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Hundreds honor, remember Coleman

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  • Hundreds honor, remember Coleman

    Hundreds honor, remember Coleman
    Steve King, Staff writer
    It could be said that the greatest measure of a man is how many people care enough to attend his funeral.

    If that's true, then Casey Coleman measures up with the best of them, for there was a crowd of about 600 -- the sanctuary was three-quarters full -- at his funeral Mass Friday morning at St. Angela Merici Catholic Church in Fairview Park in Cleveland's western suburbs.

    Not only was the gathering large to pay respects to Coleman, the 55-year-old longtime Cleveland sportscaster who died early Monday morning after a courageous 14-month battle with pancreatic cancer, but it was also impressive in its makeup -- a veritable who's who of many different aspects of Cleveland.

    And that's key, for as the celebrant for the funeral Mass, Fr. Timothy Gareau, who is from Coleman's home church, St. Raphael in nearby Bay Village, said, "Casey was a great ambassador for Cleveland."

    Now Cleveland had showed up in force to be an ambassador for the celebration of his life.

    From the media world, there were his colleagues at WTAM-AM radio in Cleveland, where he was part of the Wills and Coleman morning drive show; his former colleagues at WJW-TV in Cleveland, where he was sports director and a sportscaster; play-by-play man Jim Donovan and color analyst Doug Dieken, who had worked with sideline reporter Coleman on the Browns radio network since 1999; and friends from a variety of radio, TV and print outlets.

    Newscaster Denise Dufala, who worked with Coleman at WJW and is now at Cleveland's WOIO-TV, was one of the soloists.

    One of Coleman's pall bearers was Dan Coughlin, a sportscaster at WJW.

    From the sports world, there was former Indians manager Mike Hargrove; ex-Browns Brian Brennan and Mike Pagel; a contingent of Browns employees, including general manager Phil Savage; Indians radio broadcaster Tom Hamilton; and Edward Lavelli, representing his father, Browns Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Dante Lavelli.

    Longtime Indians public relations director Bob DiBiasio was a pall bearer.

    And from the real world, there was retired Cleveland Catholic Diocese Bishop Fr. Anthony Pilla.

    But it wasn't just the well-known who came out to pay their respects during the 90-minute Mass. Also there were members of the Greater Cleveland community at large -- retirees, bankers, lawyers, businessmen, factory workers, homemakers and others.

    As Fr. Gareau said, "Casey made an impact on so many lives."

    That's true, but Coleman never seemed to realize it. Even as his disease spread and he finally came to grips with the fact that it -- and not he -- would win in the end, he refused to stand in the spotlight, instead pushing everyone he met into it while he stood by and counted his blessings. The only way he put his celebrity status out there for all to see was when it could help him with his fight against alcoholism, an infliction he freely admitted brought him to his knees, and in sharing his strong religious faith.

    "The major stumbling blocks Casey faced in his life turned into major stepping stones of his faith," Fr. Gareau said.

    Coleman called himself "the luckiest guy in the world" and used the initials from those words, "LGITW," on the personalized license plate on his car.

    Coleman planned his own funeral, and on the back of the Mass program, he wrote this:

    "Why am I the luckiest guy in the world? Too many reasons to list, but the most important ones are glaringly obvious:

    *"My faith and sobriety, which has given me the ability to live a great life and cherish every day.

    *"A childhood spent in the world of sports (he was the son of legendary Cleveland sportscaster Ken Coleman) which led to an amazing career in the toy department of life.

    *"The loving and supportive friends I've been blessed with, especially the ones who made my last year here on earth the best time of my life. Yes, there was a lot of pain and suffering, but it was far outweighed by the love that surrounded us.

    *"My precious and beautiful (daughters) Chelsea and Kayla, even more beautiful on the inside, who have brought me nothing but joy and endless pride in everything they do.

    *"And finally, my darling (wife) Mary, the love of my life who kept me alive and taught me about genuine, unselfish love and true happiness. As I've said before, sometimes in an ordinary life, a fairy tale happens.

    "So who's had a better life than me?"

    Certainly, no one has ever had a better send-off, and no one has deserved one more that Coleman, who is as nice of a person as you'll ever meet in sports and otherwise.

    "We all have been given a beautiful painting in the life of Casey Coleman," Fr. Gareau said. "He was a man small in stature, but he lived larger than life."

    And few knew that better than WJW sportscaster John Telich, who worked with Coleman for 17 years at the station. Telich gave a Hall of Fame eulogy that had people laughing, crying and thinking -- all at the same time in some cases.

    Dark clouds had covered the area for almost a day, but at 10:30 a.m., the exact time the service began, the sun came out and shone brightly for a few minutes.


    Then at noon, as the Mass was ending, the wind had just started blowing vociferously, the much-anticipated storm front that had battered Texas, Oklahoma and the Midwest having finally arrived in Cleveland. The front doors of the church were thrown open for the removal of the casket, which had been wheeled to the vestibule, and the wind made a huge whooshing sound as it roared into the sanctuary.

    Hmmm again.

    It was as if Coleman was letting everyone know that he had indeed rounded third and arrived at home, where, upon jumping onto the plate with both feet, he had been greeted by a most special welcoming committee.
    The Browns are gone; I'm not a fan of the Impostors

    The real Browns are in Baltimore, see?

  • #2


    Sig by PsychoZombie


    • #3
      I heard about this during the game....he wasn't that old...

      sorry to hear this....what happened to him?
      Tony G

      The Chefs


      • #4
        Originally posted by KCLadyFan
        I heard about this during the game....he wasn't that old...

        sorry to hear this....what happened to him?
        Pancreatic Cancer

        He had to quit announcing the games because of it. So Bernie Kosar took his place during the preseason and I dont' recall who took over for regular broadcasts.
        The Browns are gone; I'm not a fan of the Impostors

        The real Browns are in Baltimore, see?


        • #5
          Casey Coleman is one of the best sports anchors up here in cleveland period

          I support Kaepernick 100%