Henry G. P. Coates ’28

If we ever forget what seeds are planted in the hearts of Peddie’s students, Henry Coates’ distinguished career is a great reminder.

Thanks to the guidance of his uncle, the renowned John Plant, and another Peddie legend Carl Geiger, Henry became a major contributor to the track team and a fine student of English at Peddie. The track team won every dual meet for the two years he participated.     

His track career exploded at Bucknell University. In his decade, he was its highest scoring track star. During his first three years, he took first place in every dual meet event he entered. More than 50 times he ran. And each time he ran he won! In the process, he set a school record of two minutes and one-half second for the half-mile ‒ just off the Olympic record at that time. What made Henry such a great runner? He recalls John Plant’s admonition to “run with the swift” as his great motivation.

The son of a Baptist minister, Henry lacked the money to attend college. So Peddie master, Carl Geiger, loaned him funds which, together with a Baptist Minister’s Sons’ Scholarship, enabled Henry to earn his degree ‒ a kindness he has never forgotten. Inspired by Mr. Plant and Mr. Geiger, Henry remains steadfastly loyal to both Peddie and Bucknell.

Returning to Hightstown to practice law, Henry quickly became involved in the life of Peddie. Not only did he serve on the Board as probably its longest tenured member; but he also convinced his classmate, Clarence Coleman, to join him for many of those years. How fitting it is that their contributions to the school are immortalized by the building that bears their names.

Of all the past, present and future members of the Sports Hall of Fame, it is unlikely that any could serve Peddie longer, better, or with more devotion than Henry Coates.