Early today, November 17, 2014, a true leader of the antiques car industry and hobby has died. Harold Coker started his tire business and his collection of forms and molds are the reason so many antique and collector cars even have tires on which to run! He began his career as a territory manager with the old B.F.Goodrich Tire Co. before starting his own business, Coker Tire Co., in 1958, leading the company to become the largest supplier of collector car tires and wheels in the world. He was one of the founders of the Athens, TN American Antique Car Association and a true friend to car enthusiasts and professional around the world!
Here is the obituary from http://www.chattanoogan.com/
With his loving family by his side, Harold Coker went to be with his faithful Savior, Jesus Christ, on Sunday morning, November 16, 2014.
Harold was born on Christmas Eve in 1929 in a log cabin in Cherokee, North Carolina to Hardy and Ethel Coker. The first of his family to receive a college education, Harold graduated from Tennessee Wesleyan College in 1949 with an associate degree in chemical engineering, also graduating from Tennessee Tech in 1951 with a BS in chemistry. Shortly after college, Harold fell in love with a beautiful girl named Lillian Thomas of Athens, Tennessee in 1951, and married her on September 6, 1953.
An avid car enthusiast from a young age, Harold was one of the founding members of the AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America) chapter in Athens, in 1957 and eventually became the National AACA Club President in 1972. He started his business career as a territory manager with the B.F. Goodrich Tire Company and later starting his own business, Coker Tire Company, in Athens, in 1958 with the help of a loan from his parents (they sold their home to lend him the money). After moving his fledgling tire business to Chattanooga in 1961, Coker’s success led his company to become the largest supplier of collector car tire and wheels in the world. In 1985, he served as president of the National Tire Dealers and Re-Treaders Association eventually being inducted recently into the group’s Hall of Fame.
Harold served his nation in the National Guard achieving the rank of lieutenant. He was a long time, active member of Woodland Park Baptist Church. Harold Coker served on the Hamilton County Commission for over 20 years serving three terms as chairman in 1986, 1995 and 1999. He was often referred to as the father of the local Hamilton County Republican Party serving as one of its most active and successful county chairmen. While on the County Commission, Harold was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission. He was also president of the Pachyderm Club of Chattanooga. He and wife, Lill, worked diligently to elect conservatives in Hamilton County with the local GOP ultimately succeeding by electing a majority of GOP officeholders in county government. Harold ran for the United States Congress in 1988. He served most recently as an active board of directors member of Chattanooga’s Electric Power Board. In 2006, he received the Entrepreneur of the Year award from UTC. Harold assisted and was instrumental in negotiating to get the VAAP property into the hands of Hamilton County government. The VAAP (Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant) ultimately became the new home of the Volkswagen manufacturing facility. He was an active member of the Chattanooga Freedom’s Foundation and received the Spirit of ’76 award.
Harold was preceded in death by his parents, Hardy (Pop) and Ethel Coker, his youngest brother Bill Coker, and infant grandson, Jason Coker.
He is survived by his devoted wife of 61 years, Lillian (Thomas) Coker, and younger brother, Bob (Linda) Coker. He is also survived by his children, including Corky (Theresa) Coker, Christie (Jerry) Bowen, David (Kathy) Coker; his seven grandchildren: Casey (Greg) Cunningham, Nathan Bowen, Lauren (Jonathan Davis) Bowen, Cameron Coker, Kelly (John) Jacobs, Rachel (Brandon) Remmert, and Katie (Stefan Hanley) Coker. Four great-grandsons include Taylor, Joseph and Benjamin Cunningham, and Harper Jacobs.
Visitation will be at Chattanooga Funeral Home East, 404 S. Moore Road, on Tuesday, Nov. 18, from 3-7:30 p.m. The family will have a private graveside service.
The public is invited to a Celebration of Life service, officiated by Dr. Wayne Barber, on Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Woodland Park Baptist Church, 6735 Standifer Gap Road.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the Woodland Park Baptist Church Building Fund, 6735 Standifer Gap Road, Chattanooga, Tn. 37421, or the Family Action Counsel of Tennessee, 2479 Murfreesboro Road, Number 362, Nashville, Tn. 37179-3554.
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