Traffic accident victim was mother, friend, co-worker

Staff WriterJanuary 24, 2006 

A person could tell a lot about Hester "Faye" Coleman by looking at her work desk.

"She has a little bulletin board with pictures of her family on it," said professor Barbara Wasik, who worked with Coleman since she started her job as a program assistant at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Education almost 10 years ago.

Coleman and her temperamental white Pekingese named Shadow were heading home Saturday when Coleman's Saturn got hit by a suspected intoxicated driver. Police say he whipped into her lane to pass a couple of cars that had slowed down for one of them to make a right turn.

Coleman, who would have turned 63 Saturday, died instantly, according to the state Highway Patrol.

The other driver, Isael Medrano, 28, of 306 Estes Drive Extension, No. 15-N, Carrboro, remained in the Orange County jail Monday in lieu of $200,000 bail on charges related to her death.

Coleman left a loving and close family that includes two daughters, Stacy Koon of Graham, and Jill Woody of Mebane, as well as two grandchildren and her former husband, H.C. Harris of Durham.

Family and friends described Coleman as a free spirit who loved to travel and a great creative writer who strove to learn new things. Most of all she cherished time spent with her family.

She zanily called her oldest daughter "Lovie Dovie Duckie-pooh," and her youngest "Baby Llama," and she rarely let a day pass without speaking with her daughters and grandchildren.

"When everybody got home in the evenings it was just a given that you would call and check in with Mom, or she would check in with you," said her younger daughter, Jill Woody, 28.

Coleman spoiled Shadow, the 7-year-old protective pup she cared for after his original owner, Coleman's mother, died about five years ago.

Shadow ate whatever she cooked rather than dog food, and Coleman often took him on long weekend drives and walks.

"He ate whatever my Mom ate," Woody said. During their drives, Coleman would often stop in a drive-through and split an ice cream cone.

"She would have half, and she would scrape off half into a bowl for [Shadow]," Woody said.

Before the accident Saturday evening, Coleman had just had an early supper with a friend and taken Shadow to the craft store Michaels at New Hope Commons -- probably looking for picture frames, Woody said.

"She has lots of photos and she has this ongoing effort to get all these photos in frames," she said.

At work, Coleman's was the face that greeted folks entering into the school psychology program suite in the School of Education. She was very student-oriented, Wasik said.

"Everyone knew her, and she knew everyone who came in," Wasik said.

Coleman also had a "great openness to learning," her co-worker said. She had recently lent Coleman some CDs of Renaissance art which Coleman became very interested in.

A memorial service for Coleman will be held at 6:30 p.m. today at McClure Funeral Service in Graham.

Staff writer Jessica Rocha can be reached at 932-2008 or jessica.rocha@newsobserver.com.

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