A Fisher of Giving
David D. ‘Mickey’ Coleman: 1927-2014


When Mickey was 13, his father died, forcing him to leave boyhood behind and run the family farm.

His parents impressed upon him the value of higher education as a great equalizer and a solution to global ailments. So, following a tour of duty in the U.S. Air Force, Mickey went on to attend UT Knoxville, where he lettered in swimming and was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Eventually he sold the farm in exchange for entrepreneurial endeavors and travel adventures.

When Mickey met the Hamilton Eye Institute’s namesake, Ralph S. Hamilton, and its director, Barrett G. Haik, the lessons his parents ingrained in him about the importance of education found their calling. He became a great supporter of the institute. And he gained a dear friend and fishing buddy in Haik.

Once, following Mickey’s stabilization from a brain hemorrhage, Haik “moved mountains” to get him back to Memphis from Michigan, where he often retreated during the summer. Haik called in a favor from a colleague to have Mickey flown back to Memphis. He also arranged for a team of medical professionals, who volunteered their services, to safely transport Mickey home.

It is what Mickey would have done for Haik or anyone else, as evidenced by his insistence that Hurricane Katrina victims call his home theirs until they could get back to the homes they once knew.

“His hospitality was like no other,” Haik says. “He never took anything for granted. He appreciated every blessing.”


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