Charles J. Coates 1949 - 2020

Charles Jeoffrey Coates, aged 70, passed away at home in McMinnville, Oregon, with his family by his side after a long battle with cancer. He was born October 25,1949, in Twin Falls, Idaho, to Jack and Sue (Browne) Coates. Charlie grew up in Buhl, Idaho, and graduated from BHS in 1968. He developed his lifelong love of basketball by playing on the high school team. His father worked in construction, and his mother was a licensed practical nurse. Charlie was a third-generation Idahoan, as his grandparents were among the earliest settlers in southern Idaho.

Charlie married Sandra Van Wormer in 1972, having just graduated from Boise State College (now Boise State University) with a major in social work. He went on to earn a Master’s Degree from Washington State University in the field of Child Development. Charlie obtained his teaching certificate from Eastern Washington University, and his special education certification from the University of Washington. He worked in special education for 30 years, teaching children from preschool through high school, including children with many types of disabilities. Charlie taught primarily in Bremerton and Central Kitsap school districts in western Puget Sound. He loved teaching children and seeing the growth they made through his efforts.

Charlie retired from Central Kitsap School District in 2013 and moved from Silverdale, Washington, to McMinnville. Here he discovered the joy of volunteering. His volunteer activities included the McMinnville Public Library, the Smart Reading Program and the Red Cross. He loved working in the bookmobile and doing craft projects with children during the summer months, as well as reading with kindergarten students. But his main focus was in his work at Miller Woods. Charlie thrived in the outdoor setting and developed strong friendships while working at the nature preserve.

Charlie is survived by his wife, Sandra; his two daughters, Karyn Matthews of Marietta, Georgia, and Naven Salahi of McMinnville; his two grandsons, Aidan and Alex Matthews; as well as his sister, Josephine McNickle of McMinnville; his brother, Ralph Coates of Decatur, Georgia; and three nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and older brother, Michael. Charlie was able to escort Naven down the aisle at her wedding two weeks before his passing.

The memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m. August 22, 2020, at Miller Woods. A link is available at the Miller Woods website for donations in his name. The address is To leave condolences, visit


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