By SARA ARTHURS
Glenn Coats may be older than many of you reading this, but he just might be able to skate circles around you.
Coats, 89, is an avid ice skater.
“Skating’s fine at 89,” he said, adding that last year his catchphrase would have been “Skating’s OK at 88.”
Coats was born in 1930, and spent his early childhood living in Cleveland. He learned to skate when he was between 8 and 10, on a vacant lot a few blocks from his home that people flooded in freezing weather.
“Those were Depression years,” he wrote in a letter to The Courier. “I don’t even know where the skates came from.”
He and his twin sister learned as young children to roller skate, too, “with those steel-wheeled clamp-on roller skates up and down West 23rd Street — wow — all summer long.”
Coats continued to skate through later childhood, first in North Royalton, then near Chatham.
He and his wife married in 1949. “And I continued to go ice skating in the various communities we lived, both in Ohio and Indiana. (I taught my wife to skate when we were dating.)”
He’d pull his four children on a sled, while he was on skates.
“I would get up good speed, then let them pass me as I gave the rope a quick tug sideways, sending them in circles,” he wrote. “They loved it!”
He never skated on creeks or rivers, though: “I had heard too many stories about the dangers.”
Coats said his wife ice skated “off and on,” but not as much as he did. (She died 18 years ago.)
His secret to learning to skate? Don’t be afraid to fall down. “You gotta fall down to learn things.”
And he said he thinks to learn how to skate, you have to want to do it.
Coats has a pond that he skates on, and he also skates at The Cube.
“Anytime it freezes, I skate,” he said.
His property west of Findlay is four acres in total, and he’s also kept busy taking care of trees and shrubs.
“Mowing is a three-hour job” but he enjoys it. And now that he’s retired, he can pick any day of the week he wishes to mow.
He said sometimes the ice on his pond isn’t good, or there is too much snow.
“Recently, I learned of the Cube and skated at that large indoor facility,” he wrote. “Cool.”
Coats said, about staying active in old age, “I want to be healthy when I die.”
He did quit driving five years ago, but has friends who take him to church — and to the Cube.
“The Lord gets me where I need to go and sometimes where I want to go,” he said.
Coats said his health is excellent, and he recommends staying active.
He said sometimes people retire and “they sit down and watch TV for four years — and they’re dead.” He, by contrast, feels good and has a sense of purpose.
Coats is a retired pastor. He moved to Findlay in 1968 and pastored Grace Brethren Church, followed by a church in Arlington. When he was in high school, a pastor asked if he’d considered the ministry. He hadn’t at that point, but he found it was what he felt God calling him to do.
During his work as a pastor, he’d participate in roller skating church parties. The congregation took their own tapes of organ music to skate to.
And several years ago, his grandson brought roller blades over to Coats’ home when he and other grandkids were there for supper. So Coats put them on and tried them out. “It was fun.”
Today, Coats has 14 grandchildren and 30 great-grandchildren. He likes hosting cookouts at his house for extended family.
He has a good group of friends, too.
“All my neighbors are friends,” he said.
In addition to being a pastor, he worked at Ace Hardware on Trenton Avenue. He lost that job when the owners sold the business but jokes that he tells people, “I got fired.”
He’d worked there for 39 years in a range of roles, primarily in the plumbing department.
He tells people, “If you don’t enjoy your work, quit.”
Coats said he also tells people he can still do anything he could do 20 years ago — just not for as long.
He has had a couple of falls. He said he learned from his own grandfather who, when he fell, would just roll and get up. Coats said once when he himself fell, in front of his grandchildren, he just did a backward somersault and then came right back up.
Coats is retired from being a pastor, but said he still wants to help people come to the Lord.
And he has had problems in his own life.
“You can succumb to those things and lose your joy,” he said. “And Lord, I don’t want to lose my joy.”
Coats laughed and smiled a great deal while talking with The Courier, at the same time demonstrating his skating ability at the Cube.
“I think cheerful people do live longer,” he said.