William “John” Coila, Jr. departed this plane of life on Sept 1, 2017 at his Homestead outside of Homer, AK. He was born in Vancouver, WA on Feb 3, 1948 to Bill and Eylah Coila and grew up enjoying the streams and woods of Chelatchie Prairie, WA. He left it in the same way that he lived it – with style and adventure.
In 1980 John drove the Al-Can Highway as far as it would go and found himself in Homer, Alaska. It was the end of the highway, but the beginning of the next chapter in his life. His quirky nature, beaming smile and glittering blue eyes quickly made him new friends and extended his family. He had found the peace and laughter that he’d been searching for and a new nickname, “Piggy McSwine”. For many years in Homer, you would find John almost anywhere doing almost anything. He had two boats; both were called the “Midnight Sun”, he fished halibut and shrimp and sold it from the docks of Homer harbor when it was still legal to do so. He planted raspberry bushes on Bear Creek, had a farm that innovatively sold rooted lettuce on the side of the road and was a large part of stretching many boats in Kodiak and Homer.
John lived his life exactly how he had always dreamed, achieving the Homesteading life with the woman that enjoyed the lifestyle as much as he did. With many years as a fisherman, woodsman, building contractor, farmer and a short stint as a chemical engineer he gained the skills that lent to John successfully creating his Coila Homestead. It started as a sod hut and quickly became his castle. He also enjoyed 27 chickens, two dogs, two cats (one with a broken jaw) and a wilderness filled with moose, deer and bear. It was his perfect world and on July 9th, 2016 John completed his dream of love and homesteading, when he married his beloved, Deborah.
Also known as “Pa” and “Grampa Grizzly Bear”, John was very proud of all his children and felt that they are his greatest legacy. He leaves with us his children and grandchildren. His daughters: Mahealani, Makani, Jennifer, Heather and Amber. His sons: Kahala, Matthew and Joshua. His grandchildren: Isabella, Keanae, Helela, Ka’aha and Iliahi.
John is also survived by his sisters; Kathy and Joyce, his brothers; Erik, Leroy, Rick and Chris. He is preceded in death by his brother Scott, his sister Colleen, his mother and father, his first wife Mary Jane, and his granddaughter Kahea.
In lieu of flowers, we ask that donations be made in his memory at First National Bank of Alaska to “Coila Homestead”. All funds will be used to complete outstanding projects at the Coila Homestead.
Please join us to share memories and cheers at the Homer Elks Lodge #2127, 215 Jenny Way Homer, AK Saturday, September 30, 2017. Doors to open at 3pm. Services to begin at 4pm. Potluck welcome.