N.R. "Nat" Coleman Jr., for decades a widely known, widely respected Greeneville attorney, died Monday afternoon at his home here on Cottage Drive. He was 89.
Coleman's death came after years of declining health, including a period of recent hospitalization.
He had been associated in a key role for more than 50 years with Milligan & Coleman, Greeneville's oldest law firm in terms of continuity. The firm has for decades also been one of the town's largest, with a far-reaching practice.
He was a retired partner of Milligan & Coleman and, since his retirement in 1998, has continued to maintain an office there.
Among many widely-known legal cases in which he took an important role, he was an attorney for the Hawkins County Public Schools in the case of Bob Mozert et al. v. Hawkins County Public Schools, et al.
The case, which drew national attention to the U.S. District Court in Greeneville in the mid-1980s, is often called the Hawkins County textbook case or the Vicki Frost case.
Over the years, Coleman frequently defended the Town of Greeneville and the Greeneville Board of Education in legal matters.
He was also one of two local citizens (the other was Greeneville businessman Wylie Milligan) who persuaded famed international golf course designer Robert Trent Jones to design the course for Link Hills Country Club when the club was established here in the early 1950s.
In addition, Coleman played a major supportive role, though mostly behind-the-scenes, in the creation and success of the Sinking Creek Film Celebration by his late wife, Mary Jane Coleman.
The Film Celebration was established here in 1969, and Greeneville -- and the Colemans' spacious hilltop home -- continued to be its headquarters for many years.
Under Mary Jane Coleman's leadership and with his support, the SCFC, which focused exclusively on independent films, soon became nationally recognized and is considered to have been a major force in the development of independent film festivals in this country and abroad.
The event continues under the name The Nashville Film Festival and is reportedly considered one of the top film festivals of importance in the U.S.
A Celebration of Life service for Coleman is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at St. James Episcopal Church, with a reception to follow in the church parish hall.
Kiser-Rose Hill Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
A complete obituary will be published later this week.