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Longtime councilman remembered as ‘servant leader’

Posted on January 12, 2022

Updated on January 16, 2022

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Wilson Councilman A.P. Coleman, right, shakes hands with Councilman Tom Fyle during Coleman’s final council meeting in May 2019. Coleman, who served on the council for 38 years, died Wednesday.

Brie Handgraaf | Times file photo

Wilson Councilman A.P. Coleman, right, shakes hands with Councilman Tom Fyle during Coleman’s final council meeting in May 2019. Coleman, who served on the council for 38 years, died Wednesday.

Councilman A.P. Coleman speaks during the 2012 Wilson County Democratic Convention at the county courthouse.

Gray Whitley | Times file photo

Councilman A.P. Coleman speaks during the 2012 Wilson County Democratic Convention at the county courthouse.

Wilson Councilman A.P. Coleman, right, shakes hands with Councilman Tom Fyle during Coleman’s final council meeting in May 2019. Coleman, who served on the council for 38 years, died Wednesday.

Brie Handgraaf | Times file photo

Wilson Councilman A.P. Coleman, right, shakes hands with Councilman Tom Fyle during Coleman’s final council meeting in May 2019. Coleman, who served on the council for 38 years, died Wednesday.

Councilman A.P. Coleman speaks during the 2012 Wilson County Democratic Convention at the county courthouse.

Gray Whitley | Times file photo

Councilman A.P. Coleman speaks during the 2012 Wilson County Democratic Convention at the county courthouse.

Councilman A.P. Coleman speaks during the 2012 Wilson County Democratic Convention at the county courthouse.
Wilson Councilman A.P. Coleman, right, shakes hands with Councilman Tom Fyle during Coleman’s final council meeting in May 2019. Coleman, who served on the council for 38 years, died Wednesday.

bhandgraaf@wilsontimes.com | 252-265-7821

Former Wilson City Councilman A.P. Coleman died early Wednesday morning.

“Wilson mourns the passing of my friend and former neighbor, Avant Coleman,” said Rep. G.K. Butterfield. “A.P.’s 38 years of service on the Wilson City Council left an indelible mark on the city that will carry his legacy forward for generations to come.”

As a young man, Coleman relocated from Edgecombe County to work for the Wilson County Cooperative Extension. At local businessmen’s urging, he ran and won a seat on the Wilson City Council in 1975.

He was an integral part of Wilson’s efforts to pave 23 miles of streets in Black neighborhoods and complete other projects such as the Buckhorn Reservoir, the city operations center, the train station renovation and the development of affordable housing in the Freeman Place neighborhood.

“I’ve been a part of downtown development since the very beginning, and I’m very proud of the progress we’re making there,” Coleman told The Wilson Times in 2019.

Coleman retained his seat for nearly four decades, only taking six years off. Councilman James Johnson met him around 1991 and recalled Coleman as a “booming fellow.”

“A.P. was a good guy, and I enjoyed listening to him. He was raised in a different generation from me, and his knowledge was beneficial,” Johnson said. “On all of the big issues that faced the city, I only remember us being unanimous as a board. Buckhorn, Sanderson Farms, Greenlight — there were a lot of things A.P. was a part of, and it took a united front with all of us playing together as a team.”

Johnson described Coleman’s family as the apple of the former councilman’s eye.

Coleman cited health issues when he retired in May 2019 with plans to spend more time with his family. In the fall of that year, residents elected Gillettia Morgan to take his place.

“A.P. was the epitome of a servant leader, church leader, neighbor and friend,” Butterfield said. “Today, we celebrate his life, work and service to our community. I extend heartfelt condolences to the Coleman family on their tremendous loss.”

Funeral plans have not been announced.

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