Story Headline: Former City Leader Robert Coleman Dead at Age 88
Author: West Kentucky Star Staff

Long time public servant Robert Coleman of Paducah died on Friday.

Paducah NAACP President J. W. Cleary posted on Facebook that Coleman and his wife Connie, “Loved Paducah and their church - Washington Street Missionary Baptist Church.”

Posts on social media by family members indicate that Robert's wife, Connie, passed away on November 10.

Robert Coleman was 88 years old, and was City Commissioner from 1974 until 2008, with only two interruptions in his service: Between 1975-78 and from 1991-94. 

Coleman was forced to withdraw from his campaign against Gayle Kaler in the 2012 general election for Mayor of Paducah due to a longer than expected recovery from a surgery. 

Born in Hopkinsville, Coleman was a veteran of the US Air Force and was a postal carrier in Paducah. He was the first African American president of the Paducah hall of the National Association of Letter Carriers. He was also the first to chair the executive board of the state association.

In 2005, Coleman was inducted into the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights Hall of Fame. In 2009, Blackburn Park in Paducah was renamed Robert Coleman Park in his honor.
McCracken County Commissioner Bill Bartleman covered local politics during his career at the Paducah Sun, and says Coleman  was an intelligent and dedicated public servant. 

"He opened many doors to ensure that African Americans were treated fairly and equally with others in getting jobs and receiving equal treatment," Bartleman said. "Robert was not radical or overbearing in his approach to equal rights, but spoke with reason and fairness. He made his points with facts and intellect, not violence or hatred."

Bartleman said Coleman never sought publicity or recognition, but quietly mentored and influenced others to make everyone's lives better. 

"He will be missed, but his death will not end his legacy," Bartleman said.

Published: Saturday, November 21, 2020 12:06 AM
Updated: Saturday, November 21, 2020 11:05 PM