Gilbert Fitzgerald Coan
At the time of his death at the age of 97 on February 5, 2020, Gil Coan was the third oldest living former Major League Baseball player in America. Most famous for his play for the Washington Senators and the Baltimore Orioles from the late 1940’s through the 1950’s, Gil Coan lived like he played the game. His plan was simple: play by the rules, know the game, train hard, give your best effort and win or lose, always be a good sport, treating everyone with dignity and respect.
Gilbert Fitzgerald Coan was born in Monroe, North Carolina, son of the late George Phifer Coan and Florence Price Coan. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 78 years, Dovie White Coan who died on November 18, 2019. He was also predeceased by his brothers George Pruitt Coan and Roger Phifer Coan and his sister Dixie Myers Coan Saba.
George and Florence Coan raised their children in Mineral Springs, North Carolina in a home next door to the Methodist Church. Gil was baptized at Central Methodist Church in Monroe and was very proud of his Methodist heritage. He attended Brevard College where he played baseball and met and married Dovie White from Rosman. Gil and Dovie were devoted members of First United Methodist Church of Brevard for more than seven decades.
After a stint working for the Ecusta Paper Company and playing baseball in the Industrial League, Gil Coan began his professional career as an outfielder for the Chattanooga Lookouts, Southern Association. He was the Number One Minor League Player of the Year in 1945. From there, he was signed by the Washington Senators and became known for his bat and as one of the fastest men in the Major Leagues. He was popular on and off the field, playing in 918 games. After retiring and returning to Brevard, he coached baseball at Brevard College for five years. He continued to enjoy the game throughout his entire life and responded graciously to fans, signing balls, bats, and baseball cards until a just a few weeks before his death.
Gil Coan became the owner of Brevard Insurance Agency in 1962. He sold insurance and developed land, selling real estate the way he played the game, establishing a business that provided a service to his customers and contributed to the community. His son Gil Coan, Jr. joined him in the agency in 1969. The third-generation business is now run by his grandson Jay Coan.
Always entrepreneurial, he bought the Shuford farm in Penrose in the early 1970’s. His love of farming and raising animals led him to establish the GFC Penrose Angus Farm on that beautiful property. Much to his delight, his son Kevin and his family live and work on the farm and continue to operate what is now K & G Farms. Gil Coan was a successful ball player and businessman, but he was truly the happiest feeding his cattle and working outside on the farm, digging post holes and throwing hay bales into his 90’s.
Gil Coan was a team player and saw Brevard as his home team worthy of his best efforts. He was generous with his time, his leadership, and financial support. Most notably, he was a Trustee Emeritus at Brevard College, former president of the Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Realtors and was instrumental in organizing the Transylvania Cattlemen’s Association.
Survivors include his two sons: Gil Coan, Jr. (Faye) and Kevin Coan (Gina) of Brevard; grandchildren Amy Templeton (Jay), Jay Coan (Nora), Casey Coan, Katie Thompson, Tyler Coan (Mercedes) and great-grandchildren, Hannon Templeton, Laney Templeton, Carter Coan, Carson Coan, Braylon Thompson, Mason Thompson, Charlotte Coan, Claire Coan, Parker Coan and sister-in-law Martha White.
A memorial service will be held at 2:00 pm on Saturday, February 22, 2020, at First United Methodist Church of Brevard with the Reverends Michael Holder and Lauren Sims-Salata officiating. A reception will follow in the Fellowship Hall of the church.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests gifts to the Foundation at the First United Methodist Church of Brevard, 325 N. Broad Street, Brevard, NC, 28712 or to support the Baseball program at Brevard College, 1 College Drive, Brevard, NC, 28712.
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