On the day that Abner died (II Samuel 3:38), a broken-hearted King David proclaimed that “a great man and a prince had fallen in Israel”… It seemed that the whole nation was going about their lives as though nothing had happened. This grieved the king immensely.
Early last Sunday morning (July 2, 2017), Bladen County lost a great man and a prince when the Rev. Don Coley (age 87) passed away peacefully at his home in Cape Owen Manor. While I realize that Rev. Coley’s death did not make the front page headlines, it was recognized as a day of great loss for all that knew him. His accomplishments were many — Marine of 20 years, minister of 40 years, husband of 70 years to Mrs. Mary, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, mentor, friend.
Mr. Coley was part of the “Greatest Generation”, and I submit that he was one of the greatest of the great. He served our nation in Vietnam and Korea, He served as a pastor in numerous churches in Bladen County and beyond, he served as a roll-model to countless pastors. All of these accomplishments with a mere eighth-grade education.
Personally, I owe a debt of gratitude to Rev. Don Coley. It was Rev. Coley who convinced a traditional Baptist Church in Dublin to call a 26 year old novice to be their pastor and it was Rev. Coley that convinced a reluctant young preacher boy to move his family to Dublin.
Seventeen years later, it is quite obvious that God was directing Rev. Coley’s steps as he played a spiritual match-maker back in 2000. My life, and the lives of scores of other people were touched by the example set by Rev. Don and Mrs. Mary Coley and we will never forget the day that “a great man and a prince fell.”
I am grateful to know that even though few recognized his passing, Heaven certainly rejoiced; for precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints (Psalm 116:15). Yeah, that’s the word that best described the Don Coley I knew — “precious.”
Cameron McGill is pastor of Dublin First Baptist Church and Lake Church in White Lake.