Eunice Clara Coates May 30, 1927 – February 11, 2015

Eunice Clara Coates May 30, 1927 - February 11, 2015

 Services: Saturday, February 21, 2015, 11:00 A.M., at the United Methodist Church of Gilroy, 7600 Church Street, Gilroy, CA, 95020. Viewing: 10:00 A.M., until service starts. Reception to follow. Burial at Mount Hope Cemetery in Morgan Hill. Donations in her memory may be made to her church’s music program. Funeral arrangements by Johnson Funeral Home in Morgan Hill. For condolences, please visit:
 A resident of Morgan Hill for 50 years, Eunice Clara Coates passed away on February 11, 2015 (her father’s birthday). She was born May 30, 1927, in Pontiac, MI, to Clara Alice Horsley, a high school teacher from Kingsville, MO (1/18/1890-4/6/1981), and Peter McInnes Clasper (2/11/1888-3/15/1980), a Scottish immigrant who settled in Lapeer, MI by way of Ontario, Canada. A draftsman for General Motors, he served as a Baptist minister while Eunice was growing up with her only sibling, James Clasper (11/25/29 – 10/4/14).
 Eunice graduated with a Bachelor of Music Degree and a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Michigan. She was active in the Phi Sigma Mu Glee Club in college and sang in the University Choir under distinguished conductor Maynard Klein.
 Eunice left Michigan for California for the teaching opportunities, and because she “got tired of the ice.”  
 At age 37, she married Alan Coates (age 48) on July 3, 1964. They enjoyed 35 years together. Eunice taught for 31 years (eight in Michigan and 23 in Gilroy (Brownell Middle School and Glen View Elementary School).
 Until her mid-80’s, Eunice could be seen driving to her many charitable and musical activities in her ‘signature piece,’ her husband’s classic 1965 yellow Mustang. This sporty side caught the attention of young people, and more than one tried to purchase her vintage vehicle. Over the years, when it needed expensive repairs, some encouraged her to get a newer car. Her quick answer was always, “Oh, I wouldn’t think of doing that!” It was the only car she would drive after her husband Alan passed away in 1999.
 She was a grateful survivor of a horrific bus crash in Lucerne Lake in Switzerland in 1961 in which 16 other people drowned. She truly believed that prayer saved her that day, and she made it her practice to pray often for others and to spend many hours visiting those who were lonely or ill.
 Eunice regularly played piano for local senior centers, including Live Oak Adult Day Services, along with fellow musician Hermann Schmalzried, who played the cornet and handharmonika (button box). She was a stickler for musical quality and didn’t hesitate to point out any wrong note in rehearsal, but she always supported local musicians, traveling many out-of-town miles to attend their performances and recitals.
 At the United Methodist Church of Gilroy, she was accompanist for children’s choir performances, organist, and a member of the choir. She was the soloist at Christmas Eve services, singing ‘O Holy Night’ beautifully for many years. She also accompanied the Side by Siders, a local vocal group performing at national holiday gatherings and in local convalescent hospitals. She was an active member of the 45 Magnolia Order of the Eastern Star and the California Retired Teachers Association, and a big supporter of Gilroy’s annual St. Patrick’s Dinner that raises funds for those in need. She also cared for many cats in her neighborhood.
 “She was such a great, giving lady,” friend Dolores Kirchner said. “She was always walking; I think that’s part of what contributed to her longevity. It was just a couple of months ago that I was in Morgan Hill turning onto Monterey Road. It was wet outside when around the corner, here comes Eunice.
“I opened the window and hollered, ‘Hi Eunice, it’s Dolores; can I give you a ride?’ She said yes, got in, and said she was on her way to the Morgan Hill Methodist Church to serve at Sharing the Bounty, the Wednesday night meal for low income folks. So I dropped her off and she went in and got aproned up and got to work right away. I was amazed, as she was clearly in pain and limping, but she never complained or mentioned it.
“I used to love how she helped me get on the right page and note when we sang in the choir. She must have been such a great teacher, as she always showed a lot of patience, and made sure I got it. I hope she had a smooth passing and now is reunited with her husband and loved ones in heaven.”
 Side by Sider Jan Paterson added, “She’s singing with the angels now.”
 Eunice is survived by her nieces, Susan Farris of Morgan Hill, CA, Anita Farris of San Jose, CA, nephew, Ken Farris of Port Orhard, WA; her sister-in-law, Donna Clasper of Michigan; her brother’s five surviving children: Nan Zemmer, Paul Clasper, Sue Elliott, Pat Bernard, and Pam Hall; and cousins, Anna Grotenhuis, David Gustafson, Dan Gustafson, Christine Kobayashi, Cathy Clasper-Torch, and Cindy Clasper-Schram.

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