Coleman Home

John Elmer Coleman

Elmer and Walt Hicks

John Elmer Coleman, firstborn of John Thomas and Annie Laura Phelps Coleman was born July 31, 1893, at a time when modern conveniences were just making their appearance, but because his family was poor, he grew up doing chores and living in age-old manners. He was baptized Aug. 31, 1900 by his grandfather, Philip Marion Coleman, and confirmed by William Passey. He was ordained a priest by Arnold C. Huber Feb. 28, 1915.

He grew to be about five feet, eleven inches tall and slender. His blond curly hair was the bane of his existence, but it earned him the name “Kinky.”

Elmer loved music, learning to play the mandolin and piano. He was self-taught but gathered groups around to sing songs and laugh. He liked fancy shirts and fancied himself quite a  dandy.”

He not only worked hard for his father in farming, but took side jobs where he could get them to supplement the family income.

He joined the Arizona National Guard, company D, 1St Arizona Infantry May 3, 1913 and served in that unit until called into federal service May 9, 1916 for duty on the Mexican Border under Gen. John J. Pershing. He was honorably discharged Aug. 25, 1916. After that he entered in the grocery business, first working for C. R. Clark Grocery for a number of years. His only adventure into self employment was when he went into partnership with Uncle William Phelps on the corner of Maine and Pomeroy. Money was scarce and the store failed.

He went to work for Johnson-Pearce Commercial Co. in Mesa, selling everything from live turkeys to overalls, including produce. His brothers Paul and Morris remember from this period that he was a master of candling eggs brought in by farmers. He also delivered goods to Phoenix in a white Model T delivery truck they called the “White Streak.” He was in a position to hire high school kids for part time help, so his brother Paul was employed to pluck turkeys, pick figs and apricots, and sell Christmas trees. Later he worked for McKellips Mutual Citrus Growers in packing and shipping.
November 1919 Elmer married Martha Ann Brown, known as Mattie, who was a good friend of Elmer’s sister Naomi. Mattie’s half brother, Stanley Newell later married Naomi. They had three children, born over a 16 year period, and then their rocky marriage was ended in divorce.
Elmer suffered from heart trouble for several years and died at the home of his brother Morris May 6, 1945,

Elmer and Tom Attawy

Elmer and Minnie Coleman

John Elmer Coleman

Elmer serving with General Pershing on the border