Melvin Earl Cokeley

Date of Birth

May 16, 1929

Date of Death

May 8, 2009

City of Death

Santa Barbara

May 16, 1929 May 8, 2009

Mel passed away unexpectedly while he and his wife Pat were in Newport Beach. He was born in Monrovia, California to Earl and Gladys Cokeley.

Mel grew up in Rosemead, CA, attending Muscatel Elementary and graduating from El Monte High School in 1947. He excelled as an athlete in Track and Football. He attended UCSB from 1949-1954 majoring in Industrial Arts, graduating with a B.A. He received his “California Life Credential” from Long Beach State in 1965.

In 1951, he married Mary Ellen Manwill. They later divorced in 1971. In 1953, his first son Michael was born and in 1958 his second son, Mitchel arrived.

During his college years at UCSB, Mel was a full-time student and served in the UCSB-ROTC program. He worked several part-time jobs: Rohrs and Vogel gas station, which was at State and Micheltorena, Tecolote Tunnel construction project, which brings water to the Santa Barbara area, he also delivered the LA Times and worked at Maratti’s Liquor Stores, and Lyon’s Van and Storage during the summers.

After graduation, Mel reported for Basic training at Ft. Lewis Washington. He then traveled to Fort Benning, GA for officer training. He was later stationed at Fort Dix, New Jersey. During this service he trained “boots” (new recruits), was a rifle instructor and ran a successful Officers Club. In 1956, he earned an Honorable Discharge as a 1st Lieutenant.

After his military service, Mel returned to the Santa Barbara area and started a teaching career of 33 years. He began at Carpinteria High School in the Industrial Arts Department, transferring to La Colina Jr. High in 1965 to continue in the Industrial Arts and adding math, typing and other subjects. In 1971, he transferred to Dos Pueblos High School where he primarily taught Auto Shop in the Industrial Arts department until his retirement in 1987. He also taught the ROP classes and Santa Barbara Adult Education night classes. Mel was the consummate teacher to all. He is remembered by his colleagues and students as a dedicated, passionate, “tough love” teacher, building confidence, and character in each. Many of his students have established strong careers in the field of Auto Technology. He loved hearing of their successes. His students won several Plymouth Trouble Shooting Contests throughout his teaching career. Mel was honored by the Chrysler Corporation as an automotive genius.

In 1972, Mel met Patricia Bean at Dos Pueblos High School and they married in November 1974. At this time, their extended family included Karen (Coldren), Katherine (Follmer) and Doug Bean. During their marriage, Mel and Pat enjoyed their children and their families camping, fishing and water sports, and he loved to travel.

Mel enjoyed sharing his love of surf fishing and ocean fishing, served as president of the Channel Fishing Club. He continually had projects going but would always stop and help if others needed it. One of his greatest joys, along with his wife Pat, was watching his children grow up and succeed in their chosen goals or professions. He was always there to lend a hand or offer advice. But his most proud and warm-hearted times came when his grand children were born. He loved to teach them, share their accomplishments, and travel to see them in their different events. He wore his “Proud Grandpa” hat with a warm heart and a huge smile.

Mel is survived by his wife of 35 years, Patricia Bean-Cokeley, his children Michael Cokeley (Melody), Karen Coldren (Bruce), Katherine Follmer (Garrett), Mitchel Cokeley (Sandy), and Douglas Bean (Lynn). His grandchildren, Jamie (Coldren) Ayers (Ryan), Mitchel (J.C.) Cokeley, Wm. Chase Follmer, Samantha Bean, Ryan Coldren, Rayce Cokeley , Mallory Follmer, Jessica Bean, and Hillary Bean. He is also survived by his sister Elaine Shattuck (Bruce), Mary Ellen (Manwill) Cokeley and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and his younger brother Robert Cokeley (wife Marian).

Please join us on Sunday, June 28, 2009 at 3:00pm, for our husband’s, dad’s, and grandpa’s Celebration of Life at Goleta Beach.

In lieu of flowers, a “Melvin A. Cokeley Scholarship Fund” has been established through the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara. This scholarship will support students continuing their higher education. Your tax deductible donations may be sent to:

Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara (Melvin E. Cokeley Scholarship Fund) at P.O. Box 3620, Santa Barbara, CA 93130.


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