Robert Coates

Obituary of Robert Abbott Coates

Robert Abbott Coates, 89, of Nampa, died Wednesday, April 13, in Boise. He was born on April 25, 1921 in Carey, Idaho. The oldest son of Levaur Paul Coates and Leona May Abbott Coates, Bob attended school in Carey and upon graduating high school in 1939, he attended Utah State College. He joined the U.S. Navy in January 1941. His ship, the USS Nevada, was the only battleship to get underway at Pearl Harbor, only to be run aground to keep from sinking. Bob was then assigned to the cruiser USS San Francisco. He participated in most of the naval actions in the Pacific from start to finish with 17 major battles in all, including the Battle of Guadalcanal, known as the most ferocious naval battle of all time. Bob was a life member of the VFW, Pearl Harbor Survivors Association and the USS San Francisco Association. When his six year enlistment was over, he worked for the Navy department as a civilian Electronic Technician in Oakland, California. While there he met his wife-to-be, Esther; on May 21, 1947, they were married. In 1952, Bob and Esther welcomed their son, Robert Abbott, Jr., to the world. Nearly twelve years later, with joy and a bit of shock, their daughter, Anne Michelle, joined the family. As Bob and Esther raised their children, Bob experienced two big career moves. In 1952, he and his brother Elwin Coates purchased a sheep ranch in Carey, Idaho. In 1956, Bob accepted employment as senior electronic technician at the nuclear reactor testing site located east of Arco, Idaho. He worked at the site for 27 years, retiring as a senior engineer. Bob’s career in the electronic field spanned from working on radio transmitters, barely past the “spark gap” era, to designing computers. While Bob’s naval experience and work history were significant pieces to his life, time spent with friends and family was a great joy for him. Never one to sit around, he could often been seen volunteering and speaking at his home-away-from-home the Warhawk Air Museum about his naval experience. Perhaps his greatest enjoyment, though, was his time spent with family. He looked forward to the warm weather with backyard family barbecues or going out to dinner with friends and family. A loving grandfather, he enjoyed spending time with his granddaughters and most recently, trying to keep up with a young great-grandson. On top of volunteering and family time, Bob devoted a lot of time and effort in researching and writing about Idaho’s early years. Bob’s endeavor to find out about his ancestors involved in pre-statehood days of Idaho led him to discover, all through official documents, that one of his great-grandfathers built the first bridge across the South Fork of the Payette River and also the road from the Upper Payette to Placerville. His ancestors also founded the town of Placerville and one was also one of the first judges in Nampa. He is survived by his sister, Mildred Hall of Phoenix, AZ; his son, USMC Lt. Col. (Retired) Robert A. Coates of Oceanside, CA; his daughter, Anne Michelle Goade (Jeff) of Boise, ID; four granddaughters, Stephanie Abbott Coates of Oceanside, CA; Amy Lynn MacDowell (Bo) of Greenleaf; Brooke Anne Pehrson of Nampa; and Nicole Mae Pehrson of Boise, ID; and the latest ray of sunshine in his day, one great-grandson, Evan Abbott MacDowell of Greenleaf. He was preceded in death by his parents, one brother, Elwin Coates, and one sister, Joneva Goicoechea, as well as his wife of almost 60 years, Esther Coates. A Celebration of Life will be held at 11 AM at the Warhawk Air Museum, 201 Municipal Drive, Nampa, ID. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the educational fund at the Warhawk Air Museum. Service Information
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