E.F. “Doc” Coker, 1914-2012
E.F. “Doc” Coker, Pittsburg County Conservation District director from 1960 to 1997, passed away on Sept. 6, 2012. He celebrated his 98th birthday on Aug. 10. Gov. George Nigh appointed Coker to the Conservation Commission where he served as Area V member of the Commission from May 1986 to May 1996. He was inducted into the Oklahoma Conservation Hall of Fame in 2000. He is survived by Shirley his wife of almost 43 years, two daughters, two grandsons and three great grandchildren.
Raised in Savannah, Okla., his family farmed crops like peanuts and corn and sometimes picked cotton from dawn to dark. He served 30 months in the U.S. Army in the Pacific islands during World War II. After the war, Doc’s mother couldn’t believe he wanted to study agriculture at college. “Son,” she said “you already know how to farm!”
He worked his way through college and with a B.S. in agriculture went on to earn a Master’s degree in administration from the University of Oklahoma. Doc taught school for 18 years and served as superintendent for public schools in Kiowa, Pittsburg and Jack Fork.
A retired cattleman and pecan farmer in Blanco, Coker was known for his pioneering work in pecan tree grafting. At one time his operation averaged 1,200-1,400 head of cattle and approximately 3,000 improved-variety pecan trees.
“Upstream flood control and the watershed system is one of the best things we’ve come up with,” Doc said one time. He remembered a time when a single rain washed out 27 bridges. Of the 16 Small Watershed Upstream Flood Control dams in Pittsburg County Conservation District, one was on Doc’s land. “People today want to see results from their tax money,” he said, “but it’s harder to visualize the damage that didn’t happen because the right protection was in place.”