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Harold Coker, founder of Coker Tire, dies

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Harold Coker, founder of Coker Tire, dies

Harold Coker, founder of Coker Tire Co. and recent inductee to the Tire Industry Association Hall of Fame, died on Nov. 16, 2014. He was 84.

He died Sunday morning after falling at his farm on Saturday, according to The Chattanoogan.com.

Coker was born on Christmas Eve in 1929 in a log cabin in Cherokee, N.C. He was the first of his family to receive a college education. He graduated from Tennessee Tech in 1951 with a degree in chemistry. He began his career in the tire industry with B.F. Goodrich and then started Coker Tire in 1958 in Athens, Tenn., and moved to Chattanooga in 1961.

The company is now the largest supplier for collector car tires in the world. Although he retired from active participation in Coker Tire in 2004, Coker was serving as chairman of the board emeritus.

In 1985, he served as president of the National Tire Dealers and Retreaders Association (NTDRA) where he spearheaded the effort to get NTDRA into the government affairs arena and lobbied for bills like voluntary tire registration.

He was instrumental in starting and raising money for the association’s political action committee (PAC) and spoke about the importance of government affairs to state associations nationwide. Coker was chairman of the committee to establish Money Express, a credit card exclusively for tire dealers nationwide.

He also was a political leader. He tenure on the Hamilton County Commission in Tennessee spanned over 20 years and included three terms as chairman in 1986, 1995 and 1999. While on the County Commission, Coker was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission. He ran for Congress in 1988.

Coker is survived by his wife of 61 years, Lillian; younger brother, Bob; children Corky, Christie and David; seven grandchildren and four great-grandsons.

Visitation will be at Chattanooga Funeral Home East, 404 S. Moore Road, on Tuesday, Nov. 18, from 3-7:30 p.m. The family will have a private graveside service. The public is invited to a Celebration of Life service, officiated by Dr. Wayne Barber, on Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Woodland Park Baptist Church, 7501 Standifer Gap Road.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the Woodland Park Baptist Church Building Fund, 7501 Standifer Gap Road, Chattanooga, TN 37421, or the Family Action Counsel of Tennessee, 2479 Murfreesboro Road, Number 362, Nashville, TN 37179-3554.

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