Coats named Grand Marshal of Parade

By BRITTNEY MANGUM,

The Grand Marshal for this year’s Christmas parade is none other than Dennis Coats.

Dennis grew up in Stonewall and attended Stonewall Elementary and Junior High until the schools consolidated. Once the schools consolidated, he continued his education and graduated at Quitman High School. He then went on to graduate from Jones County Junior College and the University of Southern Mississippi.

His father was a hard worker who had started his career at the cotton mill in Stonewall when he was 12 years old and instilled that work ethic in his children.

“When I was 12 or 13 years old, I can remember my daddy telling me ‘If you boys are going to have anything, then you’re going to have to get out and work for it,’” stated Coats.

He took his father’s advice to heart and worked hard. While in high school and playing football, Dennis managed to work at a small service station in Stonewall on Saturdays.

He worked at Burlington until he surrendered to the ministry in October of 1974. Once he surrendered he pastored a little church in Alabama from 1975 until 1978. When he left the church in Alabama, he moved to a small church in Wayne County and stayed there from 1978 until 1983.

He moved back to Quitman in October of 1983 to begin pastoring Calvary Baptist Church, and he is still enjoying being the pastor there today.

“I love people. I love the Lord. I love serving people,” stated Coats. “I love pastoring Calvary Baptist Church.”

Although he has been in the ministry for a long time, he has never forgotten his father’s words and has continued to work multiple jobs over the years. In fact, his ministry has been bi-vocational until recently, so he has done all of the following jobs alongside his ministry: He worked 17 years at the knitting mill in Quitman, worked with a hospice group in Meridian for over six years, worked at the Clarke County Tribune for one year, and drove a school bus for five years. Two years ago, he became full-time at Calvary Baptist Church.

Although he has definitely stayed busy over the years and served in multiple capacities, Dennis Coats remains humble.

“I don’t really have any major accomplishments other than serving Clarke County, which I love and enjoy,” stated Coats. “It’s all about the people and their needs and just trying to help and pray for people.”

Although Dennis does not think he has many major accomplishments, the people of Clarke County see and appreciate everything he has done. In fact, he received the service award from the Clarke County Chamber of Commerce a couple of years ago. Now, he feels blessed to serve as the Grand Marshal.

“I feel honored and overwhelmed to be the Grand Marshal,” stated Coats.

His hard work ethic and heart for service have not gone unnoticed. People who meet and speak with him find a caring friend with his outgoing personality and wise advice. With everything he has received, Dennis only truly wants one thing:

“I want to see people turn their lives to the Lord and live for God. We all have our problems and difficulties. Turning to God is the answer.”