John Griswold, David Harper, Mike Jones, David Mason, Joe Gray and Tim Pardue. In lieu of flowers, make donations to the American Heart Association.

22 Comments to John Howard Coles, IV

  1. Debra D. Pritchett
    September 26, 2010 12:00 am

    Lois & boys:
    John was a favorite traveling companion of mine for years at GB&A – and you should know that the ONLY thing he loved more than refereeing football was his family! Know you are feeling his loss but please remember that he loved you all dearly and told wonderful funny stories about your family all of the time. Am traveling again this week so I will not be able to attend John’s service but I will be praying for you all that God will give you the strengths you will need during this most difficult time.
    Debra Pritchett

  2. Liz Woodward Brown
    September 26, 2010 12:00 am

    I knew John from DLC and I was a little sister to Kappa Phi. He was a great guy with a wonderful smile. May you find comfort and peace in the following days.

  3. Michelle Adams
    September 26, 2010 12:00 am

    Lois, Johnny, and Robby,

    My thoughts and prayers are with you during this time. I truly loved working with John at GB&A, as he certainly made each day a little brighter. May you have peace and comfort knowing that he left this earth doing one of the things that he loved most.

  4. Al & Nancy Alexander
    September 26, 2010 12:00 am

    We were so very saddened to hear about John’s passing. Lisa Alexanderour sister-in-lawhas always spoken so highly of her brother. Please know that all the Alexanders send their most heartfelt thoughts and prayers.
    Al & Nancy Alexander

  5. Richard Yadon
    September 26, 2010 12:00 am

    I had the distinct pleasure of officiating games with John over the past 12 years. Whenever I had a game scheduled with John, it was always a highlight of the sesson. Not only was he a highly respected, competent, and professional football official, he was great fun to be around. His stories of humorous events from past games were always entertaining.

    It is a great honor to have shared the field with him during his final game. A part of John will always be with me each time to put on the stripes. My prayers are with his family. My hope is that once again I will take the field with John in eternity.

  6. Beverly Odum
    September 26, 2010 12:00 am

    Lois and boys:
    My thoughts and prayers are with you in your time of grief. I had the pleasure of working w/John when I was at HCA and then several years at GB&A. He was a joy to be around and made the long days of travel, delayed flights, etc. so much more enjoyable. Please remember that a part of John has been left at many hospitals all over this great country because of his expertise and hard work. I am truly blessed to have him as part of my history. May his memories bring you comfort.

  7. Jermaine Boyd
    September 27, 2010 12:00 am

    Lois, John V, and Robert,

    My thoughts and prayers are with you. John served as a great mentor to me in officiating. His words of encouragement and lessons will always be with me.

    Continue to look to the Lord for strength.

  8. Kathy Seacrist
    September 27, 2010 12:00 am

    Dear Lois, Johnny & Robby,
    I had the pleasure to meet and work with John at GB&A for several years. Please know my heart felt thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this tme and for the months to come. Stay strong in your faith and God will see you through this time of need in your lives.

  9. Melody Nicely
    September 27, 2010 12:00 am

    Lois, Johnny & Robby,
    I had the pleasure of working with John twice….at GB&A and HKS. John was a great guy and will be missed alot. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your loved ones.

  10. David Meech
    September 27, 2010 12:00 am

    Lois, Johnny and Robby,
    John was one of the funniest men I have ever met. His humor and personality was contagious. He always brought light into the room when he was involved on an assignment. I worked with John when he was at GBA and I was with GSP and then later when he joined GSP and I was in Charlotte with GSP. I was fasinated by the fact he was a football referee and we would talk endlessly about his games and how he would recall particular plays and calls he had to make. He was a special husband and father and he let everyone he met know how proud he was of his family. My prayers are with all of you during this time. I know he left his legacy in good hands with Johnny and Robby. God bless you all.

    David Meech, Charlotte NC

  11. Terry Esquibell
    September 27, 2010 12:00 am

    Dear Lois, Johnny, Robby,

    I was so sorry to hear about John. Your Dad and I traveled together on many a trip when we both worked at GBA. Our traveling conversations always came around to “his boys” and how proud a Father he was. After I became a Father our conversations about kids got even longer.

    John always told me that I should teach my daughter to hunt. My daughter got to meet John and saw all the “stuffed animals” on his office wall. Victoria never developed the urge to go hunting but she was always asking me what “Big John” had stuffed lately.

    Me and Victoria and my wife Angie all miss Big John. Our prayers are with you. Your Dad was special.

  12. Peggy Rouillier CFP
    September 27, 2010 12:00 am


    John spoke so highly of you and the boys, my prayers are with you.

    Peggy Rouillier Private Wealth Advisor Securities America Inc 615-662-2885

  13. Nancy Siler
    September 27, 2010 12:00 am

    Lois, My heart and prayers are with you durig this very sad time. I remember when he asked you who that crazy lady was that called about a state game every 15 minutes. Each time he was always gracious and gave me the score. We must remember that God has infinite wisdom; May He provide you and your family comfort.

  14. Frank Platt
    September 27, 2010 12:00 am

    Lois, Although it’s been a while since John & I spoke, I have fond memories of him. I fully remember the first time John and I met him in the early 80s. John always had an eveness about him that was a comfort to those around him. God bless you and your boys. My prayers are with you. Frank

  15. Jennifer Nard Nugent
    September 27, 2010 12:00 am

    Oh what horribly sad news. John always was, and always will be, one of my favorite people. He was so full of life and humor and kindness. I remember him helping me fix a flat — he got his white shirt dirty and since he was on his way to a meeting — he sat in the office in his pants and tie til his shirt dried. Another day he was instructing me how to bind a document … for 20 years we laughed about his riveting description. I hope he felt no pain in his passing. The world is a sadder place. My best wishes to you all.

  16. Rachel Irick
    September 27, 2010 12:00 am

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Robby was one of my favorite students of all time, and I’m heartbroken that he and his family are dealing with such a tragedy. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  17. Tim and Holly Anthony
    September 28, 2010 12:00 am

    Lois..We were saddened by the news, and our hearts and prayers are with you and your family. Please let us know if there is anything great or small we can do for you. With Love,

  18. Donna Finney
    September 28, 2010 12:00 am

    I was so sad to hear of John’s passing–He was so strong and full of life. We always enjoyed our talks and his attitude was always good and “what’s next” memories.

  19. Dee White
    September 28, 2010 12:00 am

    Lois, Johnny and Robby:

    My thoughts and prayers are with you all at this very sad time in your lives. John, his humor & laughter will be missed by many. Hang onto your memories and know that he loved you all dearly.

  20. Robert Gibson
    September 28, 2010 12:00 am

    Dear Lois,

    How saddened we were to hear of John’s passing. We take comfort in the fact that a part of him will continue to live, reflected in the lives of the students he knew and guided. Those kids who were fortunate enough to fall under his tutelage will carry his ideals, his knowledge, and his moral principles into the world, and the world cannot help but be a better place for it.

    Our hearts are with you at this most difficult of times.

    With deepest sympathy,

  21. Charles Bell
    November 16, 2010 12:00 am

    I had the pleasure of meeting John over 25 years ago and worked with him on several projects over the years. It was a true pleasure to have worked with John and he will dearly be missed. May God be with his family and friends through these sad times.

  22. Kevin Hebblethwaite
    November 29, 2010 12:00 am

    I’m so sorry to hear about John’s passing. We had the opportunity to get to know each other as professional peers in technology systems design. I would always try to look up John anytime I came to Nashville – he would always make time if he had it. I loved his stories about being an NCAA official. Kudos to him for continuing to live out his passions. I should also thank John for introducing me to Bullfrog Wine!

    To John’s family: May the Peace of God continue to comfort you in your loss.