John Edmund Coles, MD, departed mortality peacefully surrounded by family April 3, 2016. His 98-plus years were dedicated to work, sacrifice and service. He was a devoted son, brother, husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
John was born November 22, 1917, in a simple log home with sod roof in Lorenzo, Idaho, to Daniel Hollyman Coles and Lilley Gange. He was the fourth of five children. His siblings include Lola Coles Tibbetts, Milton Coles, Julian Coles, and Bernice Coles Hathaway. It was on the family farm he learned the value of hard work. Likely hot summer days in the hay field also taught him the value of an education. He graduated from Rigby (Idaho) High School.
During his life he studied at Ricks College, Rexburg, Idaho; Utah State University, Logan, Utah; Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas; University of California, Berkley, California; and John’s Hopkins Medical School, Baltimore, Maryland. As a young man his Stake President told him, “I have the distinct impression that if you have the chance to go to Medical School, you should become a doctor.” At the time, the prospects for a poor farm boy becoming a physician seemed completely impossible.
As World War II began John enlisted in the Army Air Corp attending flight school in Santa Maria, California. He became a navigator stationed in Long Beach, California, where he met Bettie F. Brunt of Idaho Falls, Idaho. They were married in the Logan Temple, on July 20, 1943. During the war he served in the Pacific Theatre. He was in the squadron of five aircraft carrying General Douglas MacArthur to oversee the Japanese surrender.
After the war, John studied at the University of California, Berkley, completing a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He then was admitted to John’s Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Coles was an Internist specializing in Cardiology. Upon graduation he re-enlisted and served 29 years in the Air Force. During his career the Coles family lived in San Antonio, Texas; Cheyenne, Wyoming; Anchorage, Alaska; Gulfport, Mississippi; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Riverside, California. After leaving the Air Force he began private practice in Riverside, then Patton State Hospital and March Air Base. John and Bettie moved to St. George, Utah, in 1998 where they lived happily for 15 years.
John’s life was accentuated by service in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; serving as Bishop’s Counselor, Stake High Councilor, Bishop (twice), and Stake Patriarch.
He is survived by his seven children: Bettie Fann (Richard) Wilson, John, Jr. (Carol) Coles, Daniel (Sue) Coles, David (Diane) Coles, Cathy (Steven) Wilson, Mary (Stephen) Davis, Paul Coles (Deceased), and Michael Coles. John also leaves a posterity numbering 44 grandchildren and 107 great-grandchildren.
- Saturday, April 16, 2016, at 10 a.m. at the Bloomington 3rd Ward Chapel, 3519 Manzanita Drive, St. George, Utah.
- A viewing will be Saturday, prior to services, from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the Chapel.
- Interment will be at Tonaquint Cemetery.
rrangements have been entrusted to the care of Metcalf Mortuary, 435-673-4221.
For condolences, full obituary, and funeral listings please visit Metcalf Mortuary online.