“A Life Well Lived”
Deacon Francis “Hank” Coat h, Jr., beloved son of the late Francis Coath Sr., and Thelma Robinson-Coath, was born October 16, 1936 in Allendale County. He made a peaceful transition surrounded by his loving family at his bedside at 3:39 p.m. on Saturday, September 14, 2019. He graduated from Fairfax Training School in 1954 where he was a star basketball player. He began his working career at an early age as a school bus driver, as a driver for a company who sold fish, and an orderly for Allendale County Hospital.
On April 24, 1958 he was joined in marriage to Clara McMillan Coath (who he affectionately called “Mack”). Unto this 61-year union was born one daughter, Vallerie Juliet.
In 1970, he began his law enforcement career as a Deputy Sheriff for the Allendale County Sheriff’s Department. He served as Deputy Sheriff for eight years before becoming the first black sheriff of Allendale County in 1978.
“Hank”, as he was often called, was very active in community affairs: past president of the Fairfax Men’s Club, Chairman Deacon at St. Luke Baptist Church in Fairfax, a board member of the Low Country Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, and an elected official of the Fairfax Town Council. He was a graduate of the National Sheriff’s Institute and attended numerous training programs sponsored by the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy, The Federal Bureau of Investigation Academy, and the Sheriff’s Association. At Sheriff Coath’s request, Allendale was the first county to utilize the Governor’s Drug Task Force Raid Team. In July 1991, Sherriff Coath was sworn in as the first black to head the South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association. Because of this dedicated service to the citizens of Allendale County, the Francis Coath, Jr., Law Enforcement Center was named. It continues to serve the community in his honor.
Cherishing a beautiful memory are: devoted wife, Clara McMillan Coath of the home; a loving daughter, Dr. Vallerie Coath Cave of Beaufort, SC; two grandsons, Ryan S. Cave (Lindley) of Rock Hill, S.C. and Francis G. Cave of Beaufort, S.C.; three great- grandchildren, Ryan Alexander Cave, Jr., Rylee Juliet Cave, and Jayden Elijah Cave; sister like niece reared with him, Doris R. Haynes of Columbia, S.C.; a dedicated cousin, neighbor and friend, Quincy Robinson, Sr.; four sisters-in-law; two brothers- in- law; and a host of nieces, nephews, devoted cousins, and loving friends.