Sue S. Coates obituary

Contact: Mark Schwerin
Photo of Sue S. .


Sue S. Coates, longtime chair of the former Department of Home Economics and Department of Consumer Resources and Technology, died Friday, June 14. She was 86.

Coates retired in 1990 after serving 15 years as chair of what is now the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences. She also had presided over the combined Departments of Agriculture, Distributive Education and Home Economics. Under her leadership, the Department of Home Economics evolved into a department offering multiple academic programs including dietetics, family studies, fashion merchandising, food service administration, teacher education, interior design, and textiles and apparel technology.

While at WMU, Coates served as chair of the Michigan Home Economic Educators, second vice president of the National Council of Administrators of Home Economics, national secretary of the American Collegiate Retail Association and member of the American and Michigan Home Economics Associations, the Association of College Professors of Textiles and Clothing and the American Collegiate Retailing Association.

Sue S. Coates

Coates began her higher education studies at Moberly Junior College, now Moberly Area Community College, and was a member of Phi Theta Kappa. She continued her education at Washington University in St. Louis, where she obtained a bachelor's degree, then earned master's and doctoral degrees at the University of Missouri.

Before coming to WMU in 1975, she had been chair from 1963 to 1975 of the Department of Business and Retailing at Stephens College in Columbia, Mo., where she had taught since 1949. While at Stephens, she planned and directed annual field trips to New York City for textile and merchandising students for 15 years. She also led field trips to numerous other American cities and directed seminar trips across Europe.

After one year of retirement from WMU, Coates accepted a position as head of the Division of Fine and Performing Arts at Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, Miss.—the first public institution of higher education for women in the nation—serving from 1991 to 2005. She then retired for a second time and returned to Columbia, Mo., where she spent her summers, and wintered in Scottsdale, Ariz.


A service was held earlier this month in Missouri. Online condolences may be left at