June 15, 2020

On Monday, June 15, 2020, the Coleman family of Natchitoches lost its guiding light when Tommy Coleman passed away from natural causes at his home in Holly Lake Ranch, Texas. Born in Natchitoches to Morris and Mickey Coleman in 1942, Tommy was the fourth of six children.

After graduating from high school in 1961, Tommy joined the U. S. Army and deployed to Germany for three years. In the Army, Tommy was responsible for personnel and payroll, but he also found time to travel the country and make lifelong friends.

Upon his return to the United States in 1965, Tommy worked a stint on the oil rigs in Hobbs, N.M., then sold plastics back home in Louisiana. The fast-paced, challenging world of sales was a natural fit for the charismatic, ambitious young man. In 1970, Tommy moved from Monroe to the big city of Dallas. Tommy spent the next 40 years in Dallas and forged a successful career in sales.

At Bylo Manufacturing Corporation, a growing laminated plastics and countertop company, Tommy rose to become Vice President of Sales and Marketing. He later accepted a position as National Accounts Manager for Iowa-based VT Industries, Inc., and was subsequently promoted to Central Regional Sales Manager with territory from Texas to Canada. Energetic, organized and professional, Tommy always exceeded sales goals and quotas, and was loved by customers and co-workers alike.

While a strong work ethic propelled his career, Tommy’s interpersonal skills made him a truly beloved person in the building materials industry. With a joke, a little dance step or a perfectly timed remark, Tommy could calm a tense situation or instantly turn a business meeting from boring to fun. He logged countless thousands of miles traveling during his sales career, and made friends all along the way. Tommy’s motto was “Enjoy yourself whether you’re having a good time or not,” and he embodied that ideal in both his business and private life.

While Tommy’s professional life was successful and meaningful, he also enjoyed a fulfilling personal life. With his loving wife, Barbara, by his side for 33 years, Tommy enjoyed frequent trips to visit his children and grandchildren in Washington, D. C., Newport, R.I., Pittsburgh, Pa. and Austin, Texas. He also spent many weekends and holidays with family and friends in Natchitoches. In addition to his lifelong love of golf, Tommy enjoyed fishing, music, movies and his Cadillacs. He held Dallas Cowboys season tickets through the team’s Super Bowl seasons in the 1990s, and he loved to fire up the grill and entertain friends and family at home when the team played on the road.

After retiring from VT Industries in 2010 and moving permanently to Holly Lake Ranch in east Texas (where he and Barbara had maintained a weekend home for years prior), Tommy dove into service with the Kiwanis Club, serving as regular member, board member and then president of the organization. He was immensely proud of the work the Holly Lake Ranch Kiwanis Club did to promote the core Kiwanis belief that the most effective way to enhance a community is to enhance its children — providing programs to inspire children and young adults, as well as funding college scholarships, building handicap ramps and distributing hundreds of American flags to area homeowners.

Although Tommy died unexpectedly, he spent his final days in the loving company of his wife, children and grandchildren. Tommy is survived by his wife, Barbara Jean; daughter, Elizabeth Nicole; son, Michael Thomas; grandchildren, Mai-Li, Mica and Autumn; brothers, Gary and Robert; numerous nieces and nephews and countless friends and associates.