Phil Coker passed away on February 16, 2021. Phil was born in Tulsa, OK on Sept. 3, 1947 to James and Alline Coker. They soon moved to Wichita, KS where he spent his childhood. His brother, Rod, joined the family when Phil was 11 yrs old and sadly, their father died the following year. He attended Wichita State University. He moved back to Tulsa and taught flying at Spartan Aviation. He had many great flying stories, but loved to tell how he would have his students land in the wide open fields.
Phil ended up back in Wichita where he started his career in sales. His apartment complex had a small lake where he began his love of sailing in a sunfish. He then bought a bigger boat and sailed on Lake Cheney. He always dreamed of moving to the islands. He passed his love of sailing on to his brother.
Phil and Nancy met in 1973 when Nancy waitressed at a steakhouse during her freshman year at Wichita State and Phil worked across the street at Spraker Volkswagen. They felt a strong connection from the very beginning and started seeing each other regularly. But Nancy moved to Manhattan, KS to attend Kansas State Univ and they parted ways. She always had a place in her heart for Phil. The following summer she went to Spraker and learned that he had moved to St. Thomas! She thought she had literally “missed the boat”. Then in 1976, she reached out again when her life had taken some turns and found that he was back in Wichita. They went to dinner and the infamous Summer of ’76 began! At that point Phil was selling boats – power and sail – and he was really into water skiing. They spent that summer learning to run slalom courses at Keystone Lake in Tulsa. Phil proposed in Sept while attending a Chi Omega party and after Nancy graduated from Kansas State, they married.
The next several years took them to Dallas, TX, Fredericksburg, VA, St. Simons Island, GA and finally Ft. Myers. Phil worked for Chrysler Marine and Starcraft Marine during those years as a District Mgr. He continued his career in sales in the boating industry for years, which included owning American Sailing Center with his Partner-in-Crime, Bill. His job selling advertising for boating publications took him all over the U.S. He loved the travel and always made time to explore his surroundings. He detoured into real estate for a short time working for Mariner Properties managing time share sales. There he made some life-long friends. Nancy and Phil bought a house on Ft. Myers Beach in 1982 where many memories were made with great friends and neighbors. Their daughters, Tricia and Mackenzi, were born and raised while they lived at the beach. They have such fond memories of their 15 years on the beach.
They moved into “town” to Ft. Myers, giving the girls better access to the things they enjoyed. They joined Cypress Lake United Methodist Church where the girls thrived and they found a wonderful church family. Phil became an avid cyclist and rode about 100 miles a week, over the Sanibel causeway, to the lighthouse and back. He LOVED cycling! He would talk about the pelicans and osprey that would glide next to him on the bridges. Nancy and Phil took their bikes on many trips to be sure they could ride.
Phil was a wonderful father, husband and friend to so many. But his greatest moments were those spent with his 3 girls, Nancy, Tricia and Kenzi. They have been fortunate to vacation together over the past 10 years, just the four of them, hiking in mountains, sailing in the British Virgin Islands, and exploring big cities. His love of life was infectious – his glass was always half full. He loved sharing the beauty of our area with all of the family and friends who came to visit. His favorite accomplishment was teaching someone how to set the sails and take the helm. His dream of sailing the islands with Nancy in their luxury years was taken by ALS. His last words included “Tell all of my friends I will miss them.” But we know that you will miss him more, as he can follow us here from heaven.
Phil is survived by his wife, Nancy, and their daughters, Patricia and Mackenzi, and his brother, Rod (Jill). He also leaves behind in-laws Tony Utter (Carolyn), Janis Scott (Jeff), Carol Troyer (Joel) and Susie Wolf (Brian) and many nieces and nephews.
If you would like to honor Phil with a donation, please visit the Dr. Jon & Nancy McEwan Wilkins Fellowship for ALS Research Fund: https://www.uff.ufl.edu/giving-opportunities/024297-dr-jon-nancy-mcewan-wilkins-fellowship-for-als-research-fund/ or United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee: https://www.unitedwaylee.org/donate/
If you would like to watch a recording of Phil’s Celebration of Life you can view it here:
Family and friends may sign the guest register or leave a condolence message by visiting: www.baldwincremation.com.