Buckner Coe

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Dec. 11, 1924-May 11, 2018


The Reverend Buckner Coe of Lake Forest and Laguna Beach passed away peacefully May 11, 2018, surrounded by his beloved wife, Judy, and members of his family. He was 93.
Buckner (Buck) Coe was a sixth generation minister. A graduate of Yale University and the Yale Divinity School, he served as a pastor for churches in Ohio, Connecticut, Illinois, Claremont, Calif., and Ohio. He served as an interim minister in Scarsdale, N.Y. In retirement he was a guest preacher at the Neighborhood Congregational Church of Laguna Beach.  He first moved to Laguna Beach in 1985.
As a pastor he was outspoken on peace and social justice, believing the church had a leadership responsibility on these issues to the communities they served and to society-at-large.  He marched with Martin Luther King in Selma in 1965, led a fair housing campaign in Chicago’s North Shore suburbs in the 1960s, and anti-Vietnam War campaigns in both the Chicago area and Claremont, Calif.  His last job before retirement was working for the National Farm Worker Ministry in Los Angeles on behalf of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers Union’s efforts to improve wages and working conditions for farm workers. He continued his active engagement in politics and social issues in his retirement.

Throughout his life, the Rev. Coe engaged in a scholarly pursuit of the work of H. Richard Niebuhr, a Protestant theologian and Christian ethicist.

Buck “re-charged” by spending summers on Martha’s Vineyard, creating lifetime memories for his family.  He was an ardent sports fan—always ready to cheer on his Dodgers and Lakers.  He loved movies, the Kingston Trio, and comedians Bob and Ray.  Games of Scrabble with Judy were a daily occurrence.  He loved to read, and was always up for a good discussion.  And, he loved his grandchildren.

While he touched many lives, it is his family—and those closest to him—who were, perhaps, inspired the most by his strong moral compass and his willingness to remain true to what was most important.

Buckner Coe is survived by his wife of 23 years, Judith Polich Coe, whose love and care for him had no bounds.  He is also survived by his sister, the Rev. Ansley Coe Throckmorton; his children Andy (Liz), the Rev. Karen Chalmers Coe, Jonathan, (Julie), Sara; and two grandsons, Ryan Coe and Jackson Buckner Coe.  He was pre-deceased by his wife, Kathryn Dowley Coe, and his brother, the Rev. Chalmers Coe.
A service to celebrate Buckner Coe’s life will be held on Saturday, June 16, at 11 a.m. at Neighborhood Congregational Church, 340 St. Ann’s Dr., Laguna Beach. A reception will take place after the service. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to JOY!, the social justice outreach work of NCC.  Contributions can be made out to Neighborhood Congregational Church referencing “JOY! Outreach-Coe” and sent to the address above.  For further information call the church at 949-494-8061.


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