Robert E. Coon, Vice President Emeritus of Student Affairs, has died

Robert E. Coon

Robert E. Coon, 94, emeritus vice president of student affairs at State University of New York College at Fredonia, died Wednesday, Dec. 15, at Brooks Hospital in Dunkirk after a brief illness.

The SUNY Fredonia community, former colleagues and generations of alumni remember Mr. Coon with great affection and admiration. His “students first” and open door philosophy has been reflected in the high quality of student life at SUNY Fredonia during his 35-year career at the university.

Upon Mr. Coon’s retirement in 1991, SUNY Fredonia President Donald A. MacPhee honored him, noting, “His impact on the college, through fundamental changes in the complexity of size, facilities and services, is unprecedented and extends far beyond its particular areas of responsibility. Over those many years, he became known to many as “Mr. Fredonia,” and brought a unique blend of firm and caring leadership to each of the positions he held on campus. One need only observe, as I do, the deep affection of Fredonia alumni for him to feel the impact he had on the lives of our students.

Son of the late Edwin L. Coon and Emma (Steck) Coon, Mr. Coon was born February 16, 1927 in Silver Creek and graduated from Silver Creek High School in 1944. He served in the US Army Air Corps. Enlisted in the reserves from July 1944 to May 1945 (Clemson College), then in the US Navy from May 1945 to July 1946 in the South Pacific, including the Philippines and Japan.

After leaving the Navy, Mr. Coon married his high school sweetheart, Shirley (Pattyson) on August 16, 1947, whom he met at a prom after a high school basketball game.

A 1950 graduate of State University of New York College in Fredonia, earning a bachelor’s degree in music education, Mr. Coon enrolled in the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, earning a master’s degree in music in 1954. Additional training included the Columbia University and the University at Buffalo, where he completed doctoral courses in higher education administration. He played several instruments, including piano, saxophone, vibraphone and clarinet.

Mr. Coon was director of music at Holley (NY) Central School from 1950 to 1953, after which he was owner-manager of the Kuchen Music Co. in Fredonia from 1953 to 1956.

Mr. Coon began his career at the College of Fredonia as the Field Services Coordinator in 1956, responsible for student recruitment, alumni relations, college tours and campus tours. He was promoted to director of admissions in 1961 and dean of students in 1965. In 1969, then-president Oscar Lanford promoted him to vice president for student affairs, and in 1978 he was promoted to vice president. president of student affairs and university services. , a position Mr. Coon held until his retirement in 1991.

Serving the College of Fredonia for more than 35 years, often during tumultuous times, Mr. Coon will be remembered most for his dedication to undergraduate students, his mentorship of graduate students in higher education and for his exceptional supervision of numerous student service professionals. A colleague once wrote that “Bob is unwavering in his determination to ensure a seamless, comprehensive and innovative growth-oriented student services program.”

For 12 years, from 1978 to 1990, Mr. Coon’s administration also oversaw the campus physical plant, his area of ​​supervision including University Services as well as Student Affairs. Mr. Coon was instrumental in transforming the campus into a 12-month center for non-academic recreational and educational conference activities, including, among other efforts, bringing the Buffalo Bills to campus for his summer camp. summer training, as well as the Buffalo Sabers. , Elderhostel, Youth Hockey, New York State Summer School for the Arts and National Public Radio.

Mr. Coon was a founding member of the Fredonia College Foundation, a member of the board of trustees from 1965 to 2006, and its treasurer for 13 years. Upon his retirement from the university, the Robert E. Coon Recognition Scholarship, which has honored undergraduate students for over 30 years, was established through the foundation. He and Ms. Coon are also members of the foundation’s Dallas K. Beal Legacy Society. In retirement, Mr. Coon served as alumni chair of the foundation’s first fundraising campaign, “Extending Our Horizons: the Campaign for Fredonia,” and national chair of its second comprehensive campaign, “Traditions and Transitions: The Anniversary Campaign. “. He was later made an honorary member of the foundation board.

Among his many honors, Mr. Coon has received the Distinguished Service Award from the Fredonia College Foundation, the Jessie Hillman Award for Excellence from the Hillman Memorial Music Association, Businessman of the Year from the Student Run Business Club of SUNY Fredonia, the Fredonia Alumni Association Meritorious Service Award and was named an honorary member of the university’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998, winner of the NFL Community Quarterback Award program and was honored by the Association of Fundraising Professionals on National Philanthropy Day.

He was also recognized by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, who nominated him for the National Scott Goodnight Award for Outstanding Performance as Dean.

Mr. Coon is a past president of the Hillman Memorial Music Association, the SUNY Fredonia Faculty Student Association, the Fredonia Alumni Association Board of Directors, and the Western New York College Staff Association. He was a member of the St. Columban’s on the Lake Retirement Home Advisory Council, the Salvation Army Board of Trustees for 20 years, including eight years as Treasurer; and as president and founding member of the Chautauqua County Vacationlands Association. He also served as Chairman of the Council of Chief Student Affairs Administrators at the State University of New York.

He was an avid golfer and member of the Shorewood Country Club, with old friends returning to the area for annual rounds of golf and pleasure, and for many years an avid bridge player.

Mr. Coon was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church in Fredonia.

Besides Mrs. Coon, his wife of 74 years, Mr. Coon is survived by a niece, Gileen Widmer French, of Dunkirk, and seven nephews. He was predeceased by a son, Joseph, and brothers, Donald, Carlton and William.

Interment will be at Sheridan Pioneer Cemetery on Center Road at the convenience of the family. Dissertations may be made at the Robert E. and Shirley P. Coon Fellowship at the Fredonia College Foundation, 272 Central Avenue, Fredonia, NY 14063, or St. Columban’s on the Lake Retirement Home, 2546 Lake Road, Silver Creek, NY 14136 .

Arrangements are by Riles & Woolley Funeral Home, Forestville

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