The Family of Collie Edison Sr. and Willie Tee Turner-Coats
The beginning of the Collie and Willie Tee Coats legacy began on May 23, 1941 in Alamo, Georgia. Collie was the son of Henry and Daisy Coats. Willie Tee was the daughter of James Victor and Lillie Mae Turner. Soon after their marriage, they moved to Miami, Florida, where they raised 17 children: 10 sons, 4 daughters, and 3 adoring nieces. Collie worked as a construction worker throughout South Florida; Willie Tee was a homemaker, PTA parent, missionary/Sunday school teacher, and a neighborhood mother known affectionately as “Muh.” The caring and giving family they raised developed into a network of people.
Collie and Willie T. were organizers within the community. With the help of their network of neighbors, they cleared land to build a playground for community families. They created the first black park in that area. They prepared and sponsored meals, not only for their children, but for the surrounding neighborhood kids. Collie and his friends occasionally spent weekends fishing, leading to big fish fries. During tough economic times, the community would often share meals and look after one another. They were thoughtful, kind, law-abiding, and respected in the community.
Before his death in 1972, Collie built many duplexes in the South Dade area. One longtime member of the community stated, “he was a blessing to the community with his carpentry skills.” Willie T. , the matriarch of the family, became the backbone. Her character was most evident in the way she treated others and gave of herself and her time without reservation. Most importantly, she planted, watered, and nurtured the seed of true Christianity in each one of our hearts and minds. By the time of her death in 2006, each of her children knew the value of sharing with those who were less fortunate and to be thankful for what they had.
The Coats family has organized and contributed to many other ventures throughout the community, including but not limited to: distributing holiday meals, engaging in prison ministries, visiting the sick and shut-in, engaging in the Teen King Program, serving on the Community Affairs Board during the Author McDuffie Riot, and assisting the community during Hurricane Andrew. In addition, family members have directed/managed the Cultural Arts Center in the inner city and the Coconut Grove Community Cares Center. They’ve taught art and skills in the community, mentored youth, and served in the Armed Forces, health care, education, government and business management, law enforcement, church ministries, community activities, and even on the community city council. The family says, “we are not a perfect family, but through our parent’s teachings of the love of God and one another, we grew into a family that Collie and Willie Tee Coats would be proud of.” Collie and Willie T. ‘s heritage has grown to include 14 children, 50 grandchildren, 74+ great-grandchildren, and 33 great-great grandchildren.