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Wendell Bernard Coker, 55, Rockingham, NC passed on Monday, December 7, 2023. Funeral Service will be held at 1:00 pm on Saturday, December 16, 2023, at New Diggs AME Zion Church, 494 Mizpah Road, Rockingham, NC. Public Viewing, Friday, December 15, 2023, 1:00 pm until 6:00 pm at Nelson Funeral Home, 1021 E. Washington Street, Rockingham, NC 28379. Nelson Funeral Service is serving the family.
Elder Wendell Bernard Coker was born December 26th, 1967 in Darlington, SC to the
parents of Mary Louise Harkless Coker and Robert Coker. Elder Coker peacefully
transitioned from life on December 7th, 2023.
Elder Coker grew up in Darlington, SC and obtained his education in the public
schools of Darlington County graduating with the class of 1986 from Mayo High
School. Elder Coker wore many hats during his time in high school. He served as
captain of his high school football team and also learned to drive school buses starting
at the age of 15. Elder Coker was also enrolled in the Citadel Military College.
Elder Coker continued his education at Livingstone College earning his Bachelor’s
Degree in Business Administration. It was during his time at Livingstone College in
Salisbury, NC that he met his wife, Odessa Jones, and upon meeting her in 1993, God
ordained their marriage in 1994. Between their union, they were blessed with three
beautiful children, Gwendolyn, Preston, and Faith. Elder Coker had a wealth
of knowledge that he gained from working various roles throughout his life. In his
early years, Elder Coker worked at Samarcand Manor in Eagle Springs, NC. He
worked at Livingstone College as a Residential Advisor and an Athletic Trainer. In
2003, Elder Coker started what he called his vision and ministry, The Richmond
County Golden Bears Semi-Pro Football Team. For 17 years, Elder Coker dedicated
his life to ensuring that young men in the community were given a second chance to
a rewarding life. Elder Coker made it known that it was more than just football, it was
about bringing lost souls to Christ through a sport that they loved. Within the span of
those years, he brought his team two State Championships and 3 trips to the National
Championship in Florida. When asked why he did this so long, he always expressed,
“If I can draw just one life closer to God, I have drawn many”.
During his time as a coach, he also pursued his calling in social work and human
development. Elder Coker worked in the Department of Social Services for over 12
years in various counties of North and South Carolina as a Supervisor. He also worked
with Mentor Network as the Director of their Day Treatment Program. Elder Coker
believed that it was truly his calling to be a service to others and beer the lives of the
youth and families in his communities. In 2014, alongside his wife, Elder Coker
graduated with his Master’s Degree in Counseling and Therapy. In his most recent
years, Elder Coker worked with Pinnacle Family Services as a Therapeutic Foster Care
Licensure Specialist, assisting families with obtaining their license to foster children
in foster care. Through this line of work, Elder Coker was able to touch many lives,
sharing his wisdom and knowledge and using what he knew to continue his ministry.
In October 2010, Elder Coker accepted the call to preach and with this duty, he served
as the youth minister at Triumph Church in Cheraw, SC where Pastor Elder Donnie
Chapman presides. He truly loved his Triumph Church family by helping in any way
he could by giving the Word to God’s people, visiting the sick, aiding with pastoral
duties, standing at the door with a welcoming smile, or simply helping members up
and down the steps. If you knew Elder Coker, you knew he loved music and singing
and you can always count on him to harmonize in the background. Elder Coker also
spent moments assisting and learning under his father-in-law, Pastor Carl Jones within
his early years of ministry. After years of serving this duty, Elder Coker was promoted
to the role of an Elder within Triumph Church, Cheraw, SC and served in that capacity,
until his passing.
There are not enough words to describe how wonderful Elder Coker was. He was a
man of God and very charismatic. He was humble, kind, and very wise. If you had
the pleasure of meeting him, you were always greeted with a welcoming smile and a
joke or two.
Wendell Coker leaves behind to cherish his memories; his loving wife of 29 years,
Odessa Jones Coker, his daughters, Gwendolyn Coker and Faith Coker, his son,
Preston Coker, his brother Anthony (Kymbrelli) Coker, his aunts, Rosa Bacote, Flora
Free, Naomi Harkless, his mother in-law Betty Harper Jones, a host of brother
and sister in-laws, nieces and nephews, and cousins. He was preceded in death by his
mother Mary Louise Harkless Coker; his father Robert Coker; his grandmothers
Gilester Slater Coker and Azalee Davis Harkless, grandfathers Jim Coker and John
Harkless, and father in-law Pastor Carl Jones and brother in-law Eddie Harper. We
will always cherish his memories and he will forever live in our hearts.