Earl Ronald "Ronnie" Coleman, 88, passed away in Orlando, Florida on Sunday, October 3, 2021. He was a lifelong resident of Chattanooga, TN later adding Orlando, FL to his residency during the cold winter months of the year.
Born in Soddy, TN on March, 24, 1933, he later moved with his family to Cameron Hill in Chattanooga where many of his best childhood memories and lifelong friends were made. He attended Chattanooga High School where he played many sports and was voted Captain and MVP of his football team his senior year. He held the honor of becoming the school’s Student Body president that same year and was considered a leader who was likable, friendly, humble and kind.
He grew up a member of Second Presbyterian Church and became a man of quiet faith deeply rooted from the influence of his mother, Julia Coleman, who planted the seed of Jesus and God in her life and her family’s heart on a daily basis.
While attending the University of Chattanooga Ronald was drafted and entered the U.S. Marine Corps where he served as Private First Class earning a National Defense Service Medal. Ronald was honorably discharged in October of 1953.
His early work experience included Champion Spark Plugs and Sherman & Reilly. His entrepreneurial dreams led him to open up Chattanooga’s first coin operated car wash. He went on to become a licensed contractor and started Coleman Contracting Company which included the construction of several Krystal and Waffle House restaurants. Moving forward, he became owner/president of Ultimax (food) Distributors Inc. in Orlando where he created a small efficient business with a dedicated handful of employees and was soon awarded the INC 500 Award for the nation’s fastest growing companies followed by becoming part of Orlando’s Top 100 Golden private companies in 1996.
Later he had an interest in several Aaron Rents stores where he initiated the “Coats for Kids” program and was honored to have a scholarship named after him, “The Coleman Scholarship”, for continuing education for employees and their children.
He was a beloved member of Chattanooga’s Golf and Country Club as well as Orlando’s Bay Hill Club where his humble and private friendship with Arnie Palmer was a true treasure. His early love for sports later landed him in the game of golf where he enjoyed many years of playing as well as the travels, adventure and friendships it brought into his life. Ronnie found great joy in pulling off one more Member/Guest golf tournament at CGCC this last June of 2021 with his son-in-law Corry. This event was a highlight every year allowing him to play with a variety of friends including his childhood bestie, Robert Johnson.
Without a doubt his favorite interests included time spent with family at the beach house in Wilbur by the Sea, FL, picking up sticks as a family project or sunset chats on the porch or riding on his John Deere tractor pulling a bush hog behind to cut the field at the Coleman Cabin in LaFayette, GA. And, of course, his love of travel was boosted as he became the fortunate recipient of Delta Airlines' parent “passes” awarded through his daughter Betsy’s beloved flight attendant career.
He was a dreamer, an entrepreneur, a calculated risk taker, a friend to many and a giver to more. He had a deep love for family and a heart for others who needed a helping hand. He believed in hard work, starting from the bottom up and leaving something better than how you found it. He had a zeal and fight for life all the way up to the last couple of weeks of his life here on earth. He’s a fighter, a believer and a family man. His favorite role in life was definitely being “Papa” to his grandchildren and his great-granddaughter who kept him smiling, laughing and listening to her made up songs on the cabin front porch.
His favorite slang/phrase of encouragement was, “You done good”. Thank you Ronnie/Daddy/Papa. You did too. We all love you, will miss you but will see you again soon. “For the good times.”
Ronald was preceded in death by his parents, Julia S. and Earl W. Coleman, and his sister, Barbara Faye Lindsay and brother-in-law, Gilbert F. Lindsay.
He is survived by his daughters Betsy Coleman Rehmert (Dan Rehmert) of Dallas, TX, Susan Coleman Dickerson (Corry Dickerson) of Kennesaw, GA; family Donna Chiodo of Orlando, FL, Christopher Chiodo of Tampa, FL, Helen Thornton Coleman of Chattanooga, TN; Five grandchildren who know him as their beloved “Papa”: Cole Rehmert of Atlanta, GA, Zach Rehmert (Meredith Rehmert) of Houston, TX, Bennett Rehmert of Austin, TX, Kathryn Kelly Dickerson of Kennesaw, GA, Connor Dickerson of Kennesaw, GA and one great grandchild, Sophia Kelly Davis of Kennesaw, GA. Nieces and nephews include David Lindsay (Terri Lindsay) of Wilbur by the Sea, FL, Sarah Jane Lindsay of Mobile, AL and Thomas Lindsay (Christy Lindsay) of Signal Mountain, TN. And many great-nieces and great-nephews.
A private service for the family will be held at the Chattanooga National Cemetery at 1 p.m. on Thursday, October 14. (Family: enter through the entrance off of Holtzclaw Avenue and turn right to meet a few minutes before 1:00)
A Celebration of Life reception and receiving of friends will be held at 2 p.m. on Thursday, October 14, at the Chattanooga Golf and Country Club, 1511 Riverview Road, Chattanooga, TN.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in support of one of two organizations in dads memory: The Chattanooga Marines Toys for Tots program or the Chattanooga Rescue Mission. https://chattanooga-tn.toysfortots.org/ or http://www.chattanoogarescuemission.com/ Thank you.
Please share your thoughts and memories at www.chattanooganorthchapel.com.