Tupelo/Birmingham - Jean Joy Smith Coats, in her 97th year, passed away on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021 from her residence. Jean was blessed with good health and a wonderful life of almost 100 years.
Born in Birmingham, Al on December 22, 1923 to the late George Jasper Smith and Bertha Mae Nichols Smith, she graduated from Ensley High School in 1941. She entered Montevello College right out of high school. She married William Reid Coats on January 29, 1942 just a couple of weeks before he entered military service during World War II. After 4 years serving his country, he returned to Graysville where they established and operated for many years Coats Grocery and Service Station. Jean went back to school and attended Howard College (now Sanford University) and eventually received her BA in Education from Birmingham-Southern. She taught at Corner High School several years and ultimately received her MA Degree in Mathematics from the University of Alabama (Roll Tide). She finished her teaching career in the Mathematics Department at Birmingham-Southern College.
The family moved to Tupelo in 1992 to be near their only son, Rob, and his family. Before her husband’s death in 2000, she and Bill traveled North America and virtually every state in the USA in a motor home with Jean always the pilot! Jean enjoyed weekly card games with her friends and was a member of the Pilot Club. She was an active member of Harrisburg Baptist Church where she loved Sunday school and sang in the Senior’s choir.
A graveside service celebrating her long, fruitful life will be held at 2 PM Monday, Feb. 22, 2021 at Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham with Bro. David Smith officiating. Visitation will be from 3 PM - 4 PM Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021 at the Tupelo Chapel of Holland Funeral Directors, which is honored to be serving their friends.
Jean is survived by her small but tight knit family: her son, Robert “Rob” Coats and his wife, Kathy of Tupelo; two grandchildren, Ben Coats of Tupelo, who provided care for Grandmother, and Bethany Coats Molica of Springfield, MO, both of whom loved their Grandmother; two great-grandchildren, Kaia Molica of Memphis, TN and Jake Molica of Nixa, MO; and her extended family at Harrisburg Baptist Church. She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, and a beloved sister, Meridith Smith Weir.
A heartfelt thanks go to her wonderful sitters: Kathy Terry, Carol Patterson, and Cindy Leach.
Memorials may be made to Harrisburg Baptist Church, 4695 Cliff Gookin Blvd., Tupelo, MS 38801, or to Hope Church, 2094 McCullough Blvd., Tupelo, MS 38801.